(See also: Forgiveness, Autism, Disability Purposes, DisabilityResources, Bullying, Personal Counseling, Family Counseling, Suicide Hope)
Who? What? When? Why? Where?
Purposeful not Passive
I originally wrote this brief article of encouragement back during the early years of my three decades as a family counselor (with my wife Linda's invaluable input). Why? Because we've known so many good families struggling with their children: socially, academically, and spiritually. No family is exempt from such difficulties, because none can escape the negative influences that saturate the modern world. Sadly, the culture has promoted the psychobabble pseudoscience of passive, permissive parenting, which has produced generations of self-focused, immature adults who are stuck in perpetual adolescence. Wost of all, many of them have been elected into government positions of leadership and are now running our country. Unfortunately, they seem to be running it into the ground.
Linda and I are grateful to God that all of our six adult children are best friends with us and with each other. The only thing more valuable and rewarding for parents is for all of their children to be faithful followers of the Good Shepherd Creator, CHRIST (3 John 1:4). All of our kids as children seemed to understand the gospel and accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord. However, later as adults some of them struggled with doubts. This was especially true during their college and young adulthood years, when they were surrounded by anti-Christian propaganda. Plus, many of their non-Christian friends seemed to be just as "good" and their lives just as fulfilling as "Christians" in churches - sometimes even better. This led to understandable disillusionment, confusion, and for periods of time rejection of Christ's Way. With time, they are learning that it's always a dangerous deception to judge Christ and His Way on the basis of us hypocritical Christians. (see HYPOCRITES)
Like all parents, we could write volumes about our own mistakes as we sought to protect, raise, and train our "little lambs". The good news is that God's counsel in His Word is profoundly practical and has been effective. So our burden is to encourage and equip parents who are struggling, especially those who are losing the hearts of their children. God's promise, and in fact His command for parents, is that they can and must build a close relationship of love, trust, respect, and obedience with their children while they live under their roof.
No parenting program or plan can guarantee that your kids will grow up to be faithful Christians or even good members of society. Proverbs 14:6 is not a magical guarantee, but a practical principle that good habits trainned in childhood are deeply engrained. Remember that even God's created "children", the top Angel - Lucifer, and the first humans Adam & Eve, rebelled and selfishly sought their own desires instead of God's goodness and one anothers real needs. The ultimate character of each child is their own personal choice (Ezekiel 18). You as parents are not responsible for what your adult children do once they are on their own. Unless you support and enable irresponsible adult children. By God's grace and practical biblical counsel, you can become able to equip, encourage, and enforce submissive respect and responsible behavior as your children grow up.
Years ago in order to help my counselees remember core Christian concepts for leading their children, I made up an acronym "L.E.A.D.". Maybe it will be helpful to you:
L.E.A.D. = Love, Equip, Accountability, Discipline.
(see Matthew 20:20 and following). Role, rank, and responsibility are essential in all relationships. When a Christian is in a position of authority, he or she is to LEAD as Christ, not the way of the world. If you love and equip, but do not exercise accountability and discipline, then your leadership is unbiblical and will fail to honor God, benefit others, and bring you joy. Similarly, if you over-focus on accountability and discipline, yet neglect loving and equipping, then your leadership will fail just the same. Please do not fall for the modern myth of mutual submission (see Dr. Wayne Grudem's chapter, THE MYTH OF MUTUAL SUBMISSION, in the online book in this link. p 221). A parent for example is to be loving and kind, but never submit to the children. Even Jesus submitted to human authorities (including His mother), because the purpose of His first coming into the world was not yet as the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. The box below an expansion of the L.E.A.D. principles.
© L.E.A.D. toward restoration & maturity in Christ, for God's glory, when you are in authority:
© F.O.L.L.O.W. your leaders, in order to reveal Christ's character, when you are under authority:
Home-school? Private or Public?
Everyone in one way or another educates their children. Some of it takes place at home and some in schools. Some is academic and some is spiritual. Parents provide help with homework given to their child by a public or private school teacher, along with spiritual training through family discipleship. Others have chosen to expand the academic training at home so that it becomes the primary source of education for their children. The reasons vary for the educational choices of different parents, from a desire for increased academic excellence to a desire to ensure the social and spiritual character of their little ones. But sadly, many parents have not carefully and prayerfully examined sufficient evidence in order to make their decisions. The result is that some homes, in their efforts to do good, fail to provide what is best for their children.
For example, some parents of public and private school children do nothing more than drop their kids off at school and expect the teachers to do it all. They don't help with homework, and they don't do anything to control what kind of friends become the primary socializing environment for their children. On the other extreme are a few home schooling parents, who so over isolate their children, that both academics and socialization are hindered. Balance is the key principle.
"Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits."
I Corinthians 15:33
"The righteous should chose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray."
"He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed."
So why do we encourage all parents
to get involved in their child's education?
The primary answer is simple:
Ever notice that when one person yawns,
every else is also tempted to yawn?
We were designed to be socially contagious for learning.
My six children are all grown now. We home schooled them for the first decade and then transferred them to Northlake Christian School where I began teaching Biology and Life Science in 2003. Both homeschooling and NCS were rewarding experiences for all of us. As they grew through the terrific two's and teens, my wife Linda and I tried to socialize them toward the image and character of God the Father, the image of His Son Jesus Christ (John 14; Rom 8:28-29; Eph 6:1-4). Sure, we wanted our children to have an awareness of the ways of the world, but we did not want to allow them to absorb through social osmosis the rebellious character of youth sub-cultures that now dominate our society.
In my ministry as a Biblical family counselor for nearly 30 years, I've seen an increasing percentage of "Christian" children (even pastors' kids) who picked up the world's selfish, disrespectful, even violent patterns of attitude and action. They roll their eyes and challenge authorities, without even knowing how to make a respectful appeal. By the time they get their first job, they're virtually guaranteed to get fired, or at least fail to get promoted. Their mistaken goal in life is personal happiness, more than personal holiness for God's glory and the blessing of others (Luke 9:23-26). These symptoms, which mirror those of the society at large, manifest in direct proportion to the amount of time the children spend in what Luther called institutions "in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God". Without the Word (counsel) of God, how can any child develop the self-giving character of Christ. Therefore, to the degree that your child is influenced by selfish and rebellious influences, to that same degree you as parents must actively provide a counter influence. Passive parenting will not work.
Academic excellence is the secondary reason why parents' should be actively involved in their children's education. Not everyone can or even should home school. Christian private schools can be excellent alternatives, if the funds are available Unfortunately, private schools do not have the massive influx of government funds that public schools receive. So they must charge fees to cover expenses.
Home schooling has many benefits. It allowed Linda and I to adapt curriculum to the unique needs and abilities of each of our six children, according to his or her own pace. Even though they each had their own friends from church, the neighborhood, and home school associations, each one was very close to us and very close to each other. Sibling rivalry was very rare and now never happens. They enjoyed most of their home schooling experience, and none of them were "itching" to enter a public or private school system. .
We realize that many parents (especially single parents) cannot home educate, and some married couples have decided that home schooling is not best for them. But remember, that simply means they won't be the primary source for their children's academic education. They can and must provide a significant amount of personal involvement to protect against the many destructive forms of socialization, which if left unchecked, can end up saturating any child's environment and heart.
Remember how powerfully contagious even a simple yawn can be in a group. One person yawns and it spreads unconsciously to almost everyone else. As the nightly news regularly reminds us, public and private school teachers cannot sufficiently replace passive parents. Social, spiritual, relational osmosis is inescapable. Therefore, you must be the active, loving manager of the influences that surround your own little lambs. You are their shepherd and the sheepdog to guard them from predatory people and principles that seek to destroy their hearts, minds, and souls. That is our primary responsibility as parents, and with God's biblical counsel you we change what seems to be a burden into a wonderful blessing. When that happens, others will see the fruit produced and be drawn to join the Father's family as well. Your family can be the most effective evangelistic tract you could ever share.
Did you know that the majority of Christian children attend public schools? Many of them are from homes (especially minority single-mothers), that cannot afford private school, and do not have the time to home school. Therefore, the public school system provides an important and necessary service for the majority (including Christian families). Yes, I know that the government system seems fatally flawed, but please think prayerfully about the fact that for most such families - there is no alternative available.
Please ask yourself a question. Who will be the teachers of Christian kids in the public schools, if Christian men and women don't step forward and serve in this vital role? A lot of Christians complain about the problems in public schools (and there are many serious problems), but few Christians are willing to roll up their sleeves and reach out personally and physically to these children in need. After decades as a family counselor, I decided to teach in the New Orleans inner city public schools. But then a position was offered at NCS that would allow me to be with my own children every day. Each one graduated from NCS, and I admit to being spoiled by my many years teaching at NCS. The freedom to share the full truth of our Good Shepherd's creation in my classes has been a privilege and joy.
In fact, the bias against a Christian worldview continues to increase in the government educational system, so the doors Christian public school teachers may soon close. This is especially likely for Christian teachers of biology/"intelligent design". In fact, the more I examine the legal precedents accumulating around the country, it seems that a Christian high school may be the only place that I could teach secondary biology, with a free conscience. However, for now, high school subjects, as well as the elementary grades, are still wonderful opportunities to serve children and families in the government system.
Why is it considered a "wonderful thing" for American Christians to become missionaries, often teaching English and other subjects in the government schools of Russia, China, Africa, or Muslim nations, yet churches ignore the equally desperate needs in the American educational system?
Many children, who need encouragement and counseling the most, are often the ones whose families cannot afford it. Many others have parents who, for various reasons, will not admit their need and reach out for help to any counselor, not even to counselors like us who don’t charge demanded fees for God’s profoundly simple, relationship principles. So as you know, it is often a teacher, rather than a counselor, who is there to reach the hurting hearts of such children, while still respecting the values and beliefs of their parents. I remember the powerfully positive impact a few of my teachers were able to have on me, as a rebellious youth, helping to redirect my future - and literally save my life.
In every nation, throughout history, minority families often end up oppressed, even unintentionally by the naturally selfish, sin nature of the majority. (Please see the article, "My Black Grandfather") Too often, Christians in the majority fail to follow our Lord Jesus, in His self-sacrificial search for the lost and lonely among the oppressed. Even worse is the fact that many white Christians (pink or tan - all people are the same pigment: melanin), who are "politically" conservative like me, fail to recognize and admit that the evil of prejudice is still a terrible reality in America. So the hurt and resentment sometimes grows so deep, that those in the minority won’t trust people from majority churches. The result is segregation among Christian congregations, which is a visible dishonor to our one Father. To bridge that gap, sometimes it’s necessary to step out of the "holy huddle" and work alongside those in the world system, who need our Father’s love the most. There is no better role to achieve this goal than teaching.
Over the years a number of friends were aware that I’d received job offers to move and serve in various "professional" ministry positions (with men that I respect). Many of these friends have asked why I turned down those offers. Please understand that I believe such work can be good, Christ-honoring, and productive, but not necessarily for me or my family - given our unique circumstances (medical needs, etc). In addition, some of the positions required administrative abilities that I do not have, and others would require me to compromise significant personal beliefs or practices. Actually, my "pastoral" gifts are more in the area of teaching and crisis counseling - sort of a "sheep-dog" coming along side those who are in trouble - rather than the CEO Shepherd of a large flock.
Teachers have the privilege of helping encourage academic excellence and mature character development for children whose circumstances have distorted their perception of reality (of God, themselves, others, relationships, and what it means to be successful). Even though there are already many caring and diligent teachers in the system, it is also apparent that many more are needed, especially men. Remember, Psalm 68:4-6. God desires us to serve as fathers and grandfathers to the fatherless. Serving as a teacher could provide an opportunity to positively influence the lives of lost and lonely children, that you could not reach otherwise.
In addition to needing practical principles of character development and skills for thinking with analytical logic, children especially need an accurate worldview on which to build a strong future home and nation. Social actions and reactions come from beliefs. Evidence indicates that the increasing selfishness, rebellion, and violence in schools and society in general is merely the rotten fruit growing up from the foundational root of a worldview based upon "Survival of the Cruelest (Coolest)".
Being a former zookeeper (carnivores: lions, tigers, and bears) and an evolutionary ethologist (animal behaviorist) makes this concern all the more personal. No, I don't believe that "public" schools should teach biblical creation, nor should they teach Islamic or Hindu creation. Religious positions should never be promoted by "public" schools, yet every educational institution should teach the full spectrum of scientific evidence, including that which contradicts current theories of vertical evolution (Neo-Darwinian Evolution, Punctuated Equilibrium, Panspermia, etc.). For more details, you can review GSI summary articles, seminars, and audios on creation, but I especially encourage you to examine the thousands of resources available through scientists and theologians associated with or recommended by the organizations listed below.
All people have the right to know about the growing movement among scientists (even non-theistic) scientists, who are becoming convinced by the evidence of genetics, information science, etc., that "Intelligent Design" is a valid, evidential theory challenging the current theories of evolution. Dr. Lee Spetner, for example, is one of many non-Christian scientists of international respect at the forefront of this emerging scientific reformation. Science should never become dogma, but rather grow as a pursuit toward the improvement of our knowledge of the physical realm, through honest, empirical examination of the evidence.
Jesus sent His disciples out to serve, saying:
"Freely you have received, freely give"
GENERAL EDUCATION RESOURCES
Origins Web Resource Sites
(Creation v. Evolution)
- Science & theology reveal that macroevolution is incompatible with the truth of our Good Shepherd Creator, CHRIST. A "good" God would not and did not design violent selfish competition, pain, fear, suffering, & death. Thousands of articles, DVD's, & books on every related subject you can imagine written by experts in their various subject areas are available through the recommended organizations below:
AiG Answers In Genesis
CMI Creation Ministries International
ICR Institute for Creation Research
Defending Our Father's Honor &