As parents, our day is often fully occupied by the needs of our children. Even when we are not physically with them, their needs and the responsibility for their well-being occupies much of our thoughts.
Did he take his nap today? Why does she keep falling sick? What can I do to make him less strong-willed? How do I get her to stop throwing tantrums? Why can’t he sit still in class? Should I send her for extra classes? Why is he so careless during tests? How can I motivate her to study harder?
We worry because we love our children and want the best for them. But taking care of their practical concerns is not the chief end of parenting. The Bible reminds us with startling clarity what our chief concern as parents should be:
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
(Proverbs 22:6 ESV)
Love the LORD your God will all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today
are to be on your hearts.
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.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and
bind them on your foreheads.
The Bible tells us that our first priority in parenting is to teach our children to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and might. This is of ultimate concern and is not to be overshadowed by other concerns, including academic ones.
But what does teaching our children to love God look like on a daily basis?
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1. Put God First Over Academic Concerns
We can start by putting God first in the use of our time and resources. For example, we could share the gospel story with our children—not just once, but regularly.
Helping them to understand who God is, what He has done for us, the impact of sin, the need for repentance, and the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is one of the most vital spiritual treasures we could leave our children with.
Putting God first means carving out and protecting time and energy to plan and execute spiritual pursuits.
We could pray for and with our children regularly, about every area of life, and teach them godly values, such as through regular family devotions, serving together in church, and by modelling godliness.
Putting God first means proactively carving out and protecting time and energy to plan and execute such spiritual pursuits, and not allowing our children’s daily schedules of school and enrichment activities to overwhelm or overtake our spiritual priorities.
2. Make Time to Worship God
Putting God first also means ensuring that our children have time to remember and worship Him.
Committing time to going to church to learn about God and to fellowship with His people—instead of filling the weekend with extra classes—may seem difficult. But this is part of God’s plan for all of His creation. Spiritual development and refreshment are an essential part of our spiritual journey.
Note, however, that the responsibility for our children’s spiritual development does not lie with the church. Proverbs 22:6 and Deuteronomy 6:5-8 speak directly to parents.
If we don’t teach our kids to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to.
Both passages also reveal what we are to teach our kids. God has given us the duty to instruct our children, first and foremost, about sacred matters, not about their studies. There is a saying, “If we don’t teach our kids to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to.”
In the midst of the academic race, we need to remember that our first priority is a sacred one—teaching our children to know Him and love Him.
Perhaps some of us may feel that being in charge of our children’s spiritual growth is a tall order. But God does not give us this task without equipping us.
As we go to Him to surrender our fears and worries, and as we grow in own walk with Him, God will enable us to carry out our sacred duty of teaching our children to know and love Him each day, even through our mistakes.
3. Do Not Frustrate, But Model God’s Love
Teaching our children to love God also means relating to them in accordance with God’s instruction:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up in the discipline
and instruction of the Lord.
(Ephesians 6:4 ESV)
Paul exhorts us to consider the mental and emotional well-being of our children. Yet it is all too easy to forget this in the academic race.
When we place accelerated expectations on our children or put an unforgiving emphasis on high performance, we may create a sense of rejection in their hearts, which may then lead to bitterness and anger. But God’s Word reminds us: Do not provoke your children to anger. Do not make them bitter. Do not make them feel rejected.
Like God’s love, our love for our children should not be conditional and based on performance.
Instead, we are called to imitate God in the way He loves His children and has mercy on them.
Like God’s love, our love for our children should not be conditional and based on performance. Instead, we are to be “compassionate and gracious . . . slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15).
As recipients of God’s grace, are we showing the same grace to our children in the academic race?
Extracted and adapted from Help! I’m Stressed About My Child’s Education © 2019 Our Daily Bread Ministries