“Children are a heritage of the Lord”—Psalm 127:3, NIV. He owns them because He created them and He redeemed them through His death on Calvary. They are His offspring, and through them He expects His legacy to continue. He has made us stewards of His heritage so that we can teach them and give them the necessary tools to grow in grace before God and before humanity.
As stewards, our responsibility is to nurture them, teach them be creative, to care for others, to have moral courage, to think critically, to persevere, to speak well, to write well, to read well, and to work well with numbers—literacy and numeracy skills. “Parents, preachers, and teachers are called upon to be proactive, rather than reactive, as they partner together in developing spiritual champions for the kingdom of God on earth. . . . Good offense is often the best defense. And good defense is done by integrating faith and learning in the home, church, and school, which are the most important learning centers for children. In God’s plan of education that He established in the Garden of Eden, the home was both church and school; the school was both home and church; and the church was both home and school.”1 The interaction of the home, church, and school is the key to molding the character of our children, awakening, and stimulating their God-given potential
There is a cosmic battle being fought between good and evil. Satan wants to kidnap our children. We cannot allow this to happen. He uses all sorts of tricks (television sitcoms, cartoons, video games, smart phones, iPods, iPads, DVDs, and more) to see if he can lure them away from us. Those mediums are like food for the hungry. When children are absorbed in them, they find it very hard to tear themselves away, but become restless if they spend one hour in church listening to God’s Word.
We have a divine imperative to protect our children at all costs. And it may cost us more now to use the technology as teaching tools, rather than demonize them. We are to rule over our children, which connotes that we are to have authority over them. We cannot risk allowing them to be educated merely by the sitcoms, cartoons, video games, smart phones, iPods, iPads or DVDs. Technology has good things that it can offer our children, but it is our responsibility to ensure that what they are viewing, listening to, or playing is sowing good seeds in their hearts and minds. Parenting with a purpose means that as parents, as a church, as teachers we are intentionally involving ourselves in the lives of our children.
Children, by nature, are positively “‘Christo-tropic’—they respond to God naturally, even as a growing bean sprout responds to light. Hence, God’s call to the tri-village of parents, pastors, and teachers: ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me’ (Mark 10:14). The children will come to God if the tri-village of caregivers, who are God’s representatives to them, entreat and don’t hinder them”2
The manual that was given by God is clear in its instructions on how to raise children, and how to integrate faith and learning into their education. We are told what they should learn at home, at church, and at school. “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children”—Isaiah 54:13, NKJV. If we ensure that God’s Word is written in their hearts and minds, we will have fulfilled our mission and they will define the future and be our most significant legacy.
Marlene Alvarez is the Atlantic Union Conference assistant director for early childhood education and care and the certification registrar.
1 Peril and Promise: Adventist Education at the Crossroads, p. 30
2 Ibid., pp. 32, 33