ILLUSTRATIONS BY JOHN AMOSS
Laws may keep Bible study and Gods name from the classroom, but Jesus can be
kept out only if school employees, teachers and students drop Him off outside
the front door. The greatest evidence of Gods saving grace is the life of one
of His followers. Nobody can keep Jesus out of the classroom, as long as He
lives in the hearts of our children. And teaching our children to share the
gospel can change the school environment in another positive wayother children
can come to know Jesus through our own children.
Ive heard this saying many times: I may be the only Jesus another person may
see. That is true for my children, my entire family and for myself. Why
shouldnt we train our children to reflect the light of Jesus and to tell their
young friends that they have made a commitment to follow Him every day? Here
are seven ways.
1. Teach your child to love.
Loving fellow students doesnt mean that our children must agree with everything
other children are doing or saying. It simply means that they care for and
respect that child as an individual. Love speaks louder than words. My command
is this: Love each other as I have loved you (John 15:12).
2. Teach humility.
While our children need to know that they are specially created by God, they
shouldnt think more highly of themselves than others. By serving others, our
children learn what real service to God is about. Teaching them that to give is
to receive will help our own children, and also the ones whom they encounter
each day. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility
consider others better than yourselves (Philippians 2:3).
3. Teach the value of honesty.
Cheating, stealing and lying are obviously not exemplary behaviors. When
children see a church-going classmate rob others of their work or tell
untruths, it hinders their relationship to God.
Once a student acts dishonestly, others question the genuineness of his or
her faith. By refusing to stray from the principles of honesty, Jesus can be
exemplified. The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are
truthful (Proverbs 12:22).
4. Teach generosity.
We all can give something. We may not have an abundance of money to give to
others, but there are many things more valuable than material resources. When
we teach our children to give of their time, energy and creativity, they will
have the power to help their classmates in many ways. Tutoring the student who
is falling behind or sharing a kind word can make all the difference in another
childs perspective of the world. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes
others will himself be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).
Making a difference in public schools
As Christians, we need to let our light shine for our children and their
generations. The Bible is full of examples of how men and women were used by
God in secular places to bring about positive changes. Being an on mission
Christian in the public school means praying for Gods direction.
Do you see a need to help with your childs sports team, providing the
children with a Christian influence?
Is God calling you to start a Bible club after school hours? In my childrens
school, a Christian teacher answered Gods call to start a Bible club. As a
result, many children came to know Christ as their personal Lord and
Volunteer in your childs classroom. During your childs
elementary years, you can be assured that most teachers love to have extra help
in the classroom. This will give you an opportunity to get to know your childs
teacher and classmates as well as other parents.
Attend school meetings. Make sure you know what is going on
in your childs school by attending school board meetings and PTA meetings. By
getting involved you will open doors to areas where your Christian voice will
have an impact.
Contact the principal and teachers. Get to know the people
who spend hours a day with your child. Find ways to encourage and support them
in their work.
Reach out and touch other children. It doesnt take a
tremendous investment to make a difference in a childs life. You can start by
inviting your childs classmates into your home and also into your church.
Its obvious how much Jesus values children, and we need to follow His
example. Are we doing all we can in the school system to shape and mold our
children and their generation? When 90 percent of children in the United States
attend public school, Christian voices need to be heard.
Sand Lake, Michigan
5. Teach your child to be kind to others.
Actions speak louder than words. We as adults affect others by what we say and
do. The same is true for our children. Children can be cruel to others, using
words that hurt deeply.
The child with low self-esteem can be bruised for life by the words his
peers usenot only behind his back, but also to his face.
The old saying, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never
hurt me, is not at all true. Words can break hearts and wound spirits. Teaching
our children to practice friendship is to instruct them to encourage others,
cheer their friends on and sometimes cry with them when they are sad. Be kind
and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God
forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).
6. Teach your child to be joyful.
Joy is the result of knowing that we are deeply loved by God. Joy is a
celebration that looks beyond circumstances and sees love. A joyful person
laughs in the face of adversity. A joyful person praises the Lord even when
things arent perfect.
When a fellow classmate sees a friend who is happy regardless of the
injustices in the classroom, he can learn to be joyful as well. Tell your
children often that Jesus loves them, and encourage them to share His love with
others. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy
in your presence with eternal pleasure at your right hand (Psalm 16:11).
7. Teach forgiveness.
Probably the most difficult virtue to teach is the act of forgiveness. How can
a child forgive others when his ego has been shattered or hurtful words have
been felt? The only way to understand true forgiveness is to understand the way
that Jesus forgave.
Teach your child that nobody will ever live a perfect life and that we need
to be more understanding toward the failures of others. Getting even not only
hurts your childs classmates, it hurts them, too. For if you forgive men when
they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you (Matthew
Nancy Gibbs is a writer living in Cordele, Georgia.
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