“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” Proverbs 1:8-9
Often, our children grudgingly learn the above verse in Sunday school. By mid-elementary, they almost personally connect to the meaning of this verse, and find a few flaws in the teaching they receive.
As a mother I see the proverb as a reminder of great responsibility and as a challenge to me as a parent: is my teaching worthy of gracious adornment?
Very few times.
“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” reads James 3:1.
Teachers will be held accountable by what they teach. All teachers. Not just those who teach at church, not just those who teach at school, anyone who teaches.
If you are a parent you know you can’t delegate this teaching task. Those small eyes noting your every move, those little ears listening to all your words, (not just those intended for them,) that precious child is learning from you. Once you’re a parent, you are a teacher whether or not you ever volunteered for the position.
When my girls were little, I taught them to listen to their bodies. “If you’re hungry, eat something healthy; if you’re sleepy, take a nap; and by all means, if you need to go to the bathroom, GO!”
But the words would have been meaningless if I pushed myself through any of those issues without resolving them appropriately. Because all kids have two eyes which seem to work infinitely better than their two ears.
The same is true for laying a foundation of faith: if I tell my children to forgive each other yet hold a grudge myself, my words are useless. If I say time with God is paramount yet overload my schedule so I miss my quiet time and even church attendance, what good were my professions?
The purpose of exploring this passage through this lens is not to inflict more guilt on parents who already second guess themselves, but to challenge us to be intentional in our teaching.
Let’s evaluate our teaching with these three questions:
1) What do I want to teach?
2) Am I a living example of what to do?
3) Am I myself teachable?
What do I want to teach? If you claim Christianity, that means teaching the character of God, His rules, His great love, and His plan for salvation. Simply put, to teach it, we must know it. We must spend time in His word and with Him.
Am I a living example? We’re not talking for perfectionism here! But when I make a mistake, do my kids see me own up to it? Ask forgiveness? Make it right?
Am I teachable? If I expect my kids to positively respond to constructive criticism, then so should I. Do I readily admit I am still learning? Do I actively search for and expand upon my knowledge? “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!” declares Psalm 139:1 Do I ask the Lord to show me where I need to change?
Parenting is a blessing, the biggest I have ever known. It is also the most challenging endeavor I have ever undertaken. Unlike a job, you can’t take a vacation or a leave of absence from parenting. You can’t put it on pause to go get more education.
But that’s OK. Because although we might often feel like it, we are not alone in these trenches. God wants to guide us. He wants to author our words, propel us into action, and reign in our reactions. And like us, He is on call 24/7, (but He is not grouchy in the middle of the night!)
And just as He promises us in II Corinthians 12:9, His grace is indeed sufficient!
Monday: Read Proverbs 1:8-9 Think about those you teach, parent, or otherwise influence. How can your words be worthy of adoration?
Tuesday: Answer the question: What do I want to teach?
Wednesday: Answer the question: Am I a living example of those principles? What needs some work? Devise a plan to work it out.
Thursday: Answer the question: Am I teachable?
Friday: Prayer: Lord, how humbling to face the truth of who I am and how different that is from who you authored me to be. Yet, thank you for the hope that I can indeed change, I can indeed do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and that your forgiveness is always present. Thank you that indeed your grace is sufficient! Amen.
Thank you for reading! Please return by Monday, May 26, for the next post. Have a blessed week!