“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” James 4:10
It had been a close call, but thanks to Shasta’s bravery, the lion had not killed either of the horses or the children as they raced toward sanctuary. One of the children, Shasta, a poor fisherman’s boy, had leapt off of Bree’s back and, with only a stick as a weapon, confronted the lion as the others galloped away. Miraculously, the lion seemed startled and fled. The next day Bree, a mighty war horse from Calormen (but born a talking horse in Narnia), felt ashamed for running when he too should have fought the lion. He was dejected and wouldn’t eat when their host, the Hermit, brought him food. He was too lost in self-pity and hurt pride to want to continue their journey north to freedom in Narnia. The Hermit gave Bree some good counsel:
“If you are really so humbled as you sounded a minute ago, you must learn to listen to sense. You’re not quite the great horse you had come to think, from living among poor dumb horses. Of course you were braver and cleverer than them. You could hardly help being that. It doesn’t follow that you’ll be anyone very special in Narnia. But as long as you know you’re nobody very special, you’ll be a very decent sort of Horse, on the whole, and taking one thing with another.” (From A Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis)
In the early years of Logos School’s existence, it wasn’t very hard to be humble. Given a heavy responsibility (teaching impressionable, precious young minds) and equipped only with a profound knowledge of one’s own ignorance, an inflated view of oneself is rarely the result. Fortunately, the first families to invest in Logos had greater confidence in the staff than the staff had in themselves. But it was still pretty iffy at times. Mistakes abounded, small and rather large, and it didn’t help knowing that out there, somewhere, other families and educators were watching the first stumbling steps of this new school on the block.
It only made it easier to be humble, not harder, when we had enough students to warrant purchasing buses and picking up our students on routes in Moscow. When our bus would drive by the local junior high school, our kids slowly, but obviously, slid down in the seats, out of sight of the mocking cat-calls. The name on the bus was enough to elicit such taunts, but the buses frequently breaking down in front of the world didn’t help either. Sitting by the road, steam coming out from the hood and/or parts on the ground beneath, our name placarded on the side for all passing motorists to see – our buses were certainly not fodder for the cannons of pride.
But, as they say, times change. God was full of grace to the often humiliated little school. Years passed and more families came, staff members stayed longer, the curriculum and program improved, the vision became clearer, the board found more unity in purpose and direction, and we moved to our own, far more visible and school-like site. The morale of the student population rose, the secondary program flourished, building upon a solid foundation in the grammar years until today, scores of laudable graduates later, we have an increasing number of National Merit finalists, SAT and ACT scores continue to improve, families move to Moscow from around the country to put their children in Logos, and dozens of other sister classical schools look to us as an example. Pretty heady stuff.
Like Bree, we have, in educational terms, become kind of a war horse. It would be foolish and even ungrateful to deny the good gifts God has blessed us with as evidenced by the preceding list. But it would be even more foolish and far more destructive to allow the arrogance of the mind and pride of the flesh to be tolerated in this school. We don’t want to forget the lesson of Nebuchadnezzar and think by our cleverness we have built Logos.
Humility begins and flows from a heart surrendered to the living God, not a mind full of even good knowledge. This is truly a difficult task: the more we teach these students, the more tempting it is for them to be arrogant toward our culture’s “educational” system or instructors who continue to teach foolishness. We must teach what we know, and the world will continue to show its folly. The only variable in the equation above is our students’ heart attitude. We can and do teach these students truly wonderful ideas, facts, and concepts that, when humbly used “in the presence of the Lord” can be great weapons that tear down worldly philosophies. We have had the joy of seeing our graduates discombobulate secular university professors. But by God’s grace we can only model, we can’t use a curriculum to instill true humility in those same students. Like all the most important teachings, only the home and the parents can impress on their children the vital need to walk humbly before their Creator.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord requires of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8