Recently, I had an opportunity to provide some professional development for the teachers at an AACS school in Virginia. We spent three hours one day taking a very quick overview of the Christian philosophy of education. I have had many opportunities to present to teachers on this topic, and from my study I have developed a presentation that asks and answers eleven foundational questions. The third question in the series is “Who has ownership of children?” The Bible answers that question in Ezekiel 18:4, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine.” Children are owned by God, and God has first claim upon their lives.
The sixth question in the series is “Who is responsible for educating?” If God is the owner, then He can tell us who is responsible for educating children. The Magna Carta of Christian education is Deuteronomy 6:6–7, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children.” Paul writes in Ephesians 6:4, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
The Old Testament and the New Testament together are clear that parents are given stewardship of children and are charged with the responsibility of teaching biblical truth to their children. But parents are not solely given a stewardship and a responsibility to teach. In Acts 20:28, Paul instructs church elders, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God.”
You would have a hard time making a case for the exclusion of children from Paul’s (and others’) charge to the church to teach. In fact, Christ’s warnings indicate a much higher standard of care and protection for the littlest ones in the flock. Matthew 18:6 states, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
The word teach occurs 108 times in the King James Version of the Bible. Parents are told four times to teach children spiritual truth. A spiritual leader such as an Old Testament prophet or a New Testament elder is told 33 times to teach. We’re ignoring a lot of scripture if we determine that the state is responsible for educating children or that teaching children is only or exclusively a parent’s responsibility.
Children are a stewardship from God. A pastor or teacher or coach is not an owner; he is a steward. A parent is not an owner; he is a steward. Think about what it means to be a steward of the King’s child.
I am a steward of the King’s child. . .
- I am responsible to protect and nurture his physical and spiritual development.
- I am responsible to equip him with the knowledge and skills needed to serve and lead effectively. If I provide the King’s child with an education that does not equip him to lead in his time and culture, I have failed my stewardship.
- I am responsible to help him recognize and develop his unique God-given gifts and abilities. Those gifts might be musical, physical, academic, or other. Those gifts might even be those things others call disabilities. The King’s child is a unique creation of God.
- I am responsible to see that his education is provided by those who are best equipped in my community to provide that training. I will search out the best model and the best teacher to provide his academic training, to coach his physical development, and to nurture his other gifts. I will always remember Luke 6:40, “Every one that is perfect [finished] shall be as his master [teacher].”
- I will gladly invest whatever part of my resources must be spent to care for and train this child. The child and everything I have belong to the King.
My students are not mine; they belong to the King. As a steward of His children, I will accept my responsibilities and invest my best, remembering always that God has the first claim on their lives.
How has the stewardship mindset impacted your school or classroom? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Copyright Journal for Christian Educators, Fall 2013 edition. Reprinted with permission of the American Association of Christian Schools.