On Thursday, May 17, 2018, I was given the privilege of delivering the final chapel message of the 2017-2018 school year at Southside Christian School. If you would like to read the text of my comments to the middle school and high school students, “Adam and Eve or Boaz and Ruth?” please read on. . . .
“Adam and Eve or Boaz and Ruth?
By Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal
Southside Christian School
Simpsonville, South Carolina
Upper School Chapels
Thursday, May 17, 2018
[Pastor Colin Urbanick, Campus Pastor and Director of Discipleship, welcomed everyone to this last chapel of the 2017-2018 school year, and he prayed over the students — that they would not be distracted by others around them — and that they would be impacted by the worship experience on this day.]
[For the middle school chapel, Upper School Vocal Music Director Fred Barrett led a time of worship through song through vocals and keyboard. He prayed to make the transition from worship through song to worship through consideration of God’s Word.]
[For the high school chapel, High School French Instructor Brett Henderson (on guitar and through vocals), junior Mary Elizabeth Baumgarten (on keyboard and through vocals), and junior Coby Greene (on percussion) served as lead worshippers. Following the music set, Mary Elizabeth prayed to make the transition from worship through song to worship through consideration of God’s Word.]
[Without introduction, I held up an apple and paused until the audience quieted.]
Who gets “credit” for original sin?
Adam, typically. He was the “first Adam” as a foretaste of the “second Adam,” Jesus Christ.
But Eve actually first ate the apple from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Why doesn’t Eve get primary credit for Original Sin?
Eve was deceived by Satan. Certainly, she must be responsible for succumbing to that temptation.
Adam knew full well that he was sinning when he took the apple from Eve.
Also, Adam stood by passively when he should have asserted leadership in the situation.
God had given Adam responsibility for spiritual leadership.
Adam and Eve’s sin was revealed.
They were naked and ashamed.
They hid. Apparently, they believed they were hiding from God.
But no one can hide from God.
And God called out to Adam, “Where are you?”
Did God not know where Adam was?
Of course, God knew where Adam and Eve were! God is omniscient. He knows everything. God was asking, rhetorically, “Why did you not step up to provide godly leadership in this situation, Adam, and why are you now hiding?”
Eve blamed the serpent. For those of you in the audience old enough to remember, this is the old punchline of comedian Flip Wilson: “The devil made me do it!”
Adam blamed Eve. And he essentially blamed God for giving him the woman who was an agent of his fall.
Neither took responsibility for their sin.
Let’s make application to Southside Christian School today.
The seniors in our high school have provided primary leadership at Southside Christian this year.
But the seniors are no longer the leaders of Southside Christian. Their time at SCS is nearly done.
We watched the transition of student leadership on Friday.
New Student Government Association leaders are ready to take over.
I have been very impressed with Katherine Pfeiler’s abilities as a leader.
I look forward to her leadership.
I pray the rising seniors — and not just the elected seniors — will provide outstanding leadership in 2018-2019.
For the high school, the spiritual state of the school will be largely dependent upon the leadership of this year’s juniors.
For the middle school, our rising 8th graders will now step forward front-and-center in leadership.
I want to present a vision for Southside Christian which certainly involves both the young women and young men of our school.
After 20 years in the public schools, with no biblical worldview permeating those cultures, and 18 years in Christian schools, I would like to make an observation about the spiritual leadership of students at Christian schools.
Most young women are mature. Young women are more than willing to provide positive spiritual leadership in Christian schools. For instance, Delaney Dowling and other young women provided excellent leadership last year. During this year, Avery Anderson, Elizabeth Marcedes, and Rachel Noh were fine leaders in the Upper School.
And, at the same time, we have too many young women who thrive on drama — who bully other girls — who engage in totally inappropriate sexual behaviors.
Many other young women stand by and allow these insecure girls to amplify the drama. To be frank, these behaviors are the behaviors of girls, not young women.
What about the young men?
Of course, we have young men who are able and willing to lead. To name just a few, I hold up Clay Anderson and Jack Voigt as sterling examples from the Class of 2017. Jack Shubert, Clayton Survance, and others have provided similar leadership for the Class of 2018.
And, at the same time, we have too many young men who are passive. Too many are scorners, mockers, harassers, bullies, and negative leaders.
Some young men are more committed to video games and to sexting than to godliness.
And some young men stand by and allow these insecure boys to dominate school culture. Again, these behaviors are the behaviors of boys, not young men.
To be blunt, we’ve got too many Adams and Eves.
We need more Ruths and Boazes.
Of course, you should know the beautiful story of Ruth and Boaz.
Ruth was the widowed daughter-in-law of Naomi.
