Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

As I network with parents, whether spontaneously on campus or a planned appointment like coffee or a home visit, I often pick up little words of wisdom from all of you. When that happens, these often form the core of a CC like this one.

One of our military dads shared the thought above. As I pondered what he said and asked a few questions, I realized that this applies to both our homes and our school. We set out with a strategy — having a home and school that edifies its members — children, parents, teachers, everyone — and honors and glorifies God. We even create rules to try to govern our classes, dinner times, athletic teams and events, etc. Especially at school, we have layers of policy, we spend time in training, we carefully pick out professional development that reinforces our mission and design as a Christian, classical school.

Our strategy is very intentional.

However, sometimes the culture we create through our behaviors and our talk can undermine our strategy. Usually it happens slowly, subtly. Our behavior is eroded by stress and conflict. We begin to tolerate rudeness in sibling interactions. One child is unkind and we let it slide. We lose our patience, but fail to circle back to apologize and be restored with others. After all, “no sense making a big deal of it; let’s just move on.”

Informal settings like lunch break can become gossip and gripe sessions. Nothing huge, just a comment here and there.

Or perhaps we decide to address a problem, but our frustration leaks into the correction. Have you ever let that happen? I remember the time I was correcting my girls when my youngest referred to one of my long-standing lessons and asked, “Dad, who;s in the Driver’s Seat?” The moment she called it to my attention, I realized I was out of line. There was no evidence of the Fruit of the Spirit — Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. Clearly my sin nature was controlling dear old dad.

If I had continued in that vein, my message would be lost in my delivery. And I was on the verge of creating a culture that would devour my strategy.

I stopped short and excused myself, saying I had to use the bathroom. I did need to use the bathroom, but as a place to cool down and pray.

Upon my return, I thanked Abby for her wisdom. Then I made it clear that they still needed discipline, but this time it was Spirit-led. The tone and culture had been restored.

Had I pushed on and acted like I was in the right, would my children believe that? Suppose they did. I would have undermined my own strategy of trying to create an edifying and God-glorifying home. The new culture would eat my strategy for breakfast.

Our very lives are our most powerful lessons for better or worse. We are constantly weaving together the fabric of our culture at home and at school by our walk with the Lord and our humility.

I encourage you to be strategic, set goals and make godly policies. But let’s be sure to build a culture in how we treat one another that complements our strategies. And guard yourself. Don’t let your message get lost in its delivery.

Still learning, Christopher

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