It’s that time of year again. The weather is beginning to cool, kids are playing soccer 24 hours a day seven days a week (sorry, a little personal frustration thrown in there), the windows are open, the leaves will be turning soon, and the smell of diesel fuel as school buses zoom down the road in front of your house is enough to make you fall over gasping for breath. That’s right, it school time once again as mothers and fathers (mostly mothers) across the nation experience the simultaneous heartache and joy of sending there little back off to school.
With the beginning of school comes the inevitable joy and smiling of kids as they…..wait a minute. That’s not it. Maybe it is at your house, but for us school brings a bag of mixed emotions. There is some excitement. New school supplies are cool for a little while. It’s good to kids to see friends again that the kids haven’t seen for several months, and there is even a little bit of excitement about new teachers and lockers and desks and such. But then, there is grumbling. Things like getting up before the sun and homework which seemed like distant memories such a few short weeks ago have once again become part of the daily routine. So, what is a parent to do? Here are ten ways you can help your child’s homework time become a devotional time without them even knowing it. Sneaky, I know, but I prefer Jim Wideman’s approach to family devotions. I’m pretty sure it was in one of his books (if not, I’ll give him the credit anyhow – he probably deserves it) that I read that he doesn’t believe in “traditional” family devotionals. He postulates that if you are living your faith out in front of your kids you don’t need to manufacture devotional times (my words, not his, but I hope a decent summary). He’s right, too. As parents, we shouldn’t make following God something that we restrict to a set family devotional time. Rather, it should be part of our daily lives, and homework is no different.
Over the next couple of days, we are going to look at ten ways to redeem homework time for God. So, here we go.
1. Explain to your children that God gave them their mind and it is his desire that they use it.
We were all created by God in his image. He gave us our creativity. He gave us our giftings. He gave us our physical bodies, and he gave us our minds. He tells us in Mark 12:30 to love him with all of our heart, soul, strength, and MIND! Surely he did not give us our mind to allow it to shrivel up and become useless. Explain to kids that God gave us our minds (good and bad), and it is his desire that we would continue to plant and cultivate our minds. It is his will for us that we would continue to exercise our minds much in the same way that we exercise our bodies.
2. Explain that God created us to be “questioners.”
God did not create us just to accept what we are told. One of the verses that was instrumental in bringing me to Christ was 1 Thessalonians 5:21 which says:
Test everything: Hold fast to what is good. [1 Thessalonians 5:21 ESV]
Here was a faith inviting me to question it, and question it I would. Funny thing about God, he can stand the questions because he speaks the truth. When kids are doing schoolwork, it is easy to fall into the Joe Friday trap of “Just the facts, Ma’am.” Go beyond that. Help them the challenge what they know (in a respectful way of course). Help them to ask the “Why” and “How” questions that help learning move from the accumulation of facts to the synthesis and application of knowledge.
3. Explain that God chose their schools and their teachers.
God puts us exactly where he wants us to be. Furthermore, he puts people in positions of authority in our lives (including teachers) just as he deems fit. In Romans, Paul writes:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. [Romans 13:1-5 ESV]
Despite how your child may feel about school or his/her teachers, you must help them to understand that God has put them there for a reason. He has selected the people who run the school and your child’s teachers as authority figures in their lives, and as Romans 13:7 explains:
Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. [Romans 13:7 ESV]
Help your child to understand that you don’t have to agree with someone, or even like someone, to show them respect. We show respect because God has ordained it, not because we feel like people deserve it.
Come back tomorrow for three more ways to make homework time a devotional time.