by Bill Hall
"And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). In keeping with the instruction of this passage, there are certain things that I want to teach my children.
I want to teach my children proper reverence and respect in the worship periods of the church. When we meet for worship, we are present before God to worship God. Cornelius understood this as he said, "Now are we all here before God, to· hear all things that are commanded thee of God" (Acts 10:33).
Many people have surely given little thought to this matter. Women talk to each other in the nursery. Young people laugh and talk in the assembly. Children march in an unnecessary parade to the restrooms. Healthy men and women, who can be so eager and enthusiastic at an antique auction, or a ball game, or a school program drag in during the worship periods, flop down listlessly into the pew, and sleep throughout the sermon. Surely these people fail to realize that we are present before God. to worship God. I hope to teach my children that they are to revere God; that they are to sit quietly throughout the worship period; that they are to bow their beads in prayer; that they are to participate in the singing; and that they are to avoid creating any unnecessary disturbance during worship.
I want to teach my children to seek first the kingdom of God. Jesus said, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things [literally "things of life"] shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). I want my children to know that their growing up to be faithful Christians means more to me than anything else relative to them. Should they excel in sports, make top grades in school, earn Ph.D. degrees, win beauty contests, and live in luxury all their days, but fail to be faithful Christians, and consequently go to hell when they die, I will have failed as a parent.
If my boy wants to play Little League baseball, we must have a talk with his coach before we commit ourselves, ad explain to the coach that if a conflict arises between my boy's spiritual activities and his baseball activities, his spiritual activities must come first, Then we must abide by that understanding consistently, whatever pressures may arise to do otherwise. The same principle must apply in school activities, social activities, boy scouts, girl scouts, etc. Further, I hope to bring my children as they grow into maturity to make these decisions on their own. Too many young people hide behind their parents with the convenient "Mother won't let me," instead of standing for their own convictions and fighting unashamedly for the Lord. My goal is not to make them seek first the kingdom, but to bring them to want to seek first the kingdom that they might be pleasing to God.
I want to teach my children respect for authority: for parental authority (Galatians 6:1), for governmental authority (Matthew 22: 21), and above all else, for divine authority (Acts 5:29). A child is to be pitied who is not taught respect for authority when he is very small. He becomes a problem in the Bible class, in school, and in the community. Later in life, he is a problem on the job; he gets into trouble it the law; and finally is lost eternally, not having respected God's authority.
There are many things other than these which I hope to teach my children. Space does not permit a discussion of strength of character, honesty, fairness, and good manners, all of which I hope to teach my children.
Let no one think of this article as a boast of what I shall do; it is the setting forth of goals. No one is more conscious of the possibility of failure than I am. But my wife and I pray regularly that God will help us to bring up our children well, and that He will overrule our mistakes. Meanwhile, we try to set a good example before them; we teach ten by word of mouth, seeking to abide by those instructions which God gave to Israel: "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (Deuteronomy 6:6-7); and we try to do this consistently. And if someday we do see our children grow up to be faithful to the Lord, we know that it, will be by the grace of God, and we shall give Him the glory.