by Sara Breetzke

This spring I heard an interview with David Brooks discussing his new book, The Second Mountain. Brooks’ premise is that most of us begin our life journey climbing a mountain of ego and self-definition. He calls this the first mountain. The first mountain must be conquered: you identify the summit, and you crawl your way toward it.

In contrast, he presents a vision for a Second Mountain, a second way to journey through life. This mountain can’t be climbed the way we might the first. He explains, “You are conquered by your second mountain. You surrender to some summons, and you do everything necessary to answer the call and address [what’s] in front of you … on the second mountain you tend to be relational, intimate, and relentless.”

At TCA, we are a community of adults seeking to climb a Second Mountain. We have been conquered by the weight of Deuteronomy 6:5-7 and its call to parents: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

TCA’s goal is to partner with parents in living out Deuteronomy 6. On this educational journey we want to be, as Brooks says, “relational, intimate, and relentless” in seeking God’s glory as we teach our children.

Here are a few ways the TCA community is going on a “second mountain journey” during the next school year.

As a classical school, we are surpassing the First Mountain of Merit, and scaling the Second Mountain of Virtue.

Children have eternal souls. We don’t have time to be concerned with rankings and the percentage points between As and Bs.

Instead, let’s see each other and see each student’s unique soul. Let’s ask questions of our students’ hearts even as we complete academic tasks. Let’s talk to each other about faithfulness, diligence, honestly, patience, kindness, and self-control, forgiving one another and encouraging one another in the Holy Spirit.

If virtue is present and flourishing, merit will come. But if we ignore the heart, virtue will be lost.

As a Christian school, we are surpassing the First Mountain of Selfishness, and climbing the Second Mountain of Sacrifice.

The First Mountain climb pursues a life of ease and comfort. But adults at TCA are signing up to selflessly give their days away as they teach their children character and academics. This kind of selflessness, Brooks says, is where virtue is born: “Good character is a by-product of giving yourself away.”

This is what Jesus did: it’s sacrificing for others.

And as we climb the second mountain, our children are also learning to give themselves away to good work and to sacrifice for each other. Through our example and our guidance, through God’s grace, they’re learning selflessness.

Finally, as a Collaborative School, we are leaving the First Mountain of Individuality for the Second Mountain of Relationship and Community.

David Brooks says this: “The rampant individualism of our current culture is a catastrophe … living a good life requires … the relational mindset of the second mountain.”

At TCA, we seek to live in community that is enriching and satisfying. Where isolation and the ensuing despair is normal for children today, we pray TCA is a place where adults and students operate as a gracious team, so students can learn and live without fear.

As we join the Holy Spirit in shaping souls this next year - our own and our students’ - we are doing eternal work. And we can’t do that alone. We need each other.

And so we pray that God makes TCA into a team of Holy Spirit empowered people, leaving behind ego and selfishness to make God’s name great. And we pray that the students and adults at TCA would become increasingly more like Christ on our Second Mountain Journey.