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Academic Excellence (credit Debby Hudson from Unsplash)

Dear Parents, the staff and I will be reflecting on the third part of our school’s mission statement, i.e. “academic excellence … to the glory of God”, this term. So, what might this look like from a Biblical perspective? We came up with the following reflection during our most recent Inservice / Teacher Only day.


The dictionary says that, used as an adjective (as it is in our mission statement), academic is “relating to education and scholarship, relating to an educational or scholarly institution or environment, (of an institution or a course of study) placing a greater emphasis on reading and study than on technical or practical work, (of a person) interested in or excelling at scholarly pursuits and activities” - loosely paraphrased “learning by reading and study”.

So, what does the Bible tell us about reading and study? Here are some examples (please note that the verses below are not meant to be exhaustive):

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.(Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:  And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.(Deuteronomy 17:15, 18-20)

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

What do these verses suggest about the meaning of the word “academic” in the Christian education we offer at TPCS? Not only is our school’s academic programme built on the foundation of God’s Word, but it also seeks to develop a scholarly understanding of it by encouraging the memorisation, reading and diligent study of Scripture as well as the learning areas that enable us to understand it better – such as English, the arts, health and physical education, foreign languages, mathematics and statistics, science, social science and technology. Academics prepare us for the good works “which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10), enabled by the Holy Spirit.


The dictionary definition for excellence is “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good”. From a Biblical perspective, being outstanding or extremely good seem most applicable when it is seen as the pursuit of, or abounding in, Christ-like virtue, i.e. “behaviour showing high moral standards”. I am reminded of Jesus' words, “And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God” (Mark 10:17-18). So, if excellence is the quality of being extremely good and God is the only One that is good, I believe the Bible suggests true excellence is characteristic of people who understand that they have been made in God’s image, that they have been “saved” by what Jesus Christ has done on the cross, and they are striving to live in a lifegiving relationship with their Heavenly Father, empowered by the Holy Spirit. 

In my opinion, one of the best passages commenting on this aspect of our relationship with God is 2 Peter 1:5-8, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Biblical excellence is therefore rooted in characterthat is built on faith in the Creator of the heavens and the earth, whose love towards us is expressed by the salvation He has made freely available to everyone who believes that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). It is important to note that this is not “blind” faith but an informed faith. One of our aims at TPCS is to show students that there is good evidence behind the faith we have in the God of the Bible.

Once someone has faith, we aim to create an environment that will encourage our students to add virtueto their faith. Virtue, intrinsic or attributed excellence, can only come if they have extensive knowledge of the Word. Knowledge without temperance, i.e. self-control, leads to pride. Temperance is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23) which becomes visible through the patience we exercise, another fruit of the Holy Spirit. Having the fruit of the Holy Spirit implies someone understands the importance of pursuing godliness, i.e. gratefully living in accordance with the principles of salvation and life outlined in God’s Word. However, Biblical godliness is fully expressed when we exhibit brotherly kindness, or as John puts it, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20)

So how then can we describe “academic excellence” from a Biblical perspective? Academic excellence becomes possible when we strive to live a godly life, as it is described in the Scriptures. True “academic excellence” glorifies God and is never about being better than others. This means that it is achievable for every student because Biblical academic excellence has nothing to do with how I compare to others, but it has everything to do with my attitude towards my work as something that glorifies God, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

It is also important for students to understand that their “job” right now is to be in school! Not only do they get the opportunity to study and learn more about the Bible, but they also get an opportunity to start applying it to their lives daily since its message and principles are eternally relevant: “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4).

We look forward to working with you this term! Please contact your child(ren)’s teacher if you have any concerns about their progress towards academic excellence.


Barend Blom - Principal

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