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Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

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Rome wasn’t built in a day, the saying goes.

The wonder and glory of Rome began with one hero, according to Vergil’s Aeneid. But it definitely began with one group of people living near Rome’s seven hills. Over the course of millennia, it grew into a metropolis, the center of an empire that encompassed the known world.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

The saying originated not in Rome but in medeival France. But it has passed from a casual saying to a proverbial, and it generally means—what? Great works take time.
And even plastic models of Rome can’t be built in a day.

It might seem a grand comparison—maybe even too grand. But almost ten years ago, Dominion had 27 students. Today, we have 5 times that number.

Almost ten years ago, Dominion had an administrative assistant and 6 faculty. Today, we have 20 faculty, three administrators, and 6 support staff.

Almost ten years ago, Dominion met in a few classrooms here at Ivy Creek. Now, we use nearly every classroom in this building, and we have a building of our own in Alfred Hall.

Now we look ahead to the possibility of building a generational school, a school that will continue to educate our grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It seems like a wild idea, but that’s what has driven our thinking beyond the typical 3- and 5- and 10-year plan. We have broadened our scope to imagine a school that stands for a thousand years.

Ambitious? Certainly. But after all, our learning community is pursuing truth in the company of the ages, of great writers, living and dead; we use methods tested and perfected over millennia to teach our students to think well about great ideas; and we are seeking wisdom and virtue, ultimately in the one person who embodies them both perfectly: Jesus Christ.

In that context, our thousand-year goal might not be ambitious enough. We seek to build a “thousand-year school,” but we’re really building students who will live forever. A goal like that requires significant work, so I like this amended version of the proverb with which I began: Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.

I’d be remiss not to end with how the Bible views our labor, cautioning us not to put too much trust in what we can do in our own strength. The Psalmist writes that “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). We must seek the Lord’s face, His glory, above all. Not that we are excused from working to see His kingdom’s boundaries expanded, to see the gospel pressed into all the corners of our world, to see God’s shalom transforming individuals and cultures. No, we are encouraged to work, to keep putting down another layer of bricks—another day, another week, another year of work. But in light of Scripture, we do it with the right perspective, that the work we do will be in vain if we do it for our own glory and not for the glory and honor of Christ.

As we enter our 10th year, and the third year of our School of Rhetoric, we do so holding these truths in tension. And we do it with a mason’s trowel in hand.

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