Naomi gave Ruth and her other widowed daughter-in-law Orpah her permission for them to stay in Moab when she made the decision to go back to Naomi’s native Bethlehem.
Ruth would have no part of that.
Ruth loved her mother-in-law — and, more importantly, Ruth loved the one true God of Naomi.
Ruth was an extremely loyal woman of integrity.
When in Bethlehem, Ruth toiled earnestly in Boaz’s grain fields and was rewarded for her work ethic and character.
She sought to provide for herself and her mother-in-law — and to honor Boaz.
Boaz was a man of great character. He generously provided for Ruth and Naomi — and he greatly admired the testimony of Ruth.
He honorably bargained with the kinsman-redeemer who had first right to claim Ruth as his wife.
Eventually, Boaz and Ruth wed. And they had a baby, Obed, who was the father of Jesse and grandfather of David, who was in the lineage of Jesus Christ!
So why all of this talk of Adam and Eve, Boaz and Ruth?
The latter pair — Boaz and Ruth — beautifully illustrate our vision for SCS.
What is the vision for Southside Christian School?
We have talked often and will continue to emphasize the E432 Vision for our school.
ALL OF US can be positive leaders.
EACH OF US should be characterized by the. . .
Forgiveness of Ephesians 4:32 —
Grace and honor extended to ALL OTHERS, no matter our differences —
Grace humbly received —
A willingness to take responsibility for our sin —
Not focused on behavioral checklists of what we think is righteous. All of our righteous acts are filthy rags when compared to Christ’s righteousness —
Focused on Christ’s righteousness —
Focused on the Holy Spirit leading us.
The Lower School staff members have already created a document which indicates the non-negotiable expectations of everyone in “families” they are going to create in their student body.
And I see an developmentally appropriate adaptation of that same document for the Upper School in the future.
I envision older, more mature female students willing to positively mentor the younger girls to help them become mature women in Christ.
Similarly, I envision male students willing to positively mentor younger boys to help them to become mature men in Christ.
As with this year, I hope for an even greater number of Bible studies and prayer groups to pop-up in the student body — during lunch and on weekends.
I would love to learn about students who are willing to go one-on-one or to join small groups in coffee shops for the purpose of spiritual inquiry and growth into the likeness of Jesus.
1 Corinthians 16:13 from the English Standard Version gives men our marching orders in the body of Christ:
“Be watchful. . .
. . .stand firm in the faith. . .
. . .act like men. . .
. . .be strong.” (ESV)
I have always loved those staccato, rapid-fire commands from Paul.
My vision is for men to lead this school spiritually.
Leadership is a spiritual gift of both men and women, so I am not advocating for young men to be the sole leaders in our school, but I am calling the young men to a higher level of maturity and servant leadership than I have seen at Christian schools in the past.
Dr. Barfell presented an excellent devotional from Philippians to all of the staff last Friday morning, during which he made statements that are as true of our Upper School:
We must stand our ground FOR God and AGAINST Satan.
We must stand FOR truth and AGAINST falsehood.
We must stand FOR righteousness and AGAINST sin.
I envision young men and young women treating each other with respect —
Certainly, no disrespectful behaviors —
No bystanders allowing disrespectful behavior —
Friendly young people who welcome new students into their friend groups —
Hallways with positive high-fives, not aggressive physical and emotional bullying —
A lunchroom with students confident of their identities in Christ —
Clubs representing students of all different types —
Athletic teams working together in unity —
A place where dress code becomes dramatically less of a factor, and we are able to pour into each other spiritually —
Students praying with each other at various locations of the school —
I would love to hear about young men and young women engaging in media fasts for the purpose of drawing closer to the Lord and resisting the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) —
Strong leaders who can humbly admit their sin and accept responsibility for their actions.
[I held up the apple again.]
Who will you be? Adam? Eve? Or Boaz? Ruth?
We need young men and young women who will be willing to lead positively next year.
Are you that young man?!
Are you that young woman?!
I challenge you to equip yourself in the summer to be prepared for those opportunities.
Get close to the Lord.
Submit to the Holy Spirit’s work in making you more like Jesus!
Ready yourself to be courageous leaders!
ALL OF YOU!
EACH OF YOU!
Is that vision realistic? Time will tell. I am certainly willing to issue the challenge to all of us.
We must call ourselves to a higher standard than other schools.
Positive spiritual leadership will make Southside Christian a school of influence in the community, in the Southeast, and in the nation.
[During the middle school chapel, I asked the current 8th grade students to stand, and I prayed over them, as they are anticipating the transition from middle school to high school]
[During the high school chapel, I asked the current 11th grade students to stand, and I prayed over them, as they are anticipating their responsibilities to spiritual leadership during the 2018-2019 school year.]