Pastor Brian Gilroy,
High Prairie Church of the Nazarene
Proverbs 22:6 reminds us of the impact each one of us has on the development of the children and teens within our realm of influence.
Regardless of whether we are a teacher, a sports coach, a parent, stepparent, common-law parent, uncle, aunt, grandparent or another prominent member in the town or Big Lakes County, each one of us will leave an impact upon these lives as strong or stronger than our carbon footprint on this planet.
“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” [Proverbs 22:6 RSV]
For many people, it is extremely important to ensure the survival of their heart language [language of birth or culture] and the traditions handed down from generation to generation. Often a tremendous amount of time and effort is spent in hosting events that encourage the re-enactment or celebration of key cultural components of their traditional way of life.
Many teachers and other educators will invest themselves in the life of a student in order to help that student reach their potential or be in the best place to succeed in life.
Countless hours are invested by coaches and parents in the development of their players or children in order to help them reach their potential with some aspiring to see their players or children even attain the goal of a sports scholarship or make a living as a professional athlete.
All these endeavours are admirable. Society needs strong leaders in every sector of society.
However, it is the unintentional or collateral impact that we truly need to think to seriously consider. The Bible emphasizes the responsibility of the parent to God for the blessings [yes, I said it, the blessing] of children. Each parent or guardian will be held accountable for the impact they have on the lives entrusted to them.
What kind of spiritual foundation have you laid in the life of the children entrusted to you? Whether we admit it or not, we do lay a foundation of faith in their lives. The life we live, the values we live by, the words we use – all these leave a mark or footprint in the lives of the children.
Whether we say it in public or in private, the eyes and ears of the children are able to hear it. Even if these same children seem to have selective hearing when asked to do chores.
Nepotism, favouritism in choosing teams, prejudice, pornography use, marital unfaithfulness or spousal abuse, drugs, alcohol, using God’s name in inappropriate ways as an expletive, are just some of the negative traits we pass on to those we influence. Good living, good work ethic, good intentions, community involvement may lead to public image or accolades but does not produce the spiritual foundation God intended.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 summarizes our responsibility: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
The most important lesson or thing you can imprint upon the life of the children entrusted to you is a credible witness of a life lived in a loving relationship with God.
But unless you are in that relationship 24/7 you cannot give that to the children.
Sunday School attendance as a child is not enough. You and I need to really examine ourselves and be brave enough to make changes.