“Mum, why do I need to study? Why must I take exams?”

Although God’s Word does not explicitly command that every child must go to school and take examinations, there are some key messages in the Bible which offer insights into how we can provide our children with the correct motivation for their educational endeavours and offer positive ways to manage the demands of school.

Consider what God’s Word might say about the subject of studies, exams, and results:

 

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1. Learning Is an Act of Worship

Let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance . . .
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
—Proverbs 1:5, 7

Listening to the instruction of the wise is an act of obedience to God. As we learn more about God’s amazing creation through the various subjects and fields of learning, the more we will be in awe of Him, and the more we will understand “God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20). Not only are we worshipping Him through learning, the knowledge we gain can also fuel our worship of Him.

When we study the faraway stars and planets, for example, we not only become aware of His power and strength in creating the heavens, but also realise how God makes the sun shine and sends the rain as a sign of His provision and grace for humankind (Isaiah 40:26, Matthew 5:45).

Let us encourage our children to look for and appreciate God’s fingerprints in all that they are learning about, and let that lead them to grow in their awe and worship of Him.

When we examine how a foetus is fully formed in the womb—complete with trachea and oesophagus even though there is no need to breathe or eat yet—we understand more intimately that God knits us together in the womb, and that we are His handiwork, equipped to do the work that He has prepared in advance for us to do (Psalm 139:13, Ephesians 2:10).

And when we zoom in to analyse how the cells in every living organism or the atomic particles that make up all matter are ordered and organised, we will find that nothing happens by chance, but that the Master Designer put everything in place according to His plan (John 1:3).

Let us encourage our children to look for and appreciate God’s fingerprints in all that they are learning about, and let that lead them to grow in their awe and worship of Him.

2. Education Empowers Us in Stewardship

God blessed them and said to them,
“Be fruitful and increase in number;
fill the earth and subdue it.
Rule over the fish in the sea
and the birds in the sky
and over every living creature
that moves on the ground.”

—Genesis 1:28

Through being educated in the various fields of study, we acquire the specific skills and knowledge required to fulfil God’s command for us to have dominion over the earth. Whether it is medicine, finance, science and technology, or humanities and the arts, they all enable us to care for nature and contribute to human flourishing.

From ancient inventions that we take for granted—like the bowl and the wheel—to more recent ones like the smartphone and solar power, innovations have not only made life easier for people, but also enabled us to take better care of the environment.

Regardless of the subjects that our children are specialising in, we can help them see how the knowledge and skills they obtain can be used to steward creation just as God has commanded.

Research in the humanities—such as history, anthropology, and philosophy—have led us to delve deeper in our understanding of different people groups and cultures, and see more clearly the need to love and care for all peoples as well as for nature.

Subjects like economics and finance allow us to better manage and utilise the resources that God has given to us in order to ensure that His creation is well provided for.

Regardless of the subjects that our children are specialising in, we can help them see how the knowledge and skills they obtain can be used to steward creation just as God has commanded.

3. Studies Help Us Discover and Develop Our Talents

Each of you should use whatever gift
you have received to serve others,
as faithful stewards of God’s grace
in its various forms.
—1 Peter 4:10

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30), we are warned not to bury our talents, but to use them for His work. Hence, we must help our children to discover their unique God-given talents, and support them in developing and growing these talents, so that they can reap eternal “profits” by doing what He calls them to do.

This idea is reflected in the two Latin roots of the word “education”—educare, which means “to train, to nurture”; and educere, meaning “to draw out”. Ultimately, the aim of education is to train and nurture our children so as to draw out their potential. Since every child is uniquely made by God, he or she would have a distinct set of talents and gifts.

Some of these talents, however, may not fit the moulds defined by society or the education system.

Therefore, we have to take care that we do not let test and exam results define our children’s identity. Academic achievements may help us to discover our children’s talents and calling by revealing where their strengths lie, but we must also encourage our children to explore the multifarious competencies that are not taught in school, so as to unearth their true potential.

We have to take care that we do not let test and exam results define our children’s identity.

For example, if our children have a flair and interest in the arts, we can inspire them to acquire such artistic skills and unleash their creativity. Just like how His Creation “declare[s] the glory of God” and “proclaim[s] the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1), our artistic creations can reveal Him to the world.

In fact, this is a lifelong journey of discovery: God will certainly lead our children to experience and learn more about themselves as they walk through life with Him. If we can cultivate a joy and love of learning in them from young, they will keep growing in the areas that God reveals to them.

4. Studying is a Display of Servanthood

Whatever you do,
work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord,
not for human masters.
—Colossians 3:23

Many students probably find it hard to keep their love of learning alive when they face never-ending deadlines and increasing workloads. This is where we parents can cheer them on, by reminding them that we are not serving human masters but God himself. We can encourage them not to see their work as a burden, but as an act (of giving their best in all that they do) that pleases God and is a form of worship to Him.

We can encourage them not to see their work as a burden, but as an act (of giving their best in all that they do) that pleases God and is a form of worship to Him.

When they show a spirit of excellence and attain good results, we can remind them to give glory to God rather than boast or become prideful (Proverbs 11:2). More importantly, let us always celebrate the effort that they have put in, instead of focusing on their results.

And even if they fail, let us remember that God is not a harsh taskmaster. He is our Good Shepherd who heals the brokenhearted and binds up our wounds (Psalm 147:3). He will also strengthen and help us to cross every hurdle (Isaiah 41:10).

5. Studying Is About Fulfilling God’s Mission

Go and make disciples of all nations,
baptising them in the name
of the Father and
of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit.
—Matthew 28:19

At the same time that education is helping to equip our children for God’s destiny and calling for their lives, they can obey His Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) while they are studying. That would mean learning to love their schoolmates and teachers, and sharing about their faith as and when opportunities arise.

Fulfilling His commandment in Matthew 22:39 to “love your neighbour as yourself” should happen now, wherever God has placed us. Serving others and caring for the needy should come naturally to God’s children who are blessed to be a blessing.

Practical Tips and Key Reminders

We can facilitate our children’s schooling years by emphasising how education is the means for them to grow in their worship of and service to God. As they encounter Him through the highs and lows, they will also grow in their love for Him and for people. And all this would give them purpose to grow in their areas of talent, and to pursue God’s calling for their lives.

We can facilitate our children’s schooling years by emphasising how education is the means for them to grow in their worship of and service to God.

Here are more tips to help reinforce these key messages:

  • Help our children focus on building relationships with family, friends, and most importantly, God.
  • Pray for a vision for each child and support them in fulfilling their calling.
  • Let God lead them in the choices they make, for example in the subjects or course to take.
  • Do not compare. Each child is unique and has distinct talents and strengths.
  • Every child has their own journey and timeline.
  • Call upon the Lord in times of trouble and encourage our children to do so too!
  • Ensure they have sufficient time for rest and relaxation. Recognise the importance of sleep.
  • Allow them time to do the things that fill their tank.
  • Have fun together!
  • Enjoy learning with them.
  • Don’t focus on the results, but celebrate effort.
  • It’s okay to fail. Learn from it and try again.
  • Love them unconditionally.

 

Anne Soh has three children aged 16, 20 and 22, and is a missionary with WEC International (Singapore). Since leaving her job as a curriculum specialist in the Ministry of Education to be a stay at home mum, she has continued teaching children and youth in various churches for some 20 years. Anne is also the Regional Director of Generations of Virtue, a ministry that aims to equip families to transform culture. She has been serving in the D6 Family Conference organising committee since November 2017 and helps to facilitate breakout sessions on various topics together with her husband, Job Tan.
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