As we go through our years of training to become educators we learn there are various "Learning Styles". Among the styles of learning are those people who learn visually, those who learn, though listening, who learn through music, who learn when everything around them is silent. Some people learn best when snacking or having something to drink near-by. Many people are a combination of the different learning styles.
These learning styles apply to what we teach in the classrooms. What about what the children need in their day-to-day lives? What they do need in their spiritual lives? What really matters is how will they live their lives?
Children really learn best by examples. Children do not learn correctly by the "Do as I say, not as I do method". Child learn best by correct examples.
One of the earliest rules for teaching comes from Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."
As we teach, direct, and train, our children, they learn by our examples. When they are very little they learn speech from us. We spend countless hours repeating the words we want them to first say, "Da-da" Ma-ma". We crawl for them as we teach them crawling. They watch us walk as they begin to walk. So much of their early learning is imitation. When we laugh at something they do, they do it again. If it's funny to us, it must be funny, even if it's wrong. I can remember at age 14 laughing at something a young cousin did that was funny but unacceptable. I was quickly reprimanded and told if I laugh at him, he would never learn. I had to set the example for him.
As children get older, we teach them the ways of the LORD, the Ten Commandments. We teach them these are the right ways to live their lives. We show them that Jesus lived his life by these same Commandments. He was the only perfect one! He made the right choices. As we instruct our children in the way of the LORD, are we teaching them the right way?
But we cannot just tell them what the Bible says, we must show them by our examples. Jesus taught by example. When he said, "Let the children come to me" (Matthew 19:14) it was after the parents had been bringing the children to him for Him to bless them. Jesus lead by example when he spent time in prayer away from His disciples (Luke 6:12)
Just as Christ led by example, we too must lead by example. We must teach by example. We must teach that our children need to make the RIGHT choice, which is not always the best choice. The best choice for a 5th grade student might not always be the right one.
I'm glad Christ made the RIGHT choice for me when he stayed on the cross through all the pain and suffering. It might not have been the best choice for those watching Him suffer, but for all of us who will one day spend eternity with Him - I thank Him that He chose me!
This week after chapel Mr. Markworth mentioned the acronym I often use: J.O.Y. which stands for J - Jesus O - Others Y - Yourself. As he spoke to the children about this I began to think about how these words relate to the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments can be separated into two groups:
1. Those that tell us how to follow with God - #1-3
2. Those that tell us how to live with others - #4 - 10
The Ten Commandments don't give us instructions as to how to deal with ourselves. I find this interesting that we are told in the Ten Commandments to put God First and then others. Nowhere in the Ten Commandments are we given instructions on how to treat ourselves.
We are only given three Commandments on how to live with God, (granted they are three very important Commandments) and seven Commandments on how to live with others.
I find it even more interesting when we look closely at the Commandments that God has provided for us in them. He has given us a third part of JOY in these Commandments. Of course, the obvious is there, if we live in harmony with God (Jesus) and others we will have a much better life for ourselves. But let's look closely at two of the Commandments, one that deals with our relationship with God and one that deals with our relationship with others.
In the Third Commandment, we are told to "Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it Holy". This is not just about worshiping God. It is also about resting and finding rest in God. Genesis 2:3 tells us that God blessed the seventh day and made it holy and tells He rested. He set the example. By giving this Commandment for us to follow, He is showing us how to take care of ourselves (the YOU part of JOY). Jesus also says in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
In the Fourth Commandment, we are told to "Honor your Father and Mother that you may live long on the earth." This is the first Commandment with a promise (Ephesians 6:1-3). Again, our LORD is looking out for us, taking care of us. I like that! Some of us have parents that are easy to honor. I know I do! I've been blessed with exceptional parents. I know others who haven't, yet these friends continue to honor their parents, in various ways. While the life of these friends isn't always peaceful, these friends have had peace when their parents passed away. They have peace in the examples they set for their children. They didn't have the "guilt" feelings many others did. They knew they were not only honoring their parents, but more importantly, they were honoring their LORD. This Commandment also has to do with honoring those in authority, sometimes a much harder action for us. Remember, our outward behavior often reflects our inner heart.
I find it amazing, that as we focus first on our LORD and then on others we are then taken care of. That brings true JOY in our lives.
The LORD truly is our Good Shepherd. He gives us all we need. We just need to look to His rules for the guidance we need. We can find the JOY we need by putting Jesus first Others second and.....last.
During this past week in the classroom we have been discussing how we are expected to live our lives as followers of Christ.
Growing up I was known in our community by my last name as well as my mother's maiden name. These names carried a special meaning. My mother's father was well known and well respected as were my parents. To be known as their child or grandchild carried great weight and responsibility. In our church being know as "Dorothy's daughter" also carried great responsibility. There was a lot to live up to and it was (as is) with joy that I followed the examples set by those who went before me. One of the joys of my life growing up was whenever someone said "you're just like your mother or just like your father."
When I married, I took on my husband's name with great joy, although my maiden name was very special. My husband's name of Helmling carried great respect as well. My husband set a great example for his children of giving to others. His faith in our LORD was amazing and often he strengthened mine. It was with joy and pride I took this name in 1991.
Both of the last names that I have carried throughout my life have inspired me to be the best person I can be. They have reminded me of those who have gone before me and I often think, "what would______ do?" when deciding.
But neither of these names carry the weight of the greatest name I as given on my Baptism. I was given the name CHRISTIAN just six short weeks after my birth, when my parents took me to the Baptismal Font at Nazareth Lutheran Church in Buffalo, NY and Rev. Paul Barth Baptized me in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He asked my parents & godparents those important questions about raising me in the faith of our LORD. They not only answered they would raise me as a CHRISTIAN, but they raised me this way; not just in their words but in their deeds. My parents set the examples by their actions. They raised their three daughters with the "Do what I say because this is what I do" not the "do what I say not what I do" way of life.
One of the greatest differences with my earthly names and my heavenly name of CHRISTIAN is that while I have the earthly examples to follow, these are flawed individuals and people will attempt to tear them and me down when I use them as my only examples. However, when I fix my eyes upon Jesus I will be able to endure that which comes my way and not lose heart (Hebrews 12:2-3). While I may not always be accepted for following the path our LORD has laid out for me, I know that my name of CHRISTIAN will lead me to my heavenly home