This is a follow up to last month’s post (The Pursuit of Faith: How to Play) about a new program that will be initiated on the campus of Oklahoma Christian Academy. The program, The Pursuit, is designed to help students learn what their individual talents are and learn how to use them to glorify God in the world.
So, did I mention The Pursuit is an optional experience? Why would we make it optional? Well, we do require all of our students to participate in bible classes and chapel, so we figured that additional faith formative experiences could serve as a positive reinforcement to what we are already doing. However, to make this experience exciting and engaging we did decide to ‘sweeten the pot’ for those who choose to participate.
Is that another way to say give incentives? Yes! Tim Elmore, a leading researcher and author focused on our children’s generation, found that “a new survey has revealed the top fears of the world’s wealthiest people, and one of the most common worries is that their children will lack the ambition and drive to do well.”
He goes on to highlight five signs of lower ambition seen in our students:
Much of this research comes from the Growing Leaders blog from earlier this year.
One aspect of The Pursuit is to create ambition in our students. Specifically, an ambition to use their gifts to contribute to the world around them. Tim Elmore urged us to create ambition by appropriately incentivizing our students.
As educators, we utilized Tim Elmore’s five strategies when developing The Pursuit. As a parent, these five strategies can be utilized, too.
1. Watch what they pay attention to most and seem to love.
In The Pursuit we will be tracking what a majority of the students seem to be attracted to. Are there certain tasks, events, or services that students seem to be more invested in than others? This will allow us to organize opportunities that will create relevance. It will also help us identify meaningful incentives.
2. Furnish purpose, autonomy, and mastery in their aspiration area.
One of the main goals of The Pursuit is to help students identify their gifts (purpose) through this self-paced experience (autonomy). While participating in various experiences we hope student begin to master these gifts as they learn to contribute to the work around them.
3. Lead by example--model passion and healthy ambition.
First, as a faculty, staff, and administration we hope to model a life centered in Christ. Secondly, we hope to have certain members of our faculty, staff, and administration lead efforts that they are passionate about. Thirdly, we hope to get parents and grandparents involved in these efforts.
4. Make failure an option in the process.
We want students to push themselves in certain areas, reach out of their comfort zone, and attempt things they never thought possible. What if a student organizes a prayer breakfast and nobody shows up? What if I invite people to a service project and everyone says no? It’s okay! We want students to learn that success is measured differently than they originally thought.
5. Remember—passion comes from exposure.
Don’t think “impose,” think “expose.” For many years we have thought “impose” when it came to spiritual formation. It’s time to “expose” our students in contributing to the gospel narrative. We must engage our students in ways that create passion for a life of contribution.
Tim Elmore says, “students learn on a need-to-know basis. They grow on a need-to-grow basis. We must create a need to know and grow.”
The Pursuit gives us a golden opportunity to expose our students to new opportunities for knowledge, wisdom, and growth. We’re not forcing anyone to participate. Instead, we’re letting them use their talents and interests as the springboard for life-changing action. Honestly, we really don’t know what it will all look like, but I can’t wait to see what new ways God leads our students to create and serve.
Let us hear your contributor story. Periodically, we enjoy offering contributor spotlights and would love to spotlight you or someone you know. Who is making a difference? What children do you know contributing to society in big ways? Let us know through the contact page, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.