I have been sharing some of my ponderings of Psalm 103. The format of my time in God’s Word is the ART model, which I have only shared about very briefly. I want to share a bit of the background of how The ART of Excellence came about and my heart for where I believe God is taking me with it. I hope you are both blessed and challenged.
And feel free to let me know if you would like more info.
By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers. Wisdom is too high for a fool; in the assembly at the gate he has nothing to say.
Proverbs 24:3-7 (NIV)
In 2002, in the midst of a great deal of turmoil, I found myself back in school, initially hoping just to earn an associates degree with certification as an Education Para-professional (a teacher’s aide). I was terrified at the idea, but felt it was the only choice that made sense at that time. Once I got started, and found that I actually had something to offer and thoughts worth voicing, I wanted more! I wanted to learn how to make a difference in the lives of those who might follow behind me – especially in the lives of women who also believed they had no voice. I thought if I could start young enough, perhaps the tide could be turned and save them from years of heartache. With that, I launched into a plan to earn a bachelors degree in educational psychology. But God had other plans.
After transferring to the university, into an interdisciplinary study program that allowed me to tailor my degree to what I was really passionate about, I began to discover that my calling was much larger than I could have ever imagined. My advisor and mentor introduced me to the work of Parker Palmer and my heart for education reform grew beyond the idea of school and turned to the basics of how we are designed to learn and grow in our knowledge and understanding of life. In response to an assignment for a class that focused on the benefit of using memoirs (others’ and our own) to look at childhood in America I received insight and inspiration. God led me to Proverbs 24:3-7 and revealed a very different view of the process of learning and addressing the world. This turned everything I knew about schooling upside down, but I knew deep in the core of my being that this was truly a revelation that I was supposed to do something with. And with that the very beginnings of The ART of Excellence was borne.
You may be wondering how I got from the passage in Proverbs to ART. As I studied and pondered my connection to that passage, the movement was what struck me so deeply. The norm in education and life in general says that the movement is from knowledge to understanding and then to wisdom. How many times have we all heard, in one form or another, “Study hard and when you’ve gathered enough knowledge you will come to understand? Then as you grow in your understanding and expertise, you will attain wisdom.” That is basically what I had heard all my life in every setting – school, church, work, sports, friendships – all of it. But that’s not what is presented in Proverbs 24; the movement is just the opposite. Start with wisdom (pure, untainted view of the nature of God) which provides the foundation and the structure of building of the house; then it is established (proven and substantiated) through understanding; and then, and only then, should knowledge (the practical tools and the finishing touches) be pursued.
Wisdom. Understanding. Knowledge. So, how does that become ART? I pondered what it might look to pursue wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. What were other ways of expressing these concepts? What came to me were the words: Anticipate, Resonate, and Translate. How do we gain wisdom or see God through pure, untainted eyes? I express that through the picture of sitting in His presence and listening to Him with great anticipation, ready for Him to reveal Himself to us as He truly is, not as we conceive Him to be. When we see God for Himself, not as someone who conforms to our imagining of Him, He reveals His wisdom to us.
What does it look like to gain understanding? It means that we take an idea, a concept, a truth, or an instruction right into the deepest part of who we are and we conform ourselves to it. We begin to allow that thing to affect every part of who we are. In other words, we allow it to resonate with us, spirit and soul. We allow it to become second nature to us. When I resonate with something or someone, there is a oneness that changes me and changes my thinking and my behaviors. When the truth of God’s character resonates within us, it is life changing!
Once we are able to see God and His purposes and thus gain wisdom and then to allow truth to resonate and bring us to a deep understanding of how situations, circumstance, people, ideas, or issues affect our being, then we are ready for knowledge. How will we translate this wisdom and understanding into action that is appropriate to the needs that are evident? What will we do with the specifics, the bytes of information, the blessings or the challenges we face?
I began to wonder what it might look like to follow this movement in my own schooling, and on what levels and areas it might apply. So far it seems to be extremely versatile. I have used this model in the elementary classroom, with great enthusiasm from the supervising teacher. I have used it as a basis for teaching a university level course on critical pedagogy. I have used it in parenting classes. I have written a workbook, Prayer: The ART of Devotion, which provides a basis for understanding prayer and coming into the Presence of God. I am currently working on The ART of Excellence: A Christ-centered Approach to CARE, a multi-faceted endeavor seeking to train and empower bodies of believers in loving and effective ways to address felt needs within their communities.
God has put a passion in my heart to understand His plan to break generational curses, so that all His beloved creation can know the freedom and release He has promised through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I look forward to this part of the vision coming into clearer focus. I am truly thankful for the many advisers who have been a part of preparing me for the battle ahead. A battle for life.