Back in the Sixties and Seventies, the folk/Rock group Crosby, Still, Nash and Young ruled the airwaves. While much of their music may seem dated today, one song (I heard it again today!) still lives, “Teach Your Children.”
My first hearing of that song happened “when I wore a younger man’s clothes” (to quote another rock icon). I knew nothing then of the complexities of child rearing much less what I wanted to teach them. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the curriculum demanded in that song!
But when I became a pastor, still young and without children, I could pretty much tell you whatever you needed to know about parenting and child rearing and discipline and all of the above. I was strident and confident and could have traveled the nation doing lectures to straighten out confused parents.
Then I became one. You’ve heard the story before. One guy had a lecture he gave entitled “The Ten Commandments for Child Rearing.” Then, he had a child and then another and then two more. When he was finished rewriting his lecture he renamed it, “Three Feeble Suggestions for Fellow Strugglers.”
I am very respectful when giving parenting advice. I don’t know your kids. And you don’t really know much about what kind of father I was. But there are some things that each of us, father or mother, married or single, need to put into practice with our children:
1.) Figure out where they need to be pointed. Help aim them well. Children, the Bible tells us in Psalms, are like “arrows in the hands of a mighty man.” As parents, we are the bow. The bow has one role… to discern where to point the arrow and release it. Ideally, our children will be aimed in a direction that will take a toll on the enemies’ camp. But sometimes we misfire. Sometimes the arrow just won’t go where it’s aimed. And sometimes the aim is random. Aim straight. Prayerfully. Release with confidence that God will guide them to the mark He intends.
2.) Be consistent. Let me tell you the two most important words you will learn about parenting. Be consistent. Don’t be a hypocrite. Your children may tell you that they think you are at some point. Your job is not to prove them right.
3.) Teach always. Teaching your children well is not an original thought with CSN&Y. It was first instilled in Jewish people by the Law of God in Deuteronomy 6:1-4. We are to teach by incarnating truth and living it out before our child “as they lie down, as they walk along the way.”
Teach your children well. Not because David Crosby and Company suggested it; but because God commanded it. So where ever you are in the parenting journey, teach your children well. And don’t give up.
We only get one shot!
FOR MEMORIZATION: Like arrows in the hands of a warrior, so are the children born in one’s youth. Psalm 127:4 NIV
FOR REFLECTION: If you have children still in your care consider the direction you are helping them aim their lives.