As we end the school year with our final chapel today, I want to take the time to share from my heart what my prayers and wishes will be for each of you as I retire this summer. I am stepping down after being involved in various roles at the school for over 20 years—the last 6 as principal. It seems only fitting that I take this last opportunity to speak to you in my final chapel talk today and address you as a student body and as individuals who I have come to know and love.
To prepare for this chapel, I looked back over our chapel themes and various talks I have given over the years. I hope that you will remember along with me some of the big ideas I have spoken about over the years.
One of the first series I spoke about in chapel several years ago comes from Eph. 4:32 which says—
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
In chapel that year we sang songs like “ They’ll know we are Christians by our Love.” We talked about how we couldn’t just come up with kindness on our own—but that if we truly know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior—we will be able to show His kindness to others. We talked about how that kindness would show up on the playground, in PE, and in the way we talk to others. All of the classes memorized this Bible verse that year, and Mrs. Williams’ class made me a framed copy of that verse that hangs in my office today. As I say farewell to you, my wish for you is that long after I am gone, you will “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
The next year in chapel, we spent the whole year talking about Micah 6:8 which says—
He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
We looked at examples in the Bible of those who do justly (which means doing the right and fair thing) and what it means to love mercy by showing kindness and mercy to others. Again, we talked about how we treat others by words and actions, both at home and at school. And we talked about what it means to walk humbly with our God. We talked about simple actions that demonstrate humility like not having to always have our way, not having to be first in line all the time, and not having to win every game in PE. We talked about how you don’t have to wait until you are an adult to follow Micah 6:8. I shared some amazing stories about children who saw people with needs and how they helped others. And so, as I say farewell to you, my wish for you is that you will ask the Lord to help you to be able to “do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
The following year, we studied the fruit of the Spirit. My wish for you as I say goodbye is that you would ask God to develop in you the fruit of His Spirit—that you would experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
Last year in chapel, we studied from the book of Proverbs and its emphasis on the fact that we are called to seek wisdom—so that we might be wise men and women, wise boys and girls. Do you remember our verse from Proverbs last year? It said—
Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom, and in all your getting, get understanding.
We talked about searching for truth and wisdom and how we can find it in several places: by reading God’s word, by listening to our parents and teachers, by following good examples, and by being open to instruction and correction. The book of Proverbs tell us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” We identified the characteristics of wise people: how they avoid evil, they work hard, they are humble, they control their anger, and they speak carefully. My wish for you, as I say farewell is that you understand that the purpose in attending a school like Annapolis is not just learning a bunch of facts so you can get good grades. My wish for you is that you grow to understand that God desires that you become wise.
Annapolis offers many fine programs. The school is known for its strong academic program, and many of you have worked hard this year and done well in. Many of you have been on the honor roll—some of you for the whole year. Your parents and teachers and I are proud of you—but please remember that academic achievement is not the most important thing.
Many of you have enjoyed our athletic programs by competing in sports—and we have all cheered on our teams. We have been proud of all of our teams and celebrated their victories—even state championships this year for the older teams. But athletic awards are not the most important achievement.
Some of you have excelled in music and theatre and art. Maybe you were selected to sing in a solo or you earned a part in our theatre production. Or, perhaps you were especially pleased with some of your art work as it was displayed in our art shows. Those are all wonderful accomplishments, but they are not the most important thing.
Academics, athletics, the arts—these are all right and fitting as part of a classical and Christian school. As I close, please know that my true wish for you as you continue at Annapolis Christian Academy and even beyond as you grow into adulthood is that you learn to know God more and more each year. I am not talking about learning about God—in your studies of the Bible in school, in your Bible memory program, and as you attend chapel at school—but that you will really know God. That is my ultimate wish for you.
Please know that I as I retire, I will continue to pray for you. My prayers will be that you are growing in your knowledge of God—that you are seeking wisdom, that the fruit of the spirit is growing in the gardens of your hearts, that you are learning to do justly, love mercy, and developing humility. And finally, I will be praying that you are being kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another.