In 2001 an international school for boys asked me to serve as their President. Somewhat reluctant to take on the challenge of a school designed for learning-disabled boys, I was encouraged by the statistical data supporting 20 years of college placement for their graduates. My immediate thought for this astounding success rate had to be attributed to their low teacher-pupil ratio (3:1).
While individualized instruction was a contributing factor for a group of young men who had experienced academic failure in their neighborhood schools, a major factor could be found in their motto: “start anew and flourish.”
After the first year on campus it became apparent there were three major factors contributing to the success of these young men. First, presentation of self was first and foremost. These young men were caught up in a culture of “dress down” and the first order of business was “dress up”. While “dress up” was directed toward your personal appearance it applied to all aspects of life, including your dormitory room, the school campus and other places where you happened to be. A common statement on-campus was “did you make your bed.” Gradually the students lived in an environment, including their personal dress, that was very pleasing. I hasten to add there were “no excuses”, only responsibility and respect.
Secondly, and this is my personal term, they had to empty their trash can. Not literally but their lifestyle trash can. Trash included unfinished commitments, broken relationships, unpaid debt, and forgiveness. In other words start anew. The common statement to describe the empty trash can was; “have you erased the board?”
Thirdly, with the board erased, acceptance of grace and forgiveness was paramount. Old things passed away, all things were new. This is a hard concept to process and the natural course of action is……..”don’t you remember when I……..” or “there is no way I can get forgiveness for what I have done”. Everyone had to subscribe to the concept, especially the parents.
2016 is a great time to take inventory and be sure our “presentation of self” is positive and our “trash can is empty”. The course of action is to make the people we meet and the circumstances we encounter a ‘laboratory’ where the principles our Creator has given to us are placed into action………Start Anew and Flourish.