Whose Standards Do We Follow?
- Monday, May 24, 2010
"Mom, who is Oprah Winfrey?" my son asked one day while sitting at the kitchen table. The state we lived in required standardized testing for third through ninth grade. My son, then 8 years old, was reviewing a practice booklet when he asked the question.
After explaining to him that she was a TV celebrity, he asked, "Why do I need to know that?" With a smile in my heart I replied, "You don't." Later that evening I showed the book to my husband and pointed out several points of concern. We had come to the conclusion that since the tests were from a secular, humanist, and evolutionary point of view, our son would simply be at a disadvantage in taking them.
"Sweetheart, don't worry about it," my husband said. "After all, do we really want our children to be standardized?"
It is that very question that we have asked every year since. As Christian parents, do we want our children to be like the rest of the world? Unfortunately, it is a very easy trap to fall into. We have a vested interest in our children and want the best for them. The question is, "What is best?" Many would agree that if children excel in academics, are well-rounded in their social development, are active in sports, can play a musical instrument, are learning a foreign language, score high on the ACT, get a scholarship into a good college, and go on to make a high-paying career for themselves, they are successful. But while the world would unquestionably view this as success, as a believer in Christ, these are not necessarily my standards.
The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:15-17 to "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."
If we are not careful, our families will indulge in and love the things of this world. This kind of love is to our detriment, for there is a world system that we are not to love or cling to. The world will pass away; therefore, the way we live and the standards we set for our children need to be with eternity in mind. Otherwise, we have sold our children short. "For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?" (Luke 9:25).
Is it wrong to want our children to excel in academics? Absolutely not! But if academic excellence is the goal without the foundation of God and His Word, our priorities are misplaced. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:1-2). While I want my children to do well in their educational pursuits, I want to measure their success by God's standards and not the world's. Everything that passes through their minds needs to be filtered by the Word of God.
When I taught my 5-year-old subtraction, my goal was not that he learn the simple mathematic fact of 10 minus 1 equals 9. My goal was much higher. Instead, I took him to Luke chapter 17 and showed him the story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers. He learned that nine went away and one came back, giving thanks to Christ and glory to God. When we teach with a biblical mindset, math becomes more than just a lesson. It becomes an exercise in godliness.
My most important goal as a parent is to teach my children to love the Lord God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, first and foremost! Secondly, to love their neighbor as their selves. Jesus said that on these two commandments hang all the law and prophets (Matthew 22:36-40). I also want to teach them to work hard (Colossians 3:23), not to impress others with their intelligence or for self-centered achievement, but because in working hard we give God glory. Everything we teach our children can point to God and His glory. While these goals soar above all others and I fail miserably at times, in truth they are the only ones worth pursuing. To see how this is practically applied, let us look at a few of the core subjects that most children are taught.
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