Today 1000’s of young people participated in a #NationalStudentWalkout, including some from Spencerville Adventist Academy, the school of The Spencerville Adventist Church of which I am the Senior Pastor, and the school my three sons attend. I have heard some within our nation agitating for the inappropriateness of this walkout and also that the students should face some level of punishment from their respective schools. I would suspect that most, not all, but most of these appeals come from those that hold a position that is in opposition to the students that walked-out. I do not write this post to discuss my views for or against the issue, you can read some thoughts on that here or here. But I write to encourage everyone, no matter where you stand on the “gun debate” to support the proactive movement these young people are taking. Supporting a young persons passionate expression to the extent it is done in peace, and is not in opposition to a clear “thus saith The Lord” is a good thing. The reason I feel this way is because I experienced that support first hand as a child and have never forgotten it.
Here is my story:
When I was in 4th grade in Loma Linda, CA one of the required classes we were to take was Spanish, in 3rd grade we took German, in 4th grade Spanish. Shortly after the class began that year I began to have some run-ins with the teacher, to the extent that I felt she had begun to call me out unnecessarily and took joy in embarrassing me. I was good at losing my temper, by that point in my life I was already on a first name basis with the office administrators and the school principal. But this time I decided not to go my usual route, instead I decided to attempt something productive
I wrote a petition!
It was a petition of protest against my need to be in that class.
It was only about half a page long, but it clearly laid out my reasons for my belief that this teacher was causing undue harm to my psyche.
When I first took the petition to the office to submit it I learned two things: first a petition needed signatures and secondly a student could not submit a petition unless they had the support and signature of at least one teacher or faculty member.
With that information and without their support they sent me on their way, I would suspect thinking they had effectively squashed this 4th graders protest.
They were wrong!
I immediately began to get signatures…over 100 of them as I remember, mostly from my own grade, but a few of the 5th and 6th grade girls signed it as well as I explained my plight and batted my eyes.
But I still needed a teacher or a faculty member to sign.
Loma Linda was (is) a large for an Adventist school and in the 4th grade there were actually 4 different teachers. We had our primary room and then we would rotate a few subjects between the other three teachers. I can tell you I remember the names of two of those four teachers. Mrs. Sell, my main teacher and Mrs. Smith, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember the other two and I’m coming up completely blank. Could it be I remember those two teachers because out of the 4 they were the two that read my protest and agreed to sign my sheet so that I could turn it in?
Their support had a major impact on me and now 30+ years later I still remember their support and remain grateful.
Looking back on the entire incident from an adult perspective I doubt that they signed my paper out of agreement, but rather to affirm my initiative and willingness to express myself.
Also looking back I believe their support was part of my development as a leader. It was one of the first major “leadership” initiatives I accomplished.
So let us support our children even if we don’t agree on the issue. If The Lord hasn’t called for silence on this issue in His Word and the young people are being peaceful in their protest let us affirm their outcries!
We may just be helping to develop future leaders.
Oh, by the way, they let me drop the Spanish class…go figure a protest really can change things 😉