A Common Good for the Vulnerable: Personal Reflection & Application

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A common good that does no good for the vulnerable is neither common, nor good.

In the weeks since Common Good RVA’s 2018 conference, A Common Good for the Vulnerable, I’ve been thinking about the common good—about authority and vulnerability; about flourishing, suffering, withdrawing and exploiting; about meaningful (or meaningless) risks.

Speakers Andy Crouch, Rev. Don Coleman, and Carrie Rose Pace expertly navigated us through these ideas as we sought a deeper understanding of ways that the Lord is leading each of us to join with him to bring about more and more of His flourishing in Richmond.  

This conference came at an interesting time for my family as my wife and I are in the middle of figuring out schooling for our oldest child who will be starting kindergarten next year. What would flourishing look like for us as we make this decision? What is the Lord calling our family to? Should we enroll her in Richmond Public Schools? Homeschool? Private school? I’d love to tell you that we’ve figured it out, or there is one right way to get to the upper right quadrant of the matrix pictured below that was presented by Andy Crouch during the conference. But the truth is, that is a choice every family will have to make on their own, and flourishing will look different in different circumstances. There are also many different types of flourishing to consider- your child’s education, the community of learning, the broader community.

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One thing that we have realized is that we must be intentional. No matter what we end up deciding for our family, it must be with purpose and it must be with a good understanding of how it impacts us and our community—where it move us on the matrix above. Choosing public schools would be a risk for us, but by pressing into that risk and pouring ourselves into that community, it could be a meaningful risk and move both us and the community we are a part of more toward that top right quadrant. Homeschooling or private school could also be a risk for us because of how it could isolate our family from those more vulnerable, or with less authority or agency in our community, not to mention the financial risk of the cost burden of that option. Whatever we choose, we must be aware of how it impacts our authority and vulnerability. We must be willing to take additional steps to move more towards flourishing for both us and the community.

The conference ended with a Q&A session with some wonderful thoughts for how to apply what we learned. I’ll leave you with two thoughts that were particularly meaningful for me:

  • What meaningful risks might I encounter today? Who might I see who is vulnerable that I might give authority to? Who might I see with authority who needs vulnerability?
  • God is at work! Listen and go. Divert your path, get out of your bubble. Go left instead of right. Be open.

To learn more about the speakers, listen to the full conference audio, or keep up to date with ongoing Common Good events visit their website at commongoodrva.com