What follows is my address given at the Sunshine Christian School Graduation Service in December of 2016. This was my last address to the Sunshine Christian School community.
Parents of Grade 6 students, I share something in common with you tonight. I’m sure you feel like it was only yesterday that your child started Prep. Tonight I feel like it was only yesterday that I gave my first principal’s address at our graduation service. The time has gone so quickly!
I would like to acknowledge the parents of this school. For the support you give your own child and the children of others through volunteering. Whether it was leading a craft group, helping with garden club, hearing students read, covering books, making costumes, helping with events and excursions, helping with PMP, assisting at morning teas, prep transition days, mother day and father’s day stall – your work has had a wonderful impact on our community and I thank you for this service. I thank you to for your ongoing and unwavering commitment to the ministry of our school. Your personal support for me over the years has been greatly appreciated.
In addition to farewelling our Grade 6 class, we say goodbye to other families as they moving out of the region. To the families leaving us this year, we wish you God’s richest blessings as you settle into new homes and schools. Thank you for blessing us with your time in our community.
I thank the community of St Matthew’s Lutheran church for their ongoing support of this ministry. The commitment of St Matthew’s to prayer and practical support only grows.
I thank the school council for their tireless efforts in governing the school and for their exemplary support and encouragement for me as the school’s principal. I will continue to pray for you as you lead our school to ‘live as children of light – loving God, loving others and loving learning’
I wish to acknowledge our regional director and the entire staff of the LEVNT regional office for their ongoing support both of me and the school. The regional office has always gone above and beyond to support our little school and their tireless work plays a large role in our ongoing success as a community.
Tonight many have said such lovely things about me, but allow me a last word in this matter. The staff of Sunshine have made me look good. A principal can only lead where the people will follow and the staff of Sunshine have supported me and our ministry with unfailing commitment and hard work. The good results we see in our children are testament to the work of this community – not just the leadership of the bloke at the top. I count it the greatest honour to have had the privilege to serve alongside you and will look on with great fondness as you continue to serve the community of Sunshine.
The equation for a great Christian school is simple. God plus great staff plus great families equals great kids. That is what makes our school great.
Many parents have asked me if I am looking forward to leaving the community and starting work at Lakeside College. The honest answer is ‘No’. I follow God’s calling willingly, but do so knowing that I leave a very special school. I have never experienced a community where there is such love and support between students, parents and staff. I will miss the school and the community a great deal.
Enough about the grown ups…And so, the time comes for the Principal to offer a few words of advice to the young men and women of the Grade 6 class.
Grade 6, one of the things I have enjoyed most about serving as your principal is how forgiving you have been to me. I haven’t always got it right. I’ve had grumpy days. I’ve forgotten to mark your work. I’ve snuck a diet coke and chocolate in the class and devoured them while you weren’t looking. You’ve all seen how terrible my handwriting is. I know you’ve had your bad days too. We’ve sat in my office talking about mistakes and needed improvement of attitude!
A long time ago there was a bloke called Abraham. He lived in a city and was living an average life. Out of nowhere, God told him to leave his city and family, head out into the desert and create a new community in a new land. The Bible tells us that Abraham made a lot of mistakes. He didn’t always trust God. He made poor decisions. He didn’t listen. He didn’t always care for his family and friends. But despite this, through Abraham the entire world was blessed. He is known as the Father of nations.
Likewise, your principal hasn’t always made the correct decisions, I have been far from perfect, but God has continued to bless our community greatly. A lot of people have said a lot of nice things about me tonight but always remember that the good you see in me in the Lord working. What I do, what we do, should always be for his purposes and his glory.
Mistakes are not the end of you, they are the beginning. What makes the character of a man or woman is what happens after the mistakes. Grade 6 you will make mistakes and have rough times – but don’t that be the end of the story. Be ready to learn from your mistakes, seek forgiveness when needed and get back to important work you have been given.
Have great courage. There is a large world out there that needs people who care deeply about others. Go where God needs his people to work. Do not choose a path that is easy and brings reward for you only, seek always to place the needs of others above your own. Do God’s work, not your own. Follow his calling regardless of where it may lead.
Do not chose a job that pays the best, chose a job that allows you to best use your unique skills to help others. Remember that our country needs good cleaners as much as it needs good doctors, good plumbers as much as good engineers.
God will trust you with great work that will benefit this world so keep your ears open to his call.
May the creator God, who was with in the beginning, has walked with you at school, and now goes with you to High School, remind you frequently of his grace, mercy and deep love. May you be like Abraham, may the world be blessed through you.