Higher Calling: Why We Do Adventist Education

By Brian Kittleson -  May 1, 2024


Higher Calling: Why We Do Adventist Education 

Seventh-day Adventist education is rooted in preparing students for service in this world and the world to come. 


In the heart of every parent and educator lies a deep-seated desire to see the children entrusted to their care grow into individuals of character, purpose, and service—a desire that finds its fulfillment in the mission and vision of Adventist education. Though at times parents and educators perceive that they are at odds in their goals, the gap in outcomes is rarely as wide as sometimes felt.

Seventh-day Adventist education is rooted in preparing students for service in this world and the world to come. From its inception, Adventist education has been guided by a mission and vision that seeks to nurture the whole person—mind, body, and spirit—in a Christ-centered environment.

However, it is possible that we have lost sight of the foundational reason for Adventist education, which is: “It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come.” (Education, p. 13.1). As parents, we want our children to have a better life than we had. We can feel uncomfortable focusing on the service aspect of education. It's okay if my child rakes a few lawns and writes some beautiful notes to be delivered to the nursing home. But deep inside my soul, I want them to be the top engineer, doctor, nurse, attorney, or mechanic—not to serve, but to have a good income and live a comfortable life. Yes, I want them to use their income wisely and make regular donations to the local Adventist church, but I really want them to be successful here on earth and live the “American dream.”

As teachers, we have accepted this parental pressure because our schools need a level of enrollment to remain viable. Unlike a church, our schools are an exchange of tuition dollars for an education. The pressure to graduate students that compete with the rest of the world is very high. With this subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle pressure, we have collectively lost sight of the original purpose of Adventist education, which is the joy of service in this world and the world to come.

This is the reason that self-supporting schools have started. They begin with a local community desiring to really focus on the original purpose of Adventist Education. They, too, struggle financially because of limited resources and limited enrollment. The Adventist education system is divided, and we know from Scripture that “a house divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25).

The call to all who read this article is that we stop conforming to the desire for our children to have successful careers with good pay, and fully engage our children in the idea of serving mankind. When we enroll our students in the local Adventist school, we will know that the teacher is fully engaged in that same purpose. The parent and teacher are then united in a common goal. When we are united, then the Holy Spirit is poured out in a latter rain that will provide the power to “such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Savior might be carried to the whole world!”[1]

Call to Action

I invite you to recommit to the original purpose of Adventist education. Let us prioritize the joy of service in this world and the world to come, preparing our children not just for successful careers but for lives dedicated to serving humanity and sharing the message of Christ's love. Enroll your children in local Adventist schools and support them as they embark on this journey of faith and service. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of our children, the world around us and the world to come.

[1] Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1903), p. 271.