There is no real excellence in all this world which can be separated from right living. — David Starr Jordan, First President of Stanford University
What is the purpose of man? It is to glorify God in all that we do, all that we say, and all that we are. As parents, God has commanded us to train up our children in the way they should go (Pr. 22:6). He holds us responsible for that training and while academic instruction is included, it is in no way the primary goal of education. The most important objective is to raise men and women with godly character, men and women who glorify God in all that they do, all that they say, and all that they are.
There are many methods of education. One may work well for one student and not another. A parent may find that one student learns math well with Saxon, but another excels with Making Math Meaningful.
In teaching character, every child learns by watching parents. Our children are constantly observing us, affected by our actions and words, and imitating us–even into adulthood. Abused children learn that a parent abuses and may well become abusers themselves. It is a tragic cycle. In a positive way, children of godly parents are watching and imitating godly behavior. Even the world recognizes this cycle. In the country western song Watching You, the son imitates his dad–for good and for bad–and thinks it is all wonderful.
We, the parents, set the example, but must also follow through to ingrain godly character in our children. We want them to speak words of encouragement to others. The question then arises: do we speak words of encouragement? Do we correct ourselves when we fail? Do we correct them when they fail? We want clean language coming from their mouths. Do we correct them when it isn’t? Are there real consequences for failure in this area? It is easy to let poor behavior slide, but we do our children no favors when we do. It is important that we are consistent and persevere in our discipline.
We want our children to treat others with respect. We must exhibit respect to them and to others. Respect takes many forms. It is surely verbal. Do our words and tone show respect to those around us? How do we address our pastor or an elder in the church? How do we require our children to speak to adults? Are they permitted to address adults by their first name or as Mr. or Mrs. …?
Respect goes beyond the verbal. Being late for appointments, school, or meetings shows disrespect for those who have made the effort to be punctual. Tardiness shows disregard for others’ time, telling them that they are not important. Godliness puts other ahead of ourselves. If we are regularly late, we exhibit to our children that it is acceptable to show disrespect to others by not regarding their time as valuable.
In a school situation, teachers and parents may show disrespect to each other and the children–and that creates a worst-case scenario in guiding our children. When a teacher is unprepared for co-op class, it tells parent and student that they are not important. On the other hand, when a teacher gives an assignment and the parent does not see to it that the student completes the work–or tolerates a poor job–it shows disrespect to the teacher and the other students in the class. And, finally, students deserve to have their work graded accordingly. Those who have done well should know that they are succeeding; those who have done poorly should know that they are not. Anything less, degrades the student, the parent, and the teacher.
We should all seek to glorify our Lord, not to denigrate Him, others, or ourselves. We seek to raise Godly men and women who love, serve, and glorify Him. We, as parents and teachers, do that best by being Godly role models to the children around us. May God help us in this great endeavor–and to God be the glory.
This article won a CHEA Support Network Award for Best Admonition in 2007.