VCS Concentration Deans
After an exciting, yet energy-sapping school year, take time to invest in your own health. May your summer be filled with life-giving joy, adventure and spiritual depth, all for the glory of the author of life, Jesus Christ!
Keeper of Spring
There was a town in the Alps, straddling the banks of a beautiful stream, fed by springs high above. The stream was crystal clear, providing sanctuary for birds, children, rainbow trout, and picnics. It was a thriving town. High in the hills, far beyond anyone’s sight, lived an old man, known as the “keeper of the spring.” He carefully cleared the spring of anything that might choke the stream. Hired long ago, few remembered why he was there.
One day, the town Council looked at their expenses and decided they needed the old man’s paycheck for other priorities, so they fired him. The springs went untended; the stream clogged. For a time, no one noticed, but soon the water began to change, becoming toxic. The birds flew away, the fish died, the children weren’t allowed to play—some in the town even grew ill.
The life of the village depended on the stream, and the life of the stream depended on the keeper of the spring.
The spring is your heart. You are its keeper.
In Proverbs 4:23 Solomon offers advice from father to son.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” NIV
The original language actually says “from your heart flow the springs of life.”
Your “heart” is the part of you that connects on the deepest level with who you are and your reason for being on this planet [and serving students at school] … it is your life and you are its keeper. Lose your heart and you lose your life. It is difficult to over-describe the worth of your heart. After a long year, some might have lost touch with their heart’s value. Let’s be honest, our world gives small priority to the condition of your heart, and life can shrivel it like a raisin. So I say to you, guard your heart!
A thriving heart, according to author Simon Sinek, starts by asking Why, before asking What. This summer is a great time to re-clarify your Why. What questions focus on task; Why questions get you to mission. After a long year, you may have boiled life down to asking What questions: what is on my to-do list for today? What is my curriculum? What is urgent? What keeps me out of trouble?
The Why question comes from deeper in our hearts. It asks, Why am I living this story in the first place? Tend your heart by learning to ask Why before you ask What.
Why-questions push the boundaries.
Why-questions embody a dream.
Why-questions change the world.
Health breeds health. Healthy adults = healthy students. As the leaders go, so goes a school. Healthy leaders guard their heart, and align life with their Why. But how?
5 positive heart-rejuvenating practices for your summer:
- The Discipline of Rest
- Retreat from the surge. Work hard, then rest.
- Genesis 2:1-2 – God rested from all his work; Exodus 31:12 “observe my Sabbaths … so you may know that I am the Lord.”
- Shut down for a third of the daily cycle. “Off-switch” given by God.
- Unplug, be quiet.
- The difference between ‘doing’ and ‘being.’ Doing comes out of being.
- Make deliberate choices toward restoration.
- How will you truly rest this summer?
- The Discipline of Reflection
- Not just reacting like a boxer to the volume of stuff – overloaded lives.
- Build in margin in order to have time for rest and reflection.
- Mark 1:35 – after a busy night, Jesus was by himself to pray. Luke 5:16 “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Jesus’ Why came from alone time.
- Bible reading and prayer in morning can be helpful, including journaling.
- Take time to process, intentionally reflecting on what is happening, what does this mean, where is God in this?
- In what part of your day will you invest in reflecting?
- The Discipline of Reading
- We are what we read.
- Reading is a form of rest and reflection.
- We don’t do a lot of long form reading on the Internet – Twitter 140 characters.
- Tackle a book or extensive essay; it will focus your mind, and stimulate the brain.
- Reader’s lead, and leaders read.
- 2 Timothy 4:13 “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.”
- What are you reading this summer?
- The Discipline of Recreation
- Recreation includes play, having fun, working out, eating right, paint, guitar, fish, even golf.
- There is a difference between amusement and recreation … a unique kind of ‘tired.’
- Ephesians 2:10 you are “created to create.”
- We are not just a consumer, but also a creator.
- What kind of life-giving recreation will you enjoy this summer?
- The Discipline of Relationships
- Maybe the most important practice. Genesis 2:18 “It is not good for the man to be alone.”
- The Trinity is in relationship.
- Online Facebook relationships don’t cut it. We sometimes get our identity from Facebook/social media.
- Who are the 4 or 5 in-depth relationships that are restorative? Seek these people out and put them on your calendar.
- They are a guardrail to going off the deep end, and provide protection from a loss of perspective.
- With whom will you find life through investing in healthy relationships this summer?
But in case you leave this school year in a place of deep discouragement, or even a sense of failure, I am reminded of a story …
The Crooked Kiss
Dr. Richard Selzer performed a difficult surgery on a young woman’s face, accidentally cutting a nerve causing her mouth to droop. In the recovery room she asked, “Will my mouth always be like this?” “Yes,” he said, “it will be. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nodded and was silent. But her young husband smiled. “I like it,” he said. “It is kind of cute.” Then he bent to kiss her crooked mouth, and the Dr. was so close he saw how her husband twisted his own lips to accommodate her, to show her that their kiss still worked.”
Living from your heart is not easy. Your journey to Why will be filled with trouble, even pain. I remind you of the beauty of your heart, and of the gospel. Jesus twists his own lips to accommodate yours, to show you that your kiss still works. You are a valuable part of God’s plan for the students in your world.
Guard your heart, discover your Why, change the world.
 Thanks to Chuck Swindoll, Improving Your Serve, and John Ortberg, Soul-Keeping.
 Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Thanks to Kimberly Inskeep, President and Chief Culture Officer at Carol Anderson by Invitation (CAbi) who introduced me to Sinek and asking why before what.
 May I suggest Donald Miller, Storyline: Finding Your Subplot in God’s Story, for your reading?
 Thanks to Michael Hyatt. http://michaelhyatt.com/the-four-disciplines-of-the-heart.html.
 See Martha Beck, The Joy Diet, chapter one, “Nothing.”
Richard Swenson, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives.
 Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains.
 Thanks to Mike Yaconelli, from whom I first heard this story. Richard Selzer, Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery.