The Master Teacher shows us by example that training is necessary to effect change, growth, and development, and we are also admonished to train up our children in the way that they should go.
Throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, God has provided various symbols, methods, and lessons to develop our character into one that reflects Christ’s character and prepares us for citizenship in His kingdom. He shows us how sin separates and breaks our relationship with Him, but He has also given us hope in the promise of a Redeemer, a glimpse of the day when everything will end on this earth, and what is in store for those who remain faithful.
God asks us to begin training children from the moment they are born, because He knows that impressions for life are formed at an early age and there are forces which are influencing a child’s development. The purpose of Seventh-day Adventist education is to assist in the formation of human development toward God’s objective. Seventh-day Adventist education is the means whereby we furnish children with the necessary awareness of God, and help to shape their response to His Word so that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, they can come to accept Christ as their Savior.
Additionally, Seventh-day Adventist education is here to prepare the children not only for this world but, more importantly, for eternity. “It is the work of true education to develop this power, to train the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men’s thought. Instead of confining their study to that which men have said or written, let students be directed to the sources of truth, to the vast fields opened for research in nature and revelation. Let them contemplate the great facts of duty and destiny, and the mind will expand and strengthen”—Education, p. 17.
God has commanded the home and the church to educate the children. The school is also to serve as an extension of both of those entities to carry out the mandate to teach them. Parents begin this education at home with their children (see Genesis 18:19, Deuteronomy 6:7, Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4, and 2 Timothy 1:5), and God holds parents responsible for this important duty. But He also knew that they could not do it alone, and like a three-legged stool that needs all three legs to be stable, the church and the school assist the parents to complete the process.
God equips the pastors as they stand in the pulpit and minister for Him, and He equips the teachers as they stand in the classrooms as His ministers, representing Him to each student. Parents, pastors, and teachers working together can teach and reach each one of these precious children for Jesus.
Working together to follow the blueprint and the mandate set by God, we help the students to discover God’s love, understand His plan of salvation, and help prepare a generation of leaders for now and for eternity. Ellen White reminds us, “True education means more than the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and the whole period of existence possible to man. In the highest sense, the work of education and the work of redemption are one”—Education, p. 21.
Let us, therefore, work together to follow the mandate God has given us as we await the soon coming of the Master Teacher.
Marlene Alvarez is the Atlantic Union Conference associate director of education and children’s ministries.