My father passed away in November. It hit me much harder than I expected. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to respond to it and I’m still not sure. When he died I was given the opportunity to say a few words at his funeral. Thinking about him in preparation for that got me thinking about my own role as a father.
PURPOSE OF A PARENT
What I asked at his funeral I now ask you: What is the purpose of a parent?
Parents have a lot of responsibilities thrown on their plates, but, what is the ultimate goal of parents. I believe the ultimate role of a parent is really the ultimate role of all people: to image God. We are creatures created to image God in Jesus Christ. Every person has been placed on this earth to mirror God to this world but especially to the Church. Every Christian can uniquely image God as they use their life and spiritual gifts to reflect Him.
But parents have an especially unique opportunity.
HOW DOES GOD PARENT US?
How often is God described as our parent? God is regularly described as being motherly towards His people:
- He is the God who gave His people birth (Deuteronomy 32:18).
- He is the God who has nursed His children from infancy “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” Quote?
- Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:15-16)
Jesus describes Himself as a mother hen toward the people of Israel:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37)
But we also know that God is our great Heavenly Father: He is the Father who accepts the prodigal son’s return (Luke 15).
He is the Father who has adopted us as children (Galatians 4) and who has made us co-heirs with Christ.
Clearly God is a parent.
ONE MAIN RESPONSIBILITY
You, me — we — then have one main responsibility and task on this earth: to represent God to our children. When our children look at us, they should be seeing what God is like.
Now, specifically, as this applies to education, what I want to encourage you to do is the most difficult part of your job and the most important thing you can do —
Do not give up.
We recently held a conference on dyslexia. I thought it appropriate to share a little of my own childhood as it relates to what I’m trying to say.
DO NOT GIVE UP
I have dyslexia. I couldn’t read until the third grade. My parents found out because they discovered me hiding books under my bed, crying. When they asked me what I was doing I confessed that I couldn’t see anything on the pages the other kids could see. I was just memorizing what was being said and saying it back.
It was then that I was diagnosed with dyslexia. I can’t even tell you all the different things my parents did to help me. The tutoring sessions and the help I got, all the time and energy that went into helping me. My parents decided not to tell the public school I had it, so I would not be labeled, instead, they invested hours and hours outside of class helping me.
In high school, I really didn’t enjoy reading or math, where it really affected me, and maybe read one full book a year. I could just fake everything else. When I went to college, I couldn’t fake it anymore and started to do very poorly, almost not making it.
Through a series of circumstances, but primarily as a result of the Lord’s grace, I am where I am today. I love reading; I’m working on my doctorate, and I think school is the greatest.
NOT NECESSARILY THE TOOLS
I’ve recently been trying to determine why exactly I was able to succeed. What curriculum was used and what methods or study tools or whatever were used to make sure I could get where I am. Honestly, I don’t remember any of that. I don’t remember what my parents did with me or what they tried to teach me. I couldn’t tell you any of those things.
But what I can tell you is that my parents never gave up on me. When teachers told my parents I wasn’t going to make it in college my parents saw something more. When they said I couldn’t be as smart as my classmates, my parents saw something more. Sure, they were looking through totally biased eyes, but when others were ready to give up on me my parents refused.
Isn’t this one of the best ways we parents can image God?
GOD DOES NOT GIVE UP
No matter how sinful His people are, God will not give up on them. He is the God who holds us in the palm of His hands and will never let go. He is the God who will leave the 99 to find the one. He is the God who sent His own Son to seek and save the lost.
In another passage in which God’s parental role is described, Isaiah 43:4, says,
“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”
Our God will not give up on us.
WHAT WILL OUR CHILDREN REMEMBER?
So, is there one way that is better to help a dyslexic kid? I’m sure there is. Is there some curriculum that is better than others? Yes, I think so. Is there a better way to do Tuesday/Thursday homework? Possibly.
But what will our children remember of us? Will they remember what curriculum they did or the homework that week or whatever other system we want to implement? Maybe. But it seems much more likely they will remember whether or not they saw God in you — whether you kept fighting for their education, kept fighting for them to learn, kept fighting for them to grow into godly men and women.
Let us be parents, let me be a father, who perseveres, that we would not give up on our students because, praise to His glorious grace, our God has never given up on us.