The way we are trained to think and to behave as children has a lifelong impact on us. This impact is both a proverbial biblical truth, and a truth learned from experience. So, successful parents are focused on inspiring minds and shaping lives. It is critical that parents inspire, reform, and train the minds and hearts of their children to prepare them for life.
Inspiring Minds and Shaping Lives
Solomon reminds parents of this impact: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Educational psychologists have also recognized our obligation “to care for our young when they are their most vulnerable, most open to influence. It’s impossible to overstate just how dramatically our potential, and our lives, are shaped in those first years.” (Inspire Minds, Change Lives)
Training children to think and act righty (or to have good character) has been a biblical parenting priority from the very start. Since graduating seminary in 2003 I have been a pastor. My affirmation into ordained ministry gave me a calling “for the equipping of the saints” and “for building up the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12). I have always had a passion to help people become better leaders in their homes and in their church communities. I have fielded many questions around parenting.
Reforming Minds and Shaping Lives
The Reformers emphasized the importance of giving children the right start to life. They were not the first to focus on this priority. But, these leaders took the task more seriously than it had ever been taken before. They were the driving forces behind the universal education of boys and girls. We have these men to thank for the system of education that we take for granted today. One writer summarizes John Calvin’s (1509-1564) emphasis on education as follows:
No man ever worked harder at a task than did John Calvin. He preached several times each week, taught theology, wrote commentaries, superintended a whole system of schools, wrote books and pamphlets, carried on an extensive correspondence with Reformation leaders all over Europe, and took oversight of the Reform movement in Geneva. [Calvin] was interested in everything that affected the lives and welfare of the people. He believed that Christianity should be carried into every relationship of life. (John Chitty, “John Calvin: Erecting ‘the most perfect school of Christ’.)
This reminds me of Deuteronomy 11:18-19, where the LORD instructs his people:
18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Training Minds and Shaping Lives
Martin Luther, the German Reformer (1483-1546), wrote of the critical responsibility parents, the church, and society have in the education of our children:
Indeed, for what purpose do we older folks exist, other than to care for, instruct, and bring up the young? It is utterly impossible for these foolish young people to instruct and protect themselves. This is why God has entrusted them to us who are older and know from experience what is best for them. And God will hold us strictly accountable for them.” (“To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany that they Establish and Maintain Christian Schools” Luther’s Works American Edition, vol. 45, p. 353)
Have you equipped yourself to fulfill this purpose? Successful parenting starts with the right foundational commitments. God calls us to understand what this means. He tells us how to accomplish this parental calling. So we can summarize our task of inspiring minds and shaping lives very simply:
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 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 (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).