It takes very little to prime a pump. A cupful of water can activate the flow of large reservoirs deeply embedded underground.
As school systems struggle financially, one question is how to keep the flow of progress in our schools going, when it looks as if the financial reservoir is running dry. Certainly a top priority should be to provide the best education possible for the rising generation, and some are finding inventive ways to do that. But with funding at a low ebb, how can less become more? It would be naive to think that we can claim a good educational system without the finances needed to maintain it. But perhaps there's a rich resource we've overlooked, one that has great potential – the students themselves.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote, "Ah, children, you are the bulwarks of freedom, the cement of society, the hope of our race!" ("Pulpit and Press," p. 9). Christian Science, which she discovered in 1866, emphasizes that every child holds within himself or herself a great pool of God-given abilities. Education can draw out those individual qualities and make them available to meet the needs of our times. And prayer can be the cupful of water that primes the pump.
In a high school where my daughter taught, she was given a limited budget and asked to prepare a group of students for a music competition in a distant city. New to the district, she found that these same students had competed the year before. But they had performed poorly and had behaved badly during the trip. This cast a negative light on them and on the school. Instead of being a resource, they were seen as quite the opposite. And the activity was also overshadowed by their behavior.
After my daughter discovered this rocky background, her preparation took on a deeper dimension. As she taught them the assigned music, she also made clear their value as a resource and inspiration to their community and to other students. Yet the night before the competition, it appeared they were once again veering out of control.
She called me to pray with her. We didn't pray for specific individuals, but we acknowledged that all the students had an innate character of unspeakable goodness that was God-endowed. Each had a reserve of spiritual integrity that could not be polluted. Every student was exactly what the Scriptures declare God's children to be – the image and likeness of God (see Gen. 1:26).
When my daughter returned to the students, the atmosphere in the room was entirely different. They were talking with one another, quietly excited about the next day. Their performance was outstanding, and the rest of the trip was without incident. Although fewer funds were available for the event, these students had become a source of community pride and had proved that success was possible.
Less becomes more when the true character of God's children shines in the community. Prayer that recognizes the great reservoir of God-given qualities in each child just might enable us to tap into the greatest resource of all.