The Humble Parent/Teacher

”I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). ”I am the vine.” These are Jesus’ words. If we are honest as parents and teachers, our naturally proud hearts beat to a different rhythm. Each parent thinks, ”I am the vine.” Each teacher turns to self as the ”vine” to trust in, to rely on. Our proud hearts deceive us. We need to grow in humility. Jesus Christ is the source of life, not I.

Jesus also stated, ”Ye are the branches.” This is true in a two-fold sense. Outwardly our Christian homes and schools are set apart by God and placed in a special covenant relationship with Him. To ”abide in” Christ, however, and to ”bring forth much fruit” refers especially to our need for an inward relationship to God’s Covenant of Grace, our need to be savingly attached to Jesus Christ.

What happens to a branch that is cut off? Does it not wither and die? Even if the branch was beautiful, blooming and promising, even if it appeared as if it would produce much fruit, when it was severed from the vine it withered and died. This is the lesson pictured here for us, as parents and teachers. Left to ourselves, we wither and die. Apart from the Vine there is no life. Is your teaching becoming more lifeless? Is your parenting becoming more spiritually dry? Why? Could the answer lie here, that your teaching and parenting are not sufficiently connected to the life-giving Vine?

John 15:5 contains a positive and negative. The negative statement is ”for without Me you can do nothing.” Would you like to measure the degree of your humility as a parent or teacher? Use this measure - the degree to which you have internalized this truth ”for without Me ye can do nothing.” The Greek expression ”without Me” can also be translated ”severed from Me.” ”Severed from Me,” Jesus teaches, ”ye can do nothing.” Why are parents and teachers so foolish, even after received grace? Why as parents do we strive to accomplish goals using a withering self-branch? Why as teachers do we frequently struggle to bring forth fruit from a dead source? The desired fruits will never be produced by our intentions, promises, words or actions. We need the lifegiving Vine, Jesus Christ. The deepening realization of this truth can be so disappointing to a parent, so disheartening to a teacher. This cutting-off-from-self experience can be so painful for self-pride. When the blossoms of my zeal for God wither, the warmth of my prayers to the LORD cool and the river of my love for God dries up, I begin to lose hope. This hurts and disappoints. It stings my self-centeredness. It pricks the balloon of my pride. This negative realization is necessary, however, to usher in the positive. The overgrown tree of self-pride must be cut down to enable the fruitful vine to grow. The abasement of self is required for the exultation of Christ. In this way I learn that the fruits are not produced by my prayers to God, but Christ’s prayers for me. The desired results do not depend on my love for God, but His unfailing love for me.

A humble parent realizes the source for life-giving sap. A humble teacher learns to trust the promises of God. Not our plans, but God’s plan counts. Not our attainments are the focus, but Christ’s attainment. Jesus Christ is the Vine - not me. Therefore to be successful as a parent or a teacher, I need to ”abide in Him.”

What a difference there is between a humble and a proud teacher! The condescending manner in which the proud teacher speaks to a misbehaving student betrays its source. Self-pride produces such cold, dry, dead fruit. Contrast this with the warm, tender, loving care of the humble teacher. Both speak words of correction, but what a difference there is in how correction is communicated! A parent internalizing the truth that he or she is no better than his or her disobedient child, feels and thinks about this much differently than the self-righteous parent does. A father living the truth that Jesus can work in his son or daughter the same grace as he needs, responds accordingly.

The humble parent needs Jesus in everything. The humble teacher realizes and lives the importance of the Vine, Jesus Christ, in the little as well as important matters of daily life. The proud abide in self. The humble abide in Christ. Are you a humble parent, an abiding-in-Christ teacher’?