September 1, 2018
One of my favorite actors is Denzel Washington, and my favorite of his movies is Remember the Titans. He is an amazing actor and has starred in many great movies. He is also a father, and he and his wife Pauletta have four children who are now adults. Although you may hear about many celebrity children’s antics and partying, you may have never heard anything about his children, because unlike so many of his friends in Hollywood, his children have never been involved in any scandals or negative news. He says he owes that to his faith and his strict form of parenting. He and his wife instilled respect and common courtesy into their children when they were a young age. In the technology age Denzel advised his children, “not to become addicted to social media, but if they use it, to do so to share God’s Word.” He and his wife were diligent in training their children, and their lives reflect their faithful parenting.
As Christian parents we like to quote the verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” Proverbs 22:6. We remember this verse because we know that our children grow up and eventually leave the safety of our influence and protection. We also know that the world will seek to swallow them up and lead them away from how we intended to raise them. This verse implies being proactive in teaching our children to walk in the ways of the Lord, guiding them in the steps they should take, not just letting them go until they do something wrong and then correcting them. It is not intended, however, to be a safety net that somehow insures that our children will never stray away from living their life for God. The fact is, our children are accountable for themselves to God, and must make right decisions for that to be a reality in their life. The key word in this verse is the word train. Training is what parenting is all about, and for us as educators our role in training is to come alongside parents and assist them in training their children. To train a child is incredibly hard work, for parents, and for teachers, and there is no greater responsibility that is given to parents and to us as teachers. As we find ourselves in the daily role of training and nurturing and are reminded of Proverbs 22:6, may we also be reminded of the effort and hard work it takes to actually see it fulfilled.
Some people are natural born nurturers, while others (like myself) have to really work hard at it. I’ve noticed how many of our FCS parents and teachers are loving and positive to their children, no matter what the circumstances are or how they might feel. To do this is a genuine gift, but I believe anyone can become a trainer and a nurturer if they believe their efforts will add value to the children and students whom they influence. Growing up I remember my mom as one of those people who always seemed to think of others before herself. She was the same way with all her children, but equally as selfless with the children she taught in kindergarten or adults she ministered to in the church. I’ve always wanted to be more like her and be able to have the kind of influence on others that someone with her nurturing spirit has.
In the classrooms at FCS, our commitment to being nurturers is motivated by our love for students. Jesus said in John 15:12, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” If we truly love those who we teach we will always find a way to help them. If our motivations are anything but genuine concern and caring for them, we will find excuses as to why we should not. We also need to believe in each of them. My observations of teachers over the years prove to me that if we as teachers give our students hope and trust, they will do everything they can to keep from letting us down. A teacher cannot nurture from a distance. It has to be up close. Our students need our time and our personal contact. We have to pour our lives out into theirs. Teaching, like parenting, is not an endeavor from which we can expect anything back. Our children and students may come back and thank us in the future, but we have to give to our children and our students with no strings attached. At the end of a year the teachers who have given their students the opportunities to succeed will be able to see that they have been elevated to a higher level. In our homes we as parents must be willing to follow God’s instructions for raising our children. This includes Biblical discipline and teaching our children to obey and respect God’s authority, as well as the authority of us as parents and for the teacher in the classroom. It includes modeling Christian behavior in front of our children and following God’s plan for structure in the home. The reality of parenting is that our time with our children goes by quickly, and before we realize it our children are grown and our influence on them has become much less than when they were young children. That’s why the Bible tells us in Proverbs that if we love our children we will train them early in their lives.
Training our children as God intended is certainly not easy, but God does not require us to do the impossible. In James 1:5-6 it says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.”