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What Does the Bible Say about Educating Your Children?

Jeff:
Today’s topic is what does the Bible say about educating children? And the number one responsibility our culture invests in is kids’ education. I want to hear Jeremy talk about this for a second, but I will say before, I know you guys do this so well, so I’m interested to hear what you guys say. But one thing I’ll say that I think is really fascinating that seems like one of those things I call hidden in plain sight in scripture in the sense of it’s there obviously, but we just don’t ever think twice about it because the kind of the water we’re swimming in as American Western 21st century people is that there is so many commands and there is so much scripture and ink dedicated to kids’ learning and being formed and being actively discipled and almost all of them are from the parent.

I think I find that very interesting that the home is the hub of spiritual formation for your kids, not the teacher, not the youth pastor. Those are amazing supplements. I think the people that actually go off the deep end are the people that say it’s only this, not that. I think it’s all of them, but there is clearly a priority list. There is clearly a way at which that should be ordered. And so yeah. How do you guys do this? You guys have done this having almost half the kids now kind of educated and gone and moving on. How have you guys done this and thought through this?

Jeremy:
Yeah, so obviously this a massive topic. I just want to say, and this is just to give you guys a little tidbit as to how to think through this. And the way that I started to really ask a tough question and that is, if all I had was the Bible and I didn’t know anything about the cultural pressure of what to do with kids, what would I do with my kids from the ages of two to 20? What would I, if I just said I want to do it the way the Bible describes it, what would I do? Does the Bible give any insight into this? I remember one time I was actually trying to figure out, is there a curriculum in the Bible? Does it include science and art and language and math? I was really trying to be very, I don’t know, just objective. What does the Bible say about educating children? Is this a value that I just sort of inherited from the culture? Or is this something that really the Bible does talk about? And does the Bible talk about the method or anything like that?

And so the verse that I really started to zero in on when I tried to answer this question and just try to answer it honestly was Deuteronomy 6 really does describe what a child is doing with their time while they’re a child. And it’s a really interesting passage. This is one of the most well known passages in the whole sort of Old Testament. The Jewish people really see this as sort of the culmination of the Torah, sort of the summary of the Torah. Jesus talked about the first few verses of this passage.

And so let me just read this to you guys. This is Deuteronomy 6. It says, “Listen, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength. And then you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I’m giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you were getting up. Tie them on your hands. Wear them on your foreheads as reminders. Write them on the doorpost of your house and on your Gates.”

When I tried to answer this question what is a kid doing while they’re a child in a biblical household? The basic description being given in Deuteronomy 6 is, they are hanging out with their parents all the time and their parents are talking to them constantly about the Lord.

Jeff:
Totally.

Jeremy:
That’s a very high bar, but I think that’s interesting. It was really helpful for me to get that correction or at least that perspective as a dad to try to figure out what should I be really prioritizing? And so that was something that just really hit me and guys, I know we live in a very complex society. Kids need a lot of education. They need to learn how to read and write and add and subtract and all those things. I believe in all those things and education is important and I’m just giving you guys a tiny little fragment of an idea here, but I think it’s really important to keep in mind that as important as all of those things are, our society sees those as almost ultimate. If you did that and your kids aced the SAT or ACT and they get to into a good college, then you can go ahead and say check a box to say, “Wow, you’re an amazing parent.”

And there’s something sort of just from a compass perspective, misaligned about that as being the ultimate goal of what it means to be a great parent. And in terms of just how you think about prioritizing your kids’ activities, what I would really glean from this, and what it’s really caused me to think about in looking at this passage is I need my kids to be with me. I need to be talking to them about the Lord. And I got a limited amount of time where they’re children, and they’re at sort of that sponge level where this can happen. And so that began to be more and more of what we sort of designed our kids’ education around. A lot of my decisions around job or how we spend our time started to really be dictated by trying to figure out how do we come, how do we lean deeper into Deuteronomy 6.

And it’s not easy, man. This is really challenging to do in this day and age. There’s no easy way to do this, but this really helped me understand what true north looked like so I could just begin to take baby steps that direction. Jeff, what are your thoughts on that?

Jeff:
Yeah, I wouldn’t add much to that you guys. One thing I would say, because we’re very much exactly I think have been convinced of the same thing, of Deuteronomy 6 is actually not just an enormously rich central passage to the Old Testament, but something that is actually deeply impacted Jewish people and formation and household development for thousands of years. It is one of the great, great passages to meditate on, to chew on, to think on. Jesus Himself quotes from it in the temptation of Himself in the desert. I think it’s six, seven and eight if I’m remembering correctly, so those chapters are central. And what I would end on is just the tip and just the encouragement, what Jeremy said, but is saying a different way, is take ownership. Just take, I think one thing our culture does is actually take the ownership away from us. They take ownership away from us for the development of our kids.

It’s the next book. It’s the next psychologist. It’s the school. It’s the afterschool program. It’s the youth pastor. It’s the church. It’s Awanas. It’s every, you can go on and on and on and those things are not wrong. Supplemental, I think is the perfect word for that. They’re great and they’re a blessing. But you have to take ownership back of saying that, “My kids’ development squarely falls on me.” And I might not have that much time. I might be gone eight hours a day, but how can we lean into this? How can we integrate? How can we be spirit led? And do we believe that if we do lean into that, the spirit then opens a creative and awesome and amazing doors. Gives us the capacity, gives us the skills, gives us the community around us. And so what would it look like to take ownership back? Because I think then you will get that flourishing aspect that you see in Deuteronomy 6 of everything being a blessing, everything coming alive, and that your kids have this deep seated love for the Lord and His scriptures.

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