Written by Martin Trice in 2011, while he was Head of School at NSCS
When the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, after an 86 year journey, the documentary created to celebrate that moment was called Faith Rewarded. I understand that feeling of accomplishment when I received one of the most precious gifts I have even been given. It was from my sons on the occasion of my birthday. It wasn’t a wide screen TV or a piece of jewelry or even a new bowtie. No. What my sons gave me were words of appreciation.
In simple cards were written the words every father longs to read but doesn’t dare to hope for, for fear that they will never be received. In my oldest son’s card he wrote, “Dad, you are my hero. The older I get, the more I realize that you are the man I hope someday to be.” He went on to tell me his reasons why he felt compelled to write such a statement. Choking back my emotions, my response in a return thank you card was, “Son, my prayer for you is not for wealth and fame, but that someday, you will receive a card like this from your son. Thank you. Love, Dad.”
I wish I could say that my wife and I are the kind of iconic parents where every thought and every decision were prayerfully wrought and strategically timed for the greatest impact. Unlike television shows that are now relegated to the Classic TV channel, lessons in our family took much longer than 30 minutes to learn and were much messier. As Ian and Andrew moved closer to adolescence, my not- so- recessive rebel gene began to materialize in their personalities. For me it was the Vietnam war era counterculture movement. For my boys it took shape in the form of skateboarding. Their hair grew, their jeans got skinny, studded belts made an appearance and the music grew angry. The proverbial apple doesn’t fall far they say.
The skateboarding world has a strange mix of the wholesome Tony Hawk types with hard core, tattooed punk rockers. Care to guess which held the most attraction to my boys? Beverly and I often felt that as they entered their teens, they stepped out onto a tightrope. Just when it seemed they were making progress, suddenly they were tip toeing on dental floss – their arms and legs swaying wildly from one side to the other to prevent a fall into the world’s abyss. These were scary years.
So how did this amazing thing happen? How does it come about that your 21 and 23 year old children come to recognize and embrace your faith and your values when, for a while, the outcome looked bleak? Like an episode of Seinfeld, I am tempted to simply say the boys were into punk rock and yada yada yada they are now graduating from Christian colleges and warming a father’s heart. But it’s in the yada, yada where prayer, wisdom and faithfulness is found.
Beverly and I are not child psychologists, bestselling authors on child rearing or experts on a speaking circuit following some master plan that we had developed while the boys were in utero. We made our share of mistakes and errors in judgment. What I can say is that we were purposeful in the raising of our sons. We knew that someday the Lord would hold us accountable for our children and we were not going to sit back and watch life simply unfold. We recognized that the world was going to work against us as Christian parents so we were determined to do everything in our power to tip the scales in favor of growing our boys into men of God.
In order for this to happen, we needed as much help as we could possibly find. We both knew that in addition to their parents and our church, Christian schools and the influence of Christian teachers were going to be an important part of their lives. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” We were willing to sacrifice, time, money and even homeownership to make this happen. While we knew there were no guarantees, (Ecclesiastes does not promise that the cord cannot be broken, just that it is not easily broken), we wanted to provide our boys an environment where the ways of this world would be consistently exposed for what they really are.
Now that our boys are standing on the other side of the chasm, there is no question that in spite of all of the hardships, we would do it all over again. All the while they were balancing on that wire, God repeatedly used Christian men and women to say the right thing at just the right moment to keep them moving forward. My wife and I remain in the Christian school ministry not because we understanding its value theoretically, but we know it personally. We both feel a deep responsibility to pay it forward to a new generation of children. It is my prayer that North Shore Christian School is and will remain that third cord that helps grow men and women of God.