Matters of the Heart Matter Most

“I am running out of time.”

Anyone else feel the daily time crunch? Maybe you scramble to do that “one more thing” before picking up your kids from school. Or you’re in the perpetual race to fit in one more work task between meetings, only to realize that your to do list grew as the work-day ends.

For me, the daily schedule is not the only timeline that seems crunched. I feel this quickening loss of time as my kids seem to be growing up so fast. So many life skills I want them to learn before they leave our house – how to cook for themselves, do their laundry, set a budget, make a bed, clean a toilet, see a mess and clean it up without being asked. And yet, when I brave a peek into their bedrooms, it becomes clear how much learning (or least practicing) they have yet to do.

The same is true in my logic classroom this spring. As I map out what I still want to cover, I start to fret with how little time I have left with this class of 7th graders. Will we get through “everything”? Do we have enough time to make sure they understand the content? What about all the information we don’t get to? Have I taught them enough?

Jesus had limited time.

I have often wondered if Jesus felt like that, particularly during His last week before dying on the cross. Why did God limit Jesus’ earthly teaching to such a relatively short time – a period of only three years? Surely, He could have done more with more time. He could have taught his disciples so much more. They could have been so much more equipped if only they had more time to learn from Jesus, don’t you think?

Jesus focused on the heart.

As I look to Jesus’ teaching, I notice something: Jesus focused on the heart. There is great value in obtaining a foundation of knowledge – what some refer to as a “well-stocked mind” – but Jesus taught beyond the “textbook.” We don’t read in the Bible of Him quizzing His disciples on the Scriptures, although He would use Scriptures often to refute the devil and the Pharisees. While His teachings often had the effect of shifting the way one understands life, the shift began not because someone learned a new fact, but because the perspective Jesus offered realigned that someone’s heart in some way.

Perhaps I need to reframe how I look at my time – both as a mom and as a teacher.  

Matters of the heart matter most.

Time with our children is limited and goes by so much faster than we expect. I want to keep my focus on what matters most: matters of the heart. Yes, I want my kids to learn to see a mess and clean it up. But if I focus on helping them develop a love for others, as Jesus loves us, His Spirit can work on their hearts to reframe the purpose of picking up after themselves when living with others. (I am quite certain that this gentle whisper will be more effective than my louder-than-a-whisper reminders anyway.) This is not to say I am not involved in training them in life skills and heart issues, but that their hearts continue to learn from a far greater teacher long after I run out of time for my lessons.

Don’t forget the middle C.

Mrs. Fisher has poignantly reminded me in several key moments as a first-year Academy teacher “not to forget the middle C” in our classical Christian culture. My compass as an Academy teacher is to keep Jesus’ approach to time and teaching in the forefront of my mind: the alignment of our students’ hearts with Jesus’ matters most.

Keeping this truth as my focus means that while I build upon their foundation of knowledge, this is not my only priority. It means we spend time – valuable time – learning how our heart’s alignment with Jesus shapes how we use what we know. This is a vital and invaluable part of education. Aristotle said it this way: “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” Or, as C.S. Lewis put it: “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”

A “well-stocked mind” is a valuable treasure, but a heart filled with a love for Christ and Christ’s love for others matters more.

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