School is Back!
For many of us, our kids will be going back to school in just a few short weeks. For some of us, we have already found ourselves back in the old school routine. However, no matter how long your kids have been going to school, there is that never-ending sense of worry that most every parent faces when their children go to school. With so much talk today about school-shootings, bomb threats, bullying, drugs and alcohol, peer pressure, anxiety, depression, suicide rates, cliques, fights, teachers, assignments, grades, religous oppression, and the other 845 things that people worry about, it's no wonder parents, teenagers, and even young children are coated in anxiety and fear the moment they step into the crowded hallways of their schools. These fears have become the focal point of our prayers, our facebook posts, our internet search histories, and our minds. That's why I've put together these quick six points to guide you in preparing your kids (and yourself) for this school year.
So lets dive into the first, and most important point...
1. Don't Worry
Yes, there are a million things that you have to be worried about. But, that doesn't mean that you have to worry about them. The most hightlighted verse in the Bible is Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." This begs the question, "How?" How can I not be anxious when there are so many reasons to be anxious? How can I stay calm amidst the threats of bullies and bomb threats, peer pressure and addictions, and all those other things? Well, rewind with me two verses and you can have your answer. "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near."
Let me re-emphasize that last phrase: THE LORD IS NEAR! Why don't I have any reason to be nervous or anxious? Because, I know that God is near. He is there. He is walking before my child into that school and no matter what he or she faces, my God is watching over them! Just as scripture says in Psalm 91:1, "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." I would encourage you to go read the rest of that psalm, because it will give you confidence that the Lord is near to you and your children. He is protecting them under his wings. He's got their back against the bullies (Rom 12:9), he can keep them from the temptations (Jude 1:24), he will never leave them (Joshua 1:5). So, don't be anxious about anything, but in all things, pray.
2. Pray with them Every Morning
Know this, your fear and anxiety will only increase the fear and anxiety within your children. Talk to them with confidence, pray over them before they go to school every morning, and pray with boldness that God will go before them. The more you exibit boldness before your children, the more they will exude boldness in their schools. Even if you aren't an "expert prayer", take this step to bless your children each morning and send them off in a spirit of confidence. That's why Paul said previously, "but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." When you pray over your children, peace will guard, not only your heart and mind, but the hearts and minds of your children as well! Every morning, you have the opportunity to set the spiritual atmosphere of your kids' entire day. Either they will go into their day with a victorious attitude or a melencholy, just-another-day attitude. This will take some intentionality on your part. It will be awkward when you start off, but as time goes on, it can become an incredibly powerful moment to start off your day. Don't just try it out, live it out. Teenagers might be reluctanct, children might be fidgety, but the Spirit of God will be on the move. Start their day off in confidence and faith through prayer!
3. Be Available
How many times have you experienced this: you come home after a long, hard day of work. All you really want to do is grab the leftovers from the fridge, walk over to the couch and do nothing for the rest of the day. But alas, you have the loud screams of "responsibility" calling from their bedroom asking for help with homework. You go in, give the minimum amount of effort you can, and try to get out as soon as possible. Or, you have the teenager who is silent and hidden away in their room, making it easier to take a passive role and spend the rest of your day on the couch.
One of the greatest needs that your children has during this school year is the need for a parent who is there for them. They need to be asked about their day, even if all they can muster out is a half-legible "fine". Be relatable to them and talk about when your experiences. Talk about your battles and how God pulled you through. Remember your struggles at their age and talk about them (odds are they are experiencing some of the same things you did). Remind them that you want to be present in their lives, not some adult who lives in the same building as them and makes them do chores. Do your best to walk alongside them throughout the year and be a listening ear.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 tells us, "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." Whether they appreciate it or not, there is always an opportunity for you to reach out to your children and direct them to Scripture. My mother did this all the time growing up and I almost always found it annoying. And now, here I am preaching the gospel to people all around the world. Never underestimate the power of imprinting the Word into your children. To quote a verse you might already know, Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." Again, never underestimate the power of imprinting the Word of God into your children.
4. Get Them Involved in a Bible Club
One of the most difficult things every Christian child faces is the feeling that they are alone in their schools. The good news is that we know it's not true. Every school across America is full of Bible-believing Christians, sometimes they are just hard to find. Thank God for Bible clubs. Nearly every school has a Bible club, whether its a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), or some other club. Call your school and ask about these clubs, and if there isn't one in your school, MAKE ONE! There are countless resources available to help assist you or your pastors to start a Bible club in your kids school.
The truth is that your kids need to surround themselves with other believers in their schools. That can be significantly difficult if they all feel that they are alone. Hebrews 10:25 tells us, "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." Involving your child in a Bible club will equip him or her with friends who can encourage, uplift, and support them. These can be quality friends who are experiencing the same people and struggles as your child and can relate to them at a level that you never could. Do not neglect the gathering of believers.
5. See Your School as a Missions Field, not a Mine Field
Your ultimate purpose as a parent is to equip your children to be disciples, not to just help them survive childhood and adolescence. Psalm 125:3-5 says, "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court." Your children are weapons in the Kingdom of God. They aren't small punching bags for the Devil to attack at school. They are weapons to destroy him and his hold on the students in their schools. How crazy is that!? God has given you such an incredible gift! You shouldn't be afraid of what the enemy can do to your children. The enemy should be afraid of what your children can do to him! I understand that they are young and learning, they will stumble and fall. But, train them up. God's greatest purpose for them and their schools is to fulfill the great commission, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20).
Guide your children through their hurts, encourage them, challenge them, and equip them to be the light that pierces the darkness within their schools.
6. Set The Standard
Finally, I will say this. We should all recognize that kids will follow, not just what we tell them to do, but what we show them to do. They look to you and see how you are fulfilling these things, or not fulfilling them. Ask yourself, "what example am I giving my children?" If you spend your days on the couch, don't be suprised when they skip on their homework. If you disrespect those in authority over you (your boss, your pastor, your husband), don't be suprised when you get a call that they are disrespecting their teachers. If you treat church as optional, don't be suprised when God becomes an afterthought in their lives. Be diligent and adamant like Joshua. You need to make the choice. “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14-15). Choose today the example that you will set for your home. As you do, you will see that your children will follow your lead. Do it today! The older your children get when you decide to act, the more difficult it will be for them to follow. But, most importantly, rely heavily on God's grace. You might feel tired, but God always has an extra supply of strength to give. Galatians 6:9 is a great verse to keep in mind, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
Don't be anxious, God is near. He is closeby. He will not leave you. He will give you strength. He will supply your courage and boldness. He will guide you. Rely on Him and on His Word, and you will see that you and your children will take on this year and conquer it. The gates of hell cannot stand against you or your family. When you and your family partner with the Spirit of God, nothing can hold you back. God will equip you with His Spirit. "The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:39).