by David Seibel, Head of School
This post is the fourteenth in Project Legacy, a series of interviews that aim to learn from leaders outside of education to influence those inside education. See our most popular posts in Project Legacy on Mayor James Brainard and Northview Pastor Steve Poe.
The year of 2020 has been marked with animosity, tension and hostility. We need more leaders like Indianapolis native Dountonia Batts.
Dountonia Batts: Bridge Builder, Organizer, Strategist
Dountonia Batts is the CEO and principal consultant of Scriptura Strategies, LLC, a nonprofit, campaign, and public policy consulting firm. She has a passion for truth, justice, and equity in housing, education, economic development, and family court reform. She is dedicated to finding servant leaders to influence change in each of these areas.
She has a Juris Doctorate degree from Indiana Tech Law School, a Master of Business Administration degree in Human Resource Management from Indiana Wesleyan University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biblical Counseling from Crossroads Bible College. Here are two big lessons that I learned from Dountonia for students, teachers and parents.
Lesson 1: Adversity is an Advantage
A big part of Dountonia’s story is overcoming abuse in her own family. She said, “The worst thing would be missing the lesson in the affliction.” She developed a passion for justice that has led to a desire to become an attorney to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. She sees it as her responsibility to help others to navigate the cesspool of injustice. She told me, “The Scripture that keeps me nowadays is Proverbs 31:8-9,
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
By turning her own abuse into a passion for advocacy, Dountonia has illustrated an important postures that educators call the Growth Mindset. Psychologist Carol Dweck wrote,
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”
Students can make adversity their ally if their parents sow in them a growth mindset. Writer Jen Hutson captures this well in this article when she highlights a quote from Francis Bacon, “Prosperity doth best discover vice; but adversity doth best discover virtue.” When parents speak about challenge, they ought to do so in a positive light if they are sowing the seeds of the growth mindset in their children.
Redemptive reflection is a great strategy for those influencing children.
Lesson 2: Focus on the Mission
I immediately noticed Dountonia’s sincerity and passion when she spoke. She confirmed this when she quoted one of my heroes, C.T. Studd,
“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”
As an educator and parent in Hamilton County, it becomes super convenient for Christian parents to increase their standard of living but not their standard of giving. I am not just referring to giving money here, but giving your entire life to something bigger than yourself. Dountonia has given her life to being an organizer, bridge builder and strategist— I don’t know many people who hold a law degree, a business degree and a biblical counseling degree. Dountonia told me, “I would be chasing different things if it were not for Crossroads Bible College.”
Parents and educators can pursue many missions as they are investing in the next generation. While many Christian families start out with an aim to make a difference, the demands of raising children shift their focus from eternal concerns to temporal issues. Paying bills, changing diapers, fixing cars, maintaining a home, dealing with ailing parents, and all the daily concerns can crowd out what matters most. The Great Commission, the call to make disciples of our children and teach them obedience to all that Christ has commanded, is infinitely more important than which team your child is on or how many people liked a picture of your family on Facebook.
Jesus Christ accomplished more than any other human in history in 33 years, because his face was set upon Jerusalem and obeying His father’s command. Parents and teachers must remember that they have been sent on a mission.
As we engage in the messy work in investing in children, we must not let adversity create in us a desire for ease and comfort, but rather a hunger for righteousness. The posture of leaders like Dountonia Batts could do the next generation some good!
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