Two kinds of wisdom

Bob Moore, principal at John Calvin Christian School in Guelph, Ontario offers this blog post about the kinds of student outcomes we seek in Christian education. Thanks, Bob for sharing!

“…the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17.)

Have you ever driven up to a hospital entrance and noticed a doctor or a nurse standing on the sidewalk having a smoke? Or what goes through your mind when you hear of a lawyer who has just been convicted of a crime? Doesn’t it puzzle you when someone takes up an activity that is directly contrary to what he or she knows to be right?

In our more truthful moments, we all must confess that, from time to time, our heart or hands or feet follow a path that we know to be wrong. Our actions contradict our knowledge.

For too long in our culture, probably since the Greeks shaped our concept of education, we have made a practice of divorcing our heads from our hearts and hands and feet. When we say we are educated, we mean that we have captured a fact in our mind, e.g. smoking is harmful, but our definition of education doesn’t require that it affect our actions. Someone taking a test for a G1 driver’s licence may know every answer on the test, get a perfect score, and then drive down Waterloo Avenue like Paul Tracy at the Toronto Grand Prix!

There is a serious shortage of ethics in our society. It seems like every week, there is a new report about highly educated politicians or business leaders who are involved in shady or illegal activities. Much of the front page was covered this summer with stories about Conrad Black and his associates who were allegedly lining their own pockets at the expense of their shareholders and employees. When the topic wasn’t Conrad Black, it was the RCMP and the abuse of their pension fund. Even 20 years ago, these stories were not common. We thought of white-collar crime as a rare event, or something that was only typical in some poorly educated place like Nigeria or Haiti. As an aside, the strength of a country’s economy is directly tied to the practice of ethics in its business dealings. If we don’t solve the shortage of ethics in Canadian business and government, the handwriting is on the wall for the economic health and stability of our country.

Of course, Christians are affected by this same problem. For years, we have admired church members who have astounding grasps of Biblical knowledge, regardless of how they treated their family members. We have applauded children who can give all the right answers, but who then abuse their younger siblings.

This year at John Calvin Christian School, we have taken on the ambitious project of turning around thousands of years of educational tradition. Our year’s theme is “from head to heart to hands and feet,” and our theme verse is James 3:17: “…the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. “ Though our worldly culture defines education as, and rewards students for, adding to their store of facts, we want to define education as, and reward our students for, letting the facts be understood and applied in the context of our faith in Jesus Christ.

We want to convince the students that having the head knowledge is not the end of the course; rather it is only the beginning! We want to encourage the students, and provide opportunities for them to let that knowledge change their hearts, and guide and direct their hands and feet! It isn’t enough to know about Jesus; we want our students to know Jesus, and to respond to Him personally, by making choices about how to use their time and talents in ways that will please Him. It isn’t enough to know the right answer; we want our students to live the right way, in justice and mercy.

The Bible talks about two kinds of wisdom in James, chapter 3. One kind of wisdom is all too prevalent in Canada today; “such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:15,16.) At John Calvin Christian School, it will be our goal this year to pursue “…the wisdom that comes from heaven [which] is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17.)



Filed under Biblical worldview, distinctively Christian, mission development, student outcomes

5 responses to “Two kinds of wisdom

  1. Jim DeKorne


    Great post! Keep us up to date on how things go during the school year — what successes you are able to see.

    One of my daughters is a missionary in the Buddhist world, where a common principle is “To know and not to use is not yet to know.” For them, the only Christians that get a hearing in that world are the ones whose actions embody the truth of their words.

    The CSI convention in 2008 (Jul 29-Aug 1) will have a similar theme to your post: “Leadership: Head, Heart, Hands”. Be sure to come … and bring some folks with you!


  2. I have long appreciated the head, heart, hands triad–used it at both Lynden Christian and now at Rehoboth. Would be happy to send a copy of such if anybody is interested.

    Good work brother!

  3. Leslee Caldwell

    Well overall I belive this was a great post! I agree with John Calvin Christian School because students these days need not to just learn about whats right and wrong but live by it as well. Thats what I believe is wrong with school and children today. Children are hearing whats right and what and what not to do, but no one is teaching them how to obstain from doing it. John Calvin Christian School is putting a whole new twist on education and I think that the way they are teaching their students is great.

  4. Candace Brown

    I reall enjoyed this post. I think we ca all relate to this issue. WE might read the Bible and read the fact that it says: We are not to sin….but some way some how we seem to still sin. I agree with the school….head knowledge is not enough. This style and insight of teaching at the John Calvin Christian School, allows the students to understand and not just know what to do, but act it out as well.

  5. Ashley Winters

    I really enjoyed this post. I totally agree with the idea of developing spirituality. I think too often children are just taught the word of God, but don’t really know how to grow and develop from there. Children are taught the bible in school just like any other subject. So the memorize what they need to, accomplish a task in school, but after the memorization, what next? If teachers are equipped with the knowledge of how to take what students have learned,nurture, and help spirituality grow from there, students would have a better understanding of what they are learning and how it relates to them.

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