The Christian Parent or Teacher: Called to Serve as Priest

By James Beeke (cont’d)

Children learn something from what they hear; more from what they see; but most from who you are. We cannot underemphasize the power of example. Scripture continually draws our attention to example-setting power. Consider the following illustrations of this truth, both positively and negatively:

  • "And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah did" (II Chronicles 26:4).
  • "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that
  • is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice: and I am persuaded that in thee also" (11 Timothy 1:5).
  • "And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam and the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin" (1 Kings 22:52).
  • "He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly" (II Chronicles 22:3). "And she being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger" (Matthew 14:8). The power of example plays a predominate role in teaching our children and students sound daily habits. Consider that which we are really teaching in the following examples:
  • If we tell them that it is important to be on time, but we frequently arrive late.
  • Parents, if we tell our children that they must always obey the rules, whether we are there observing them or not, but they observe us slowing down when a radar comes in view.
  • Teachers, if you lecture your students about the harmful effects of messiness after viewing the sloppy condition of their desks, but they see the disorganization of your own.

Parents, if you read the Parable of the Good Samaritan to your children tonight at the dinner table, but tomorrow you seek to avoid your neighbor who needs help, what are your children learning about Christianity? If you read Genesis 9:20-23 in the morning, how Ham sinned grievously by broadcasting the sins of another while Shem and Japheth tried to cover them; but that evening at a family birthday gathering at your home you relate the wrongdoings of another that you heard about that day, what are your children learning?

Is religion an idea to talk about or a life to live’? Is Christianity theory or practice? Thomas Watson once wrote, "The daughter is the mother in second edition; and a father is the mirror by which a son dresses himself by for life; make certain that the glass is clear and unspotted."

On the hem of the high priest’s blue robe were mounted golden bells and colorful pomegranates in an alternating manner. The ringing of a bell signified public testimony in biblical times. Pomegranates typified fruitfulness. With every step the priest made, those nearby could see the waving pomegranates and hear the bells. So God calls us, to be an example for the next generation. In our daily walk our children are to hear our testimony and see our fruitfulness - yes, in every step we take.

SERVING AS PRIEST

The work of an Israelite priest focused upon three activities, i.e., to sacrifice for, to pray for, and to bless the people. God calls us also as parents and teachers, to serve as priests for our children.

God calls us to self-sacrifice for our children and students. We are to do so from a spirit of genuine love for them. Consider the one and only perfect example, Jesus Christ. What a total giving of Himself Jesus demonstrated, and that for stubborn and rebellious children and students! Think of how much He valued His children!

Do we esteem our children? Do we view each child/ student as a gift of God - a gift of eternal value and consequence? If we would observe a person handling an old vase, we would perceive how much he valued it. If he handled it roughly or carelessly, he would reveal that he valued it little. If he handled it tenderly and with great care we would see that he valued it highly.

How do you handle your children/students? Can it be observed, from your interaction with them, that you value them as gifts of God, as objects of eternal consequence? Do the following scriptural references reflect something of your heart for your children/students? "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him" (Psalm 103:13). "And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him" (Luke 15:20).

Never use degrading words or disdainful mannerisms when speaking to or about your students, even when upset with, or needing to discipline them. Never mock or poke fun of your children. Refleet seriously a moment upon that which is conveyed when an annoyed father snatches a tool from his son’s hand and exclaims, "You are so useless! here, let me do it." Think of what an irritated teacher really communicates when she snaps, "You never listen! You’ll never get anywhere!" There are times when we must deal firmly, even very firmly with our children, but always do so respectfully.

Never betray your children’s trust, confidence, or personal intimacies. Do not speak about your students’ weaknesses or failures to others (unless working confidentially with others in a counselling atmosphere to resolve problems or strengthen weaknesses). Our children need the security of knowing that they can trust us totally.

Love calls for self-sacrifice. It calls us to give of our time and interest, but especially of our heart. It is one thing to love our children and students; it is another to convey this love. The following story illustrates something of what it means to convey self-denying love:

Sad news reached a godly mother’s ears from a distant large city; news which nearly broke her heart. She heard that her runaway daughter had forgotten her loving words of warning and advice, had forgotten her mother’s God, and had so far forgotten herself that she was leading a life of sin and shame. When the mother heard this, she decided to find her lost child. She at once set out for the city and upon arriving there, began to look for the place where her daughter was living. This was difficult, for she had moved from the address where the mother had sent her letters. Day and night, into every likely place, the poor heartbroken mother went in search of her wandering child.

After a number of days of searching without success, she decided to return home, but a new thought flashed across her mind. She went to the photographer’s and had her picture taken. She had a number of copies made and then went to the various places of sin, asking permission to hang them on the walls. It was a strange request, indeed; but seeing the type of person she was, no one turned her away.

Some time after that, the daughter and her friend walked into one of these places. Her attention was immediately drawn to the picture on the wall. She said, "That looks like my mother!" She went to look at it more closely, and exclaimed in amazement, "IT IS MY MOTHER!" Then she noticed something written at the bottom of it, and recognized the familiar handwriting at once. But she was not prepared for what those words expressed: "Mary, I love you still!"

This was too much for this wayward daughter. She was prepared for scoldings and hard words, and expected nothing else; but to think that her mother had actually been searching for her in places of sin and folly, and was willing to receive her back home just as she was, she could not understand. As she thought about the words, "Mary, I love you still!" the days of her childhood came back before her and all memories of her godly home - her mother's prayers, tears, and loving advice; and as she thought about the difference between what she was then and what she was now, she completely broke down. Tears flowed from her eyes as her heart broke. The awfulness of her evil ways was clearly brought into her mind, and she at once decided to leave her sinful friends and to return to her mother.

A priest was called to pray for his people. We, too, are called to pray, priest-like, for our children/students. First, we are to pray for our children. So many influences touch their lives which lie outside of our control. We need God’s help. Our student’s need God’s constant protecting and blessing hand. Let us, Job-like, pray continually for our children, "And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually" (Job 1:5).

You know the story of Augustine’s life, As a young man, the more he sinned the more his mother prayed. You also know the result. Later in his life, Augustine testified, "My mother, Monica, travailed more for my spiritual birth than my natural." Can this be said of us, as parents and teachers?

Secondly, pray with your children. Let them hear your heart beat in prayer for them. Let our students witness your genuine care and concern for them.

Thirdly, we must pray for ourselves as parents and teachers. We must pray continually for love and wisdom. May our prayer echo Solomon’s, "Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?" (2 Chr. 1:10).

A priest not only sacrificed and prayed, he also blessed the people. We are also called, as parents and teachers, to be a blessing for our children and students. We are to be a blessing through our talk, walk, guidance and influence. "By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked" (Proverbs 11:11). Are we such a blessing influence in our homes and classrooms? May the Lord, by His wondrous grace, testify of us, as He did of Abraham, "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing" (Genesis 12:2).

(To Be Continued)