….The goal of GDA is to develop ethical and wise individuals who will impact their community for the glory of God through service, leadership, and character.”  

(excerpt from the GDA mission statement)

I have had the privilege to attend several classical education seminars, workshops and lectures since joining GDA as a teacher. I remember, from one of the conferences, the most remarkable statement. It greatly influenced how I see myself as an educator in a Christian Classical school; as well as a parent to my three wonderful kids.

“You are training the future leaders of the Christian faith.” 

Wow! What a mighty, awesome and sometimes overwhelming statement, to think that our school and our homes are filled with the men and women who will be the leaders of our Christian faith. Whichever path they choose for their futures; they will be ambassadors of the faith.  How do we address the issue of character in our students? How do we usher these children and teenagers into adults with wise and discerning hearts?

Heart training is our goal as part of Christian Classical Education; it is the goal to mentor children’s hearts as the grow into “ethical and wise individuals”.  We want to lead and guide the students’ hearts to align with the heart of God. It is easier and quicker to stop a behavior we see as wrong, but when a caring teacher/administrator/ parent takes the time to illuminate how the offense went against God’s teachings and enlighten the offending student to what “heart issue” led to the offending behavior a seed is planted. As children grow the seeds of biblical truth and Christ centered discipline with grow.  Simply put it is about mentoring the heart instead of correcting behavior.  It is founded with biblical principles at the forefront. As students know more about the heart of God and His nature and character it can be easier for them to check their own actions and motivations, but for the younger ones it is the job of the adults to help show the children how their actions need to be corrected.

What does this look like?  An easy and simple illustration is a student who constantly interrupts the teacher wanting to add to the conversation; as we are “raising future leaders of the Christian faith” this student may go on to preach to all the nations and to share the Gospel to the ends of the earth. It would be easy to correct this behavior and provide consequences to end the interruptions, but in heart training the teacher would speak to the student about the motivation behind the interruptions and breaking of classroom rules. Is it an issue of pride? Is it selfishness? What biblical principles are being broken? Through the Heart Training process, the goal would be for the student to learn patience and humility.

There are countless examples of opportunities of heart training in a fallen world. As parents and educators there are so many opportunities to provide a Christ centered learning opportunity for children as we raise and train these future leaders.  Grace needs to be at the forefront. These opportunities to mentor hearts also provide a way to show grace. We can approach an offense with a desire to teach and shepherd a heart towards Jesus instead of a correction as a reaction. We can teach children to have grace with one another as forgiveness is asked for and received by offenders.  We can pray for God’s wisdom and grace as we are mentoring God’s future leaders.