Slouching Toward Bedlam

Be Thou My Vision Statement—Or: A Mission Is as Good as a Mile

Jan Kaarsvlam recently emailed the CEJ board to discover why he was not given the position of editor.  He has learned, much to his distress, that they were concerned that his proposed thirty-six-part-series on the educational philosophy of Hendrick dePflegm (the little-known leader of a small group of Flemish immigrants who hoped to found a Calvinist nation in the swamps of southern New Jersey and were never heard from again except for a twelve-page note found nailed to a tree outlining an argument for something called superinfra-lapidarianism and ending with the enigmatic words “We need to find some food, or barring that, rubber boots”) might eventually become a bit tedious.  Jan is currently between jobs.

“The last thing we need is a new mission statement!” shouted Bedlam’s science teacher S. Brian O’Brainargh as he stomped into the staff room.  Conversations about sports teams, health care, quilting and the best way to get chili stains off a garage door died a swift death as all eyes turned toward the excitable O’Brainargh.  He hit the edge of the table with a sheaf of papers he was holding and continued.

“I mean, correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t we just go through this rigmarole five years ago?  I don’t have time to sit through another series of endless meetings, arguing over whether the word therefore implies that the school isn’t giving low-achieving phys ed students equal focus with low-achieving metal shop students!  What’s wrong with our old mission statement?”

The room was silent, except for choir teacher Carrie Wellema, who sighed deeply, and shop teacher Gord Winkle, who was reading Fitness magazine while gnawing on a chicken drumstick that he had spread peanut butter on.

Biology teacher Sam Toomer cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention and said, “I know it’s hard work, but I think this whole mission statement thing is important.  We are living through the end times, beset by powers and dominions we cannot see, so we really need to be intentional about our mission if we want to be found faithful in our task come Judgment Day.”

Toomer’s eschatology, being based on a Southern Baptist understanding of scripture, tended to be a bit more dire than the rest of the staff’s, but O’Brainargh saved everyone else the embarrassing problem of trying to move the conversation forward.  “Exactly!” he shouted.  “Come Judgment Day, I want to be busy doing something important, and sitting for hours on end arguing silly semantics for a document that none of us can remember six months after its composition, well, that just doesn’t feel important to me.”

“What is our current mission statement?” asked Gord as he licked greasy peanut butter from his fingers.  “Is it, ‘We graduate competent students with a comprehensive Christian worldview’ or is it, ‘We graduate comprehensive students with a competent Christian worldview’?”
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