Inspirational and thought-provoking messages informed by my faith, ministry in education and community development
Dr. Flowers' Blog
In education an often-unappreciated energy that surpasses the excitement of the super bowl emerges annually.... it is called B.O.Y. Nothing rivals the amount of preparation, attention, money spent, enthusiasm, and even increased traffic surrounding B.O.Y. The Beginning Of Year exhilaration gives me fuel annually. New outfits, fresh supplies, hairstyles, backpacks, and lunch kits are contributors but not my B.O.Y. highlights. Anticipations of reuniting with classmates and meeting new friends and teachers add to the excitement as well. The passion of faculty who are driven by the St. Philip's principle that "educating a child is not a rehearsal" brings me a rush. B.O.Y. at St. Philip's also allows me to see the intense hopefulness of parents who distinguish themselves. Most parents are willing to give on behalf of their children. Our parents, however, are not only willing to give on behalf of their children they are willing to GIVE UP something. They forego vacations, vehicles, and vanities in order to pay tuition. This commitment is not a dog whistle of their seriousness about the importance of education, it sends a foghorn of emphasis to our students about the value of academic achievement. This message doesn't trickle into the spirits of our scholars, it flows like mighty rivers. It's a B.O.Y. thing and I am excited about it. Let's thrive together this B.O.Y. 2023-24 as we work to Build Our Youth.
As we move closer to kicking off a new school year, I am humbled to reflect on the blessing St. Philip’s extends to our students. We get to celebrate the Privilege to Pray, Praise and Proclaim God’s Powerful Prevalence.
With our world becoming increasingly divided and determined to depart from core values that promote human flourishing, we strive to teach a lesson that escapes many adults. That lesson is “LIFE GETS TO VOTE!” The architect of our current strategic plan, John Kiser, used this quote in reminding a committee that circumstances and unforeseen factors have a way of disrupting the best of plans.
It’s been said that we make plans and God laughs at us. Just as Life gets to vote, it is also important for our children to know that satan always has a campaign. Since God was uninvited to our schools in 1963, we now have generations lacking a compass to navigate the constant campaign to contaminate, corrupt and condemn our youth.
Dealing with the occasions when Life casts votes that upend the best of your dreams, intentions and efforts is fruitless without faith. As St. Philip’s adds a long-awaited 8th grade class, we are humbled to assure our students with the understanding that they can take comfort the vote is rigged in every campaign favoring HIS believers. “I claim dignity and prosperity. My God promises both.”
Thanks be to GOD for HIS goodness and the worth of his word, as well as HIS will and HIS way.
As we move deeper into this summer my encouragement for all parents is to be on guard for Unplanned Parenthood which besieges our children. This battle employs stealth and self weaponry that adversely impact our children. Just as the advisory is for us to make sure that our weapons are locked away from our children in our households, cautionary measures surrounding technology are in order. Children’s screen time during the summer increases by forty three percent! The screen requires your teen in order for it to survive.
The recommendation for children under two years of age is to have a less than 30 minutes a day of productive, positive screen time, if any. For those over to two years old the healthy recommendation is no more than one hour per day. Research reveals that during the school year, children’s screen time in America averages 7.5 hours a day. The greatest casualty of this undercover custody battle is the reality that excessive screen time is associated with lower math scores, increased obesity and social-emotional declines.
This custody battle never receives its day in court. There is no jury of peers, but the casualties result in parental tears. Our children’s opportunities to enjoy the blue sky are being robbed by the blue screen. Their mental wellness is being victimized by social media’s “hellness". With this battle there is no court of appeal, but impact can result in slow to no heal. Tragically, justice falls upon the parents' personal will which often struggles to model what's proven to be unfit.
When Scripture and fables lose the battle to Instagram and Snap Chat at the dinner table, we take on more casualty in the battle to maintain custody. The loss of custody is never intentional. It is unplanned parenting with potential casualty. Let’s face it. The screen’s potential impact is formidable therefore we must be intentional as custodial stewards of our children’s battles to flourish and thrive. This intention INCLUDES attention to our own screen time modeling. Custody battles start with the custodians.
Forrest Hoglund and I have held a long-term debate over what are the most powerful words for humankind. Anyone familiar with St. Philip’s is aware of one of our key mantras, “If it is to be, it is up to me (ten words).” Prominent businessman and philanthropist, Forrest Hoglund, uses 9 words, If it is to be, it’s up to me. As our friend Forrest approaches his 90th birthday, July 1st 2023, I have a compromise. Whether you use eight, nine, or ten words to get the message across, Forrest would agree that St. Philip’s is simply working to avoid producing “blame throwers.”
Accountability, responsibility, and overcoming obstacles are the order of instruction and experiences in the embattled neighborhood surrounding us. Defiance of the odds and building upon legacies of sacrifices that have paved the way for our current existence. Every Summer for the past 21 years, researchers have published studies about the devastating impact of Summer learning loss. These studies document academic drop-offs are attributable to children being away from school during the Summer. While absence from school is a key factor, parents must dodge becoming Blame Throwers.
“A day without learning is a day wasted.” This is another mantra of St. Philip’s. Thus, every parent is responsible for leveraging time and resources during the Summer to build upon what their children accomplished during the school year. Camps like the one St. Philip’s operates each Summer, along with museums, libraries, churches, and community resources are there to support your “if it is to be, it’s up to me.”
“Parenting can vary but should never vacation.” Don’t become a blame-thrower. Blame never extinguished a fire, paid a bill, or solved a problem. Blame fuels dysfunction everywhere, including in politics and pulpits. Action ignites change. Therefore, in honor of his nine decades of life, I will agree with our dear Kansas University bleeding friend, Forrest Hogland, on the nine most powerful words for humanity under one condition… The condition that “if it is to be, it’s up to me” is only applicable to the power of God within us.
I was recently blessed to be in the presence of four of our nation’s most civically rooted bankers, Elaine Afather, Pete Chillian, Michelle Thomas, and now retired Todd Maclin. These four heavyweights of banking now hold generational depths of experience in working toward community uplift.
Anyone close to St. Philip’s would recognize our belief that “a day without learning is a day wasted.” I received a “knowledge nugget” authored by Todd Maclin when he gave his mentee, Pete Chillian, the greatest professional advice he has ever received. Todd told Pete to remember, “your ego is not your amigo.”
Todd’s Texas flair will resonate in our upcoming chapel service. Our students have already been taught that E.G.O. stands for Edging. God. Out. Thus, “your ego is not your amigo” can not only serve as professional advice, but it can also provide instructional guidance to help children make sense (or cents) of the nonsense of the challenges our country is afflicted with. We can all benefit from Proverbs chapter, 3 verses 5 and 6. We must make sure our e.g.o. does not become our amigo who edges God out. This speaks to our nation’s divide and ethical descent.
An analysis of the amigo ego friendship analogy causes me to reflect to 20 years ago. One of our three-year-old students confided in me that she needed anger management classes. She knew that was the reason she took her classmates’ snacks! Just as this 36-month-old had internalized the adult verbiage and constructs of her surrounding, so it is today with the swarm of overdue and much-needed concentration on social-emotional learning.
Caution is appropriate to make sure our focal confluence does not lead to unwarranted influence wrought with ego-amigo vulnerabilities. Philippians chapter 2, verses 5 – 11. Let’s keep our children lifted in prayer as we help them navigate the entanglements of our society by Encouraging God Often.