Sacrifice. That’s frankly not a word that we’re all that comfortable discussing in 2019. In a nation and culture as comfortable as ours, it’s uncomfortable for us to think about “Sacrificing.” We don’t like the idea of “Going without” in order to accomplish a greater goal.
In the context of a private Christian Education, the concept of sacrifice comes up pretty quickly in the conversation as new families consider our school. Since our financial model requires parents to pay tuition, the immediate assumption of sacrifice goes directly to money. We can easily compare/contrast “Free” public education or home school options versus the expense of a private, Christian education. I have given many multiple hundreds of tours of Eastern Christian School to interested families in my time at EC. Eventually the conversation comes down to, “So how much is this going to cost me?”
While the financial piece is certainly a critical decision factor (more on this later), I’d like to suggest that we pivot the conversation to a different understanding. That understanding is this: Parenting = Sacrifice.
Even though we’re not comfortable talking about sacrifice, as parents, we certainly know sacrifice experientially. When you enter into parenthood, you’re signing up for a lifetime of sacrifice. Any parent of a newborn knows this very well!
My family recently had another member join our ranks: our son Arlo was born this past summer. He joins his older sister and brother. He’s been an absolute joy and a tremendous blessing to everyone in our family. And he also requires increased sacrifice for his parents. We sacrifice sleep, energy, finances, time, and all of the other things that loving parents sacrifice. We don’t think twice about these sacrifices- they are incredibly worthwhile- but that doesn’t change the fact that we do sacrifice. Sacrifice is embedded into parenting. You can’t have one without the other. And since resources are finite, spending time/money/energy resources on one thing means that it can’t be spent on something else.
This is true of every choice that we make as parents. Every decision made involves sacrifice. Educational choices are no different. I’d like to suggest that educational choice is not a “free,” public school, vs. “the sacrifice” of a tuition-paying member of a Christian School. I’d suggest that all choices contain elements of sacrifice. So our choice as parents isn’t whether to sacrifice, it’s how to sacrifice.
Let’s take a little journey through EC History. This is a community that knows what it means to sacrifice! What business do a bunch of immigrants have starting a school from scratch in 1892? Imagine the level of sacrifice to start a school from scratch and, within a year, have over 100 students! How does Eastern Christian School own 38 acres of land in land-expensive Northern New Jersey? How did the EC Community of the 1950’s and 1960’s put up three campuses (North Haledon, 1955, Wyckoff, 1959, Midland Park, 1966) in the period of 11 years? If you tried to do all of that in the 2019 economy, the present-day financial investment would be well north of $50,000,000! There’s even a famous story of the EC Board of Directors, during the hardship of the Great Depression, using their own personal finances to fund the payroll of EC faculty and staff!
Today, EC parents sacrifice finances for tuition. Many sacrifice time, gas, and distance as they drive many miles to drop off/pick up their kids every day from a campus or a community bus stop. Many more EC parents sacrifice “above and beyond” with their time, talent, and treasure as board members, classroom volunteers, fundraisers, and community builders.
If it’s true that we don’t get to choose whether to sacrifice, but how to sacrifice, then it’d make sense to think through things that parents sacrifice. What are you sacrificing in the choices that you’ve made for your child’s education? Are you sacrificing finances? Distance? Spiritual direction? Biblical worldview? Christian community? Safety? Strong academics? Life training? College readiness?
As parents, prayerfully think through which sacrifices you can live with. And those you can’t live without.
Before this post gets me in trouble, let me offer myself an “Out Clause.” I’m not suggesting that Christian education is the ONLY option that any Christian parents should consider. While it’s certainly my personal conviction that Christian schools like EC are the best sacrificial choice for my children, there’s a whole world of educational choices out there: Public Schools, Charter Schools, Private Schools, Christian Schools, Home School. As you consider schooling options that best fit your child, it’s important to think through all of the factors involved. Just to name a few common ones:
The answers to each of these questions weighs the benefits of different sacrifices against the benefits for your child and for your family. What if you find that EC is the perfect school for your family, but you live 2 hours away? Are you willing to drive 4 hours/day to make this happen? Probably not! We’ve had many families in these situations move their families closer to EC (Moving- another sacrifice!) in order to make the sacrifice/benefit ratio skew more in their family’s favor.
**Helpful tip: we have a prospective parent guide that’s fully dedicated to help parents as they consider school options for their child.**
I’d be remiss to share a blog post on sacrifice and not mention the ultimate sacrifice of our savior Jesus Christ- our perfect example who literally sacrificed everything on our behalf. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Christians- people who take on the name of Christ- live lives full of sacrifice.
It’s my prayer for all Christian families that, as you consider educational options for your child, you seek to understand a 360 view and to prayerfully consider the best school option for your child. As you do so, I certainly hope that you’ll give EC a shot.
It is a sacrifice worth considering.