MATTHEW 18 PRINCIPLE FOR SOLVING SCHOOL PROBLEMS
TEMPLE CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
Jesus said, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one to another." (John 13:34 35)
Due to our human nature, we may at times irritate others, resulting in misunderstandings or strong disagreements. In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus gives HIS formula for solving person-to-person problems. We call it "the Matthew 18 principle for solving school problems". The following are the words of Jesus: "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglects to hear the church let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican."
There are several clear principles that Jesus taught in solving people-to-people problems:
* Keep the matter confidential. The very pattern of sharing the problem only with those directly involved establishes the principle of confidentiality. The Bible has much to say about those who gossip or malign others with their words. "A hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered." (Proverbs 11:9)
* Keep the circle small - "...if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone..."
The following steps will delineate the order in which scriptural problem solving will be upheld at T. C. A.:
STEP ONE - TWO-PEOPLE LEVEL:
The first step and most often the only step needed in solving a person-to-person problem is for one of the two people involved to initiate face to face dialogue. Most problems are solved at the two people level.
* Be straightforward - "...tell him his fault...". Jesus tells us to be forthright and to love honesty. Sometimes it is difficult to be straightforward and tell someone the very heart of the matter. But restoration and improvement can only come when the issues are lovingly and clearly presented. The Scripture says "...faithful are the wounds of a friend..." (Proverbs 27:6)
* Be forgiving - "...if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother". This implies that once the matter is resolved we should wholeheartedly forgive and restore the person whose fault has offended us. Galatians 6:1 reads: "...if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness: considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
As mentioned earlier, most school problems are resolved at the two people level. Forgiveness and restoration is the normal happy conclusion. But what is the Matthew 18 principle if the individual will not "hear" you, or openly disagrees with your version of the problem? Let's say you are a parent of a student in a Christian school. You are unhappy with a teacher because you believe your child is being treated unfairly in the classroom. The two of you have met and talked together and you are not satisfied with the outcome of your discussion. What is the next step?
Reprinted August 20, 2007
STEP TWO - CONCERNS IN WRITING:
If the two people level did not reach a satisfactory conclusion, in order to ensure that a misunderstanding regarding the issue did not take place and clear and precise communication was conveyed, all concerns should then be expressed in writing and a copy given to the teacher and a copy kept for your records. If upon receipt of the letter by the teacher, a satisfactory resolution still has not been derived within a reasonable time period, the third step in the problem solving process must be exercised.
STEP THREE - INVOLVEMENT OF PRINCIPAL/ADMINISTRATOR:
The parent and the teacher should agree to share the matter with the school principal/administrator. At this stage the counsel of Jesus would be "...take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established."
Both parent and teacher should rehearse their version of the issue or issues with the school's administration. Each person should come to the meeting in a spirit of prayer and humility, willing to submit to the Lord's will in the matter and also willing to submit to reproof and correction if needed. Those of us who bear the name of Christ should joyfully conform to the will of Christ. An open and honest discussion among people who are sensitive to godly principles will most often reach an amiable solution.
Let's say a problem now exists and is not solvable by the normal channels of communication and established school policy. What is the next step in the Matthew 18 principle?
STEP FOUR - INVOLVEMENT OF SCHOOL COMMITTEE:
Researchers estimate that 80% of school problems are solved at the two people level. Another 18% of school problems are solved at the third level which includes the school's administration. This leaves 2% to be resolved at the level of the school Committee. The Committee represents the church or church community.
The school principal/administrator should pass along the written concerns from the parent(s) to the Chairman of the school Committee. The Committee Chairman will request that all persons involved be present at a school Committee meeting. The goals of such a high-level meeting are to:
1) establish a clear understanding of the problem;
2) solve the problem;
3) give reproof, correction and restitution if necessary; and
4) offer forgiveness and wholehearted restoration of those who have made amends.
* * * * * * * * * * *
In summary, the Matthew 18 principle requires that parents talk to teachers about student problems before they talk to administrators or Committee members. If unresolved at the two people level, the matter is prayerfully and in an orderly fashion moved upward in the school organizational structure. This is the Lord's way of solving people-to-people problems.
A Christian school is a ministry in Christ's name. Everything that is done in the context of the school must be done Christ's way. The world's methods of solving school problems are inappropriate. Satan would like to destroy the normal flow of harmony and good fellowship in Christian school education. That is not possible if all of us follow the Matthew 18 principle of solving school problems.
NOTE: Portions of this material are based on an article by Dr. Paul A. Kienel, ACSI Executive Director, entitled "For Solving School Problems - Matthew 18".
Approved by TCA Committee on October 30, 1995 Reprinted August 20, 2007