“Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordon River to be baptized by John. After Jesus was baptized, he prayed and the sky opened up. The Holy Spirit came to him as a dove, and a voice came from the sky saying, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your father” (Lost Gospel Q, Q5, 1999, Pp.38).
As a teacher of children at the elementary level, I have always found great pleasure in my mission that God has called me to. I was lucky to have been anointed with oil in this mission of educating children. I take what I do very seriously, thus I follow the example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Likewise, God bestowed upon Jesus his mission upon being baptized. Just as God bestows upon all teachers and ministers to be protectors, role models, educators, even mentors of his children. Interestingly, God also has bestowed these same responsibilities and more upon all parents. It is the seriousness of this topic to which I want to address.
The “mission” of raising children, educating others, and being a worthy example of a life lived with the promises of God is, (if you take it seriously), a vocation according to Apostle Paul.
“4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one spirit just as you were called to one hope when you were called, – 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:1-6, 2002, Pp. 1835, NIV).
As written by Moses we all are charged to the following;
“6:4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give to you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 2002, Pp. 252-253, NIV).
The role as teacher and as a parent I have found at times to be draining, exhausting, sometimes leaves me unfulfilled, and even lonely. This is mainly due to the internal struggles of will-power the children will attempt to use against me in their attempt to get what they want, or to test the boundary-line I have set for them, whether they realize the true forces behind my reactions and linking that to what is happening as a consequence at times is a real struggle. In truth many children I teach come from broken homes, they have no real discipline of their own because the environment they are being raised in, based upon their parents ability, or inability to provide a stable home, one that follows the commandments I have listed above. But if you take the word discipline as what it is supposed to be, then it is nurturing, staunch, filled with wisdom, and exudes love. It builds character and bestows respect. I have always said this to my children that I teach, fully realizing that if I was a public school teacher I would be fired due to unfortunate legalities which are supported by every state in the union;
“I love each and every one of you… I am here for you…I want nothing more than you to succeed. I am like your father, (meaning like God) in that I demand your respect, and in return you shall gain respect a thousand fold, you will gain the knowledge you need to be successful, and you will always have a place that is safe. I promise to listen to you, if only you first speak respectfully. I promise to be fair, if you first always speak the truth. I promise to never lie to you, if you first put forth the effort to find the answers to your questions.” Then I pray with them the Lord’s Prayer.
It is amazing how fast tough kids crumble when they hear that there is someone willing to be there for them, to help them, guide them, to love them. So there is no misunderstanding what so ever what I mean and what is implied by the term “love”. It is always used in the Christian context and is prefaced as the love from God, shown to all people by Jesus Christ. The children understand I am not their biological father, and that I am not God. They look up to me because I hold them accountable. I do not waver or spoil them, but reward them when they do well by giving them the grade they deserve. They earn everything in my classroom and this allows them to feel safe. Everything is said out loud, as I hate secrets. In the totality of my professional career as a teacher, it is the respect the children automatically begin to give that I guard with every fiber of my being. I am like their father as sadly many of them have none.
It is this “love” that which God is demanding from all of use to show one another. With the right kind of discipline children respond positively, ironically so do adults. In fact as an adult we first and for most desire respect from those we deal with, be it from a friend, loved one, neighbor, child, or stranger. Respect comes from the willingness to listen to the other person. This willingness comes from discipline, or more over how you were raised, by the example your parents set. If they showed love towards each other and to all they encountered then the offspring would follow suite. Thus, “love” is the root to all things, and “love” comes from God.
“6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6, 2002, Pp. 989, NIV).
As I did my research for this reflection, I found an awesome manuscript entitled “The Duties of Parents”, originally updated and revised by Tony Capoccia in 1998, based upon the work of J.C. Ryle (1816-1900). In it I found one line I thought was extremely true and is an issue all teachers and parents face today, that which is based on the above scripture;
“Hint #1. If you want to train your children correctly, train them in the way they should go, and not in the way that they want to go” (Ryle, J.C., Capoccia, T., 1998).
I also believe that we love as a direct response to the fact that we care about a specific outcome. We follow the commandments set forth by God, as all the lessons I teach are based upon biblical scripture, dealing with discipline, such as;
“24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him” (Proverbs 14:24, 2002, Pp. 977, NIV).
“18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death” (Proverbs 19:18, 2002, Pp. 985-986, NIV).
“15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15, 2002, Pp. 990, NIV).
“13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. 14 Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death” (Proverbs 23:13-14, 2002, Pp. 991, NIV).
“15 The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother” (Proverbs 29:15, 2002, Pp. 1000, NIV).
“17 Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul” (Proverbs 29:17, 2002, Pp. 1000, NIV).
Note: The over use of the term son, him, or he, is a direct translation from the bible, but should be meant and include the female gender as well. So please insert the words, “our children” and “they” where applicable.
Thus my students inherent response is to respect what I say because I model what I teach to them. I truly care about their future education; one could say I am invested. The children become invested in their own success because they now have a set of guidelines to follow, and they care about what I think of them. Just as all good teachers, ministers, and parents should be invested in upholding the commandments set forth by God, as these words of wisdom produces successful children.
The perfect example of how we all should look at raising children falls back to how God loves and treats us, his children.
“16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, 2002, Pp. 1632, NIV).
To be a good parent, role model, teacher, or guardian is akin to being a good Christian, as our children learn from our example and it is this very reason why God chose Abraham to so bless the world as the father of nations, for God knew that Abraham would follow his commandments. Thus, Abraham serves as an example of parenthood, of wisdom, and of how to follow God.
“15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, ‘I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me” (Genesis 22:15-18, 2002, Pp. 1632, NIV).
We cannot ignore that as parents and teachers we have modern laws which bind and restrict our behavior around children, some of which is needed, some we can do without. It is the manner of in which we interpret the current laws which decide the fate of our nation, as our children are truly our future. We only have to look at what influences them to see the overall impact. The further away from God our laws become, to less respect our children will show to each other and the world population. The further away from morality the further away they are from a two parent home, a Christian life style, and life filled with God, because everything which fills their hearts is center around their own wants and not on the needs of others. The less we tell our children that we love them, and the less time we spend with them, the more they seek that love and attention from someone else, somewhere else, most likely from those who do not uphold the teachings of God and or are willing to break and defile our children’s innocents . The more we allow the decay of the two parent model, the farther we are from obeying God, the farther we are from raising our child in the ammunition of the Lord. Ironically, the closer they are to becoming lost souls; dead to the world even though they walk, talk, and go about their daily routine, their soul in the eyes of God are dead. The farther they will sink, fall, stumble and search, hoping to find the right answer, to fill that vast emptiness they have inside that which is unquenchable. Sadly they will fall prey to those who will convince them they are like their father too, but in truth they are more like Satan, the great deceiver.
The true test of those who follow God and do for their children as God commands will most certainly fulfill these words of Jesus Christ;
“12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:12-14, 2002, Pp. 1659, NIV).
So what did Jesus do? He loved all the children, even the ones that where hard to love. He loved all of us, just as his father in heaven loves all of us, even the most unlovable, most disgusting, over baring, bossy, impatient, and cantankerous members of the human race, for he found it within his heart to love us all. Therefore, as a parent we start teaching our children with the bible, by reading to them the stories which are filled in morality, truth, and wisdom. We spend time with them, even if that time is short; we make the time to tuck them in, to listen to their fears. Teachers who spend more time with our children than we do, must uphold these same values, and be a positive mentor, through both daily words and actions. Finally by providing each child a safe place in which to fail and learn, knowing they have a steady hand to guide them in the truth of all things in their world, to be like their father who is in heaven.
Challenge question: If we follow God’s commandments as it relates to the raising of children, aren’t we really aspiring to be like God?
If you have been moved by this blog I humbly invite you to leave a message telling me your thoughts and how this reflection has touched you. May peace and love be with you all the days of your life. May God keep you and bless you.
Link to “The Duties of Parents”: http://www.biblebb.com/files/ryle/parentsjc.htm