Monday, August 23, 2010

Message from Dr. Phil Adams, Principal JH/SH & Central Elementary

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

Proverbs 14:4 -- English Standard Version

Raising oxen is messy business. We are all familiar with the smells associated with the farm yard. When it rains it can be particularly unpleasant. And yet, who would advocate for doing away with oxen or farms because of the smell? Who would hold the oxen “responsible” for what they produce, which the farmer must clean up for them? We put up with a certain amount of unpleasantness because of the great benefit we gain from the oxen that occupy that manger.

The metaphor is an apt one for working with children in the Christian school. We as adults should take the same approach with our students. These kids are the future of our churches, families, and community. The “abundant crops” will certainly come, as they have come for us. We should not despair at the immaturity or lack of “cleanliness” produced by young people. That is what they do. We frequently hear “How is that possible in the Christian School?” This is usually said when a child does or says something ungodly.

Just as the farmer must clean up after his oxen, we must also clean up after our kids. But the farmer willingly cleans the manger because he knows that the ox will more than make up for the mess by the profit it will provide for the farmer. The same holds true with our students. We love them. We recognize that God has a plan for their lives that will not only bless them, but will bless the lives of untold numbers of people in the future. It is not a question of if the mess will come, but when and to what degree. We as teachers, administrators, and parents are the under shepherds, being used of God to mold these young lives.

So, I would ask: Do we want clean mangers or abundant crops? The two are mutually exclusive.


  1. Doc,

    Thank you. Perspective is so crucial to remember the principle of trajectory. Each of our students are, ideally, in a place of positively making slight, often unseen, adjustments to their spiritual maturity's trajectory. As you so often remind me, I must give them permission to not be 36.

    Jeff Blake

  2. Phil,

    Well said, and an apt metaphor as well. Thank you!


  3. Thank you for this devotion. It is so true. We need to produce an abundant crop, for these children are our future. It is awesome to know that we have a part in that.


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