We will not hide these truths from our children;
we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
about His power and His mighty wonders.
Psalm 78:4, NLT
Even with over three decades in the field of education, I still look forward to the start of another school year. I’m excited for students who will have the chance to gain more knowledge, consider new concepts, and interact with one another. Whether in public, private, or home-school settings, this season reminds both children and adults of the importance of the learning process.
This learning process is extremely critical when it comes to our spiritual development too. Everyone, young and old, should keep growing—just as Paul reminded early believers: “I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God” (Ephesians 1:16b-17). In a sense, we should be experiencing “Back to School” regularly in our journey of faith.
Psalm 78 also clarifies that the older generation must pass on truths about the Lord to the children in their care. Look at these verses from that psalm which give the rationale for this concept:
For He issued His laws to Jacob; He gave His instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them—even the children not yet born—and they in turn will teach their own children. So, each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting His glorious miracles and obeying His commands. (verses 5-7)
Notice that the instructions God gave were to be the first agenda items that should be passed on to the next generation. Why? So they could learn them, avoid mistakes, and then pass the Lord’s great ways of living on to yet another generation. In other words, by intentionally instructing the younger generation, adults were offering them the opportunity to “set their hope anew on God.”
Over the years of teaching, consulting, and writing, I’ve been asked a lot of questions—particularly about parenting. I’ve often been astonished when people express their concern about being too intentional about faith. Some men and women are uncertain about what to share; others are apathetic. The most surprising conversation I had was with a family member who thought his kids should just “get” faith on their own. I remined him that we would never expect children to simply “get” reading, writing, or math by themselves—instead, we’re extremely intentional about teaching these critical subject areas. Boys, girls, teenagers—and adults for that matter—rarely pick up knowledge without some sort of guidance. Indeed, strategic educational effort helps learners all throughout the life cycle.
In our book, Straight Line for Parents: 9 Strategies for Raising Exceptional Kids (Wilke & Wilke, 2012), we talk about “three pillars” for bringing up the next generation: Faith, Family, and Education. We specifically list the pillars in this order for a reason. Faith is the foundation, family is the framework, and education provides the pathway for success. Ten or twenty years ago we might not have been so definitive—but with over sixty years of combined professional interactions with children and adults and three-plus decades of parenting (and now grandparenting) together, we are confident that these pillars will work for you and your family.
So, how’s your “Back-to-School” process going? Are you intentionally working to improve your spiritual knowledge? If so, how? Is there anything else you might do to guarantee that you are growing “in your knowledge of God”? What’s happening with the young people in your life? Maybe they’re your children, or grandchildren, or nieces and nephews. Perhaps you teach a Sunday School class—or just have neighbor kids with whom you interact. Could you find some new, innovative ways to “tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about His power and His mighty wonders”?
If you’re not sure where or how to get started, why not read through Psalm 78 to find out what that generation passed on—truths that are still impacting the world we live in today. In addition, you can read Straight Lines for Parents in paperback or Kindle versions—or pick up a copy for someone you care about. We also recommend checking out Focus on the Family at www.FocusOnTheFamily.com for fantastic faith-based resources. Whatever you do, keep learning this Back-to-School season—and all throughout life’s wonderful journey!
Many blessings to you from everyone at Sonkist Ministries!
Thought of the Month
O my people, listen to my instructions.
Open your ears to what I am saying,
for I will speak to you in a parable.
I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
stories we have heard and known,
stories our ancestors handed down to us.