Heathdale flower 13th May 2022

The Little Dot!

It's common to let negative thinking spiral down as we get so taken up by problems, completely forgetting God's great resources of grace that can bless our community.

Heathdale flower

I was recently tidying a collection of papers that had accumulated on my desk. My initial temptation was to pick up this whole bundle and dump it into the recycling bin! Fortunately, I resisted this urge because a small voice kept whispering in my head; ‘Careful Ross, you may be throwing something significant away!’ Dutifully and systematically, I sorted the piles out; filed what I needed to file, scanned what I needed to scan and disposed what I needed to discard. I experienced a tremendous sense of satisfaction upon completion of this monumental task! However, it did take me much longer than I had anticipated, because every now and then I would come across an article or report that captured my attention and I just had to read it.

One of the articles that I came across was written by the educational expert, Dr Bill Rogers, on positive classroom management. As I read his article, a flood of old memories took me back to my days when I was a relatively inexperienced Prep Teacher. Dr Rogers was making the point that often classroom management or as he often calls it ‘mismanagement’, is because of what teachers focus on. He used a simple diagram to prove his point.

There was a diagram of a box with a dot drawn in the middle. Dr Rogers asked, “What do you see?” He reports that 99.99% of people respond, “I see a dot.” The other 0.01% respond, “I see a whole lot of white and a dot in the middle!”

Dr Rogers was making the point that the first group focus on the dot, where-as the second group focus on the white surrounding the dot. He went on to explain that because people have a different focus, they therefore respond to things differently. As I sat and pondered this idea, I realised that this is so true. This fascinating insight has been just as much a life lesson for me as it is a principle that has guided my teaching.

As I sat with Dr Roger’s reflection, the words from the New Testament Book of the Bible, Colossians came to mind; “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, God has now reconciled you through Jesus’ death on the cross, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him. (God).” Colossians 1:21-22 (The English Version)

Many people have the perspective and suggest that the problems we face in contemporary culture far outweigh the problems with which previous generations had to grapple with. Issues such as widespread drug addiction, violence against women, pornography and the dependence on alcohol, resistance to God-given authority, incivility, an obsession with self to name but a few.

To focus on these issues, it is easy to fall into negative thinking and allow our minds to spiral downwards because we become so taken up with the problems but completely forget the resources that God has made available to each of us.

I can recall once having read the comment: ‘The early Christians or Followers of Jesus did not say in dismay, “Look what the world has come to,” but with a different perspective and understanding, and with surprise and energy proclaimed, “Look what has come to the world!” (Same words, different order reflecting a very different meaning!)

The early followers of Jesus saw not just the ruin of their day, but they also saw and recognised the resources available to reconstruct and repair the ruin. Though darkness increased in their time, too, the early Christians also saw that God’s grace also increased all the more. Captured by this reassurance, the followers of Jesus in the first century did not allow themselves to be preoccupied with the problems that surrounded them. Instead, they opened themselves to God and became a blessing to their community.

This same sense of confidence is something each of us can also posses. For followers of Jesus our confidence is not generated through positive talk or mind set, as our confidence is based on the realisation that our lives are linked and empowered by God, and when we make ourselves fully reliant on the resources He provides for us.

This unique perspective we wish to share with our students and our community is best summed up in the phrase: ‘the Christian life is not our responsibility but our response to His (God’s) ability.’

The Staff and I hope and pray that each member of this community can be known as a people who respond to His (God’s) ability and are able to let God work in us and through us, individually and collectively. And as a result of His work, we are able to be a blessing to our community, bring a sense of hope, life and love into a world that so often seems to focus on our challenges and troubles.