The moment I heard that Dr. Tennies would take time away during the summer and seek the Lord for what scripture should be the theme for the following school year, was the moment I knew that my children must attend Boca Raton Christian School. The very notion that such a great amount of intentionality was set aside for this was inspiring. In a world where some Christian leaders take the easy way out and download sermons from the internet or pick themes randomly like its a game of ‘pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey’, it was both refreshing and inspiring to see a leader prayerfully seek the Lord for a theme. I knew in that moment that my children would be safe under his authority and leadership.
As a parent, I always apprenticed his heart of bringing a Gospel presentation at every main school event. Many times after a production, Dr. Tennies would finish the evening by sharing about Christ. He would do it in his way and in his style. One of my all-time favourite moments was during one Easter event. During this one evening, Dr. Tennies took us all on a wonderful, historical journey of Christ’s resurrection through a collection of artwork. There was one beautiful painting by the Czechoslovakian-born Josef Žáček, called ‘Resurrection’ that Dr. Tennies beautifully expounded upon. His love of Christ and art was clearly displayed for all to see.
Dr. Tennies’ love was always magnified when he was around children. There is a great video on Facebook of him playing jump rope with two young students that fills the viewer’s heart with so much joy every time it is watched. Great leadership is not just leading from the front with directions and guidance, but it is also leading from ‘among’. True Christ-like leadership is to be able to, as the poet Rudyard Kipling says; “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch.” Dr. Tennies regularly exhibited these leadership attributes.
The scripture that is undoubtedly resonating in all of our minds is; “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.” If there were a Servant’s Heart Award to be given, Dr. Tennies would be awarded it every day. How many of us parents watched as he donned his hat, shades and safety vest and stood at his post in the sweltering Florida heat every day to ensure safe passage for our children across the parking lot. Dr. Tennies did jobs that most leaders would think were ‘beneath them’. Just a few days ago at the parent-teacher evening I was standing in the foyer, wondering if I wanted to make the journey to Module 3 as the rain battered down. Then, there came Dr. Tennies holding six or seven umbrellas and started to hand them out to any parent that needed them. Once again, he never had someone else go fetch these umbrellas, but as a true servant to those he was responsible for and to, he exemplified the servant leadership of Christ.
Yesterday as we all stood with Mrs. Tennies in the waiting area at the hospital, there was a wonderful time or prayer and praise. As we stood there holding hands the word ‘Joy’ would not leave me. The ending part of the servant scripture we just mentioned is; “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Dr. Tennies experiences that joy this very moment. This promise of joy is a very present hope for all of us that called Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. One day we all will experience this celestial joy. Likewise, the words of Nehemiah concerning joy bring comfort. Nehemiah said; “The joy of the Lord is your strength”. This same joy that Dr. Tennies is basking in, is the same joy that we pray will now sustain and bless Mrs. Tennies during this time of temporary sorrow. May the joy of our Lord be her strength.
Finally, Dr. Tennies has left us all with a spiritual challenge. Birthed out of the time of prayer over the summer, the verse for this school year is taken from Acts 17:28; “Know God…For in Him we live, move and have our being.” May we all carry these words like a mantle upon our shoulders. Let us all, faculty, parents and students draw closer to God. Let us all know Him more today than we did yesterday. Dr. Tennies has reminded us that there is nothing more important in this life than to truly know our God. He is our everything.
From an eternally grateful parent…