We put our children back into private school this year after 1 1/2 years of
home-schooling them. Despite our feelings of inadequacy during that time,
we must have done something right as they have all adjusted well and are
beginning to flourish.
However this was not without a traumatic first couple of weeks. During
that time, we saw several "F’s" on spelling tests which led a couple
of our kids to many tears and feelings of being overwhelmed. Had we
responded to our kids the way a large number of other parents at the school are
responding, we would be have put our kids in a sure fire emotional, mental, and
far more tragically Spiritual tailspin.
Were we at all concerned? Yes. Were we concerned with the
F’s? Somewhat. Were we concerned about their academic future?
Not at all. Were we concerned they were not getting taught correctly or
that they were being overwhelmed with work etc.? No.
Then what exactly were we as parents concerned about? Our concerns
were over such questions as, how will you handle failure? How will you
handle the academic challenge? How will your prayer life as 11, 9 and 7
year olds be affected? How will your faith in Christ be shown to be
true? How will you rely on Christ for help, and wisdom and success?
Sadly, there are many parents who gladly call themselves Christians, where
these concerns are not anywhere near the top as chief concerns, or worse I
fear, simply not there at all. One parent who has struggled this year was
asked by my wife if they (parent and child) had taken their struggles to the
Lord to ask for His help, His wisdom, and His comfort to which the parent
replied "No". They further said that their children had never
seen direct answers to their personal prayers!
It is truly sad that parents, by their example in front of their children,
are saying that grades, performance, achievement are the pinnacle pursuits that
they must strive for. And if they don’t reach those levels of grandeur
and accomplishment, then teachers are to be blamed, questioned, exhorted until
little Johnny starts getting A’s. Folks, this is all so very backwards.
Let me encourage those of you with kids to remind them often, that you love
them, that you are proud of them not because of what they do or don’t do, but
because of who they are in Christ. Let me explain. If my son makes
"F’s" on his first three spelling tests and is distraught, saddened, embarrassed,
my concern at that point is not the F. It is how are you going to respond
to the whole host of heart issues that are surrounding this F? How will
you find guidance from God to deal with it and pursue a different outcome?
If you handle this with humility, recognizing there are areas where you need
to improve, study methods you have not yet tried that you can pursue, then that
will honor God and make me proud. If you recognize that there is help
from God available to you through prayer that He will give you (James 1), and then
your pursue Him more so as to receive His wisdom, this will honor God and I
will be proud of you. If you own up to your failure as your failure, not
blaming the teacher, not blaming your siblings, not blaming your lack of
privacy at home, not blaming _________, then God will be honored and I will be
proud of you. If you make strides in studying, if your habits become more
disciplined, if you see God helping you and easing the fear and feelings of
being overwhelmed, if you exhibit peace and joy and self-control in the midst
of difficulty, if you do all of these things and still only manage a
"C", "D", "F", then God will be honored and I
will be proud of you.
If you just flat out fail, I will not abandon you, or be embarrassed by you,
but will stand with you and behind you and we will continue to work and labor
for success with the Lord’s help, and by His grace, one day that will happen.
Our kids lives will be filled with far, far, far more important failures as
they grow into adults, than the failure of not being able to spell more than
60% of their words correctly at age 11, or be able to do distributive math.
How will they respond to those potentially crushing situations that await them
in life? With Grace? With Wisdom? With patience and peace?
In Kindness? With self-control? With long-suffering? Will
they handle things well because of the endurance / patience / perseverance they
learned through school age struggles?
They will if we as parents teach, train, counsel, and encourage them along eternal
guidelines and if we evaluate them on an eternal grading scale. Where are
the fruits of the Spirit in my children? Where is wisdom evident in my
child? Where is faith being tested, and where is it being exhibited in my
My son has made two "B’s" on his last two spelling tests without
us panicking, without us pushing him, or even really reminding him "he’d
better study". We have prayed with him. We have prayed for
him. We have asked him, how’s your heart in all this? How’s God
helping you in your preparation? How can we glorify God in the midst of
failure? And what did I tell him when the "B’s" came home?
Nothing at all about the grades themselves, but rather "I’m very proud of
the way you have handled adversity. You’ve brought God glory, and for
that I am thankful and so very proud."
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto
you. Do you believe that? We do.
To God be the Glory.