It’s approaching fast! We’ll soon be sending our kids and grandkids back to school! But where is our emphasis? New classes? School supplies? Clothing? God’s emphasis starts with how we’re preparing our children spiritually. In Deuteronomy 6, God commanded His people to teach His ways to their children. This includes a God focus in the morning, throughout the day and in the evening. Are we approaching God’s mandate strategically and intentionally in our child’s education and life the best we can be?
Consider starting each morning with your kids in prayer, committing to Christ-like decisions and behaviors. Next, encourage this daily. Uplifting lunchbox notes or text messages may be just what’s needed to overcome anxiety or temptation. Finally, end each day thanking God for His protection and wisdom, then close with Scripture and prayer. Character is not formed in a day; it’s formed day by day to train up a godly next generation.
Likewise, a new school year should motivate us to more intentionally develop our children’s complete God-centered education. Even our Lord Jesus grew in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man. So, how can we encourage our children as they enter a new school year? Scripture describes God’s design for parents and children as a loving relationship. Joseph and Mary invested in the life of Jesus, providing both His physical and learning needs. Helping our children with an assignment communicates the importance of them and their education. Turning off the television, computers and cell phones to read together increases knowledge as well the relationship with our children. Just talking with your son or daughter about their day as you share a meal can open conversations to encourage learning in ways often overlooked. Other people and resources can help too, but nothing compares to a loving parent committed to the whole education of their child.
This Christian parental involvement is critical, because sadly, according to a 2018 Barna and Impact 360 Institute Research study, 96% of Generation Z have a failed education if we consider that just 4% hold a biblical worldview. But this tragic fact can change if parents live biblically. First, remember that making disciples starts in the home. Second, purposely address the difficult issues of our culture, whether these involve sex, gender or evolution. God’s Word addresses these matters, and so can parents. Third, make worldview development a daily effort. Living obediently, reading your Bible and praying, loving your spouse and faithfully attending church sets a compelling example for children.
When it comes to a biblical worldview, more is “caught” than “taught.” Allowing children to see an obedient walk with God in our lives will confirm that God is real, personal, just and loving. It’s the hope and confidence the next generation needs.
But with cultural challenges evident, can children really spiritually succeed in school? The apostle Paul addressed this challenge to young Timothy when he wrote in 1 Timothy 4:12: “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” The greatest test of our children’s faith will be to live it out at school. When Paul taught Timothy to set an example through his speech and actions, he knew the young man’s life would impact others.
Whether to a classmate or teacher, the words our children use display their attitudes. Their actions come next. Together, their speech and actions determine their example, and that example can be powerful. Parents and grandparents, our words and choices set a powerful example to the kids we love. So let’s make a renewed effort to set the highest possible standard for our words and actions. In turn, our children will be encouraged to do the same.
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Finally, let’s remember the most important things to send with our children to school. How many times have we reminded, “Don’t forget your lunch!” as kids head out the door? And I wonder how many children have heard it over the years. As parents, we work hard to make sure our children have everything they need to succeed in school. This includes their lunch as well as homework, but what do our children need to succeed spiritually? If we’re intentional in living a biblical worldview, making disciples, speaking of God when they get up, through the day and at the end of the day, children will be prepared to make the choices that result in spiritual success.
Training up a child in the way they should go is God’s plan. Praying faithfully for them, as James 5:16 reminds us, is also part of God’s plan and more important than we may ever understand. Prayer is the glue that cements biblical training, a godly example and a biblical worldview into place.
The Hon. Sam Rohrer is president of the American Pastors Network, a national network of pastors with constitutional and biblical teachings that discusses today’s pressing issues. He was a Pennsylvania lawmaker for 18 years and hosts the daily “Stand in the Gap Today” national radio program on more than 400 stations and Host of the “Stand in the Gap” national television program.