Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one, Love the Lord your God with al your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon 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 get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. 

-Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Great verses!  I usually say that about verses that convict me.  Especially verses that highlight my responsibility as a parent.  How about you?  Do you ever question how you’re doing as a parent?  I do.  There are times when I see areas in our family life that need to change: less screen time, more time around the dinner table, more family devotions and prayer, the list goes on.  Unfortunately for me, seeing the problem is so much easier than correcting it.  I’ve noticed this trend with other Christian families as well.  In fact sometimes we get together and have “trouble is…” conversations that make us feel better and don’t require much accountability.    It’s about that time that I find myself confronted with a passage of scripture, such as the one above, which brings conviction, repentance, and action.  The good news is that changes in our family life can be adjusted rather quickly with positive changes noticeable in a short period time.  However, when we fail to recognize these problems in the education and training of our kids it can leave harmful effects that can take years to undo.

I was trying to communicate this idea during our fall parent meetings.  Being a boarding school many of the orientation meetings are held in the fall when students arrive early for sports camp.  I posed the following scenario: 

Let's say that your son/daughter is clearly the best athlete on their team.  Regardless of any efforts by their teammates, no one comes close to them in skill or effort during their games.  One evening your son/daughter approaches you, and asks you if you would allow them to forgo practice for the rest of the season.   Their reason is practice doesn't really help them. They are skilled at everything.  They’re not challenged.  They are tired of it and have other things they would like to do with their time.  They tell you they enjoy the contests and feel great about the accolades they receive from friends and the community.  Adding to this you know your son/daughter is a “good kid” and has a 3.5 GPA.  Would you ask the coach to allow them to forgo practice for the remainder of the season?

I have yet to have anyone say they would allow their son/daughter to sit out of practice.  On each occasion the responses were quick and unprompted as to why they would never do such a thing.  “It sets a terrible example for the team.” “It would instill laziness.” “They wouldn’t learn to persevere.” These are some of the comments that immediately rise from the audience.  Others speak of the great athletes who by their presence on a team elevated the play of everyone around them, pointing out the importance passing on practice habits to lesser skilled teammates.  I’m sure you could add more to the list but here’s the point.  Why don’t we think like that when it comes to spiritual training or academics?  You know as well as I do that some of us in the Christian church have allowed our kids to “sit out” of practice or do the very minimum when it comes to spiritual training.  The bare minimum gets by spiritually or even academically when we would never tolerate it in athletics.  Some of us fear that by requiring study, engagement, and activity in the faith that we will some how cause our students to be repulsed by it.   Interestingly this seems to be one of the few areas where we operate this way.  Most of us claim it is the most important aspect of life.  The message we send is coming through loud and clear to our kids.

How is it going for you?  Let’s commit together to double our efforts to raise Godly kids in such a way as to honor the priorities laid before us in Deuteronomy.

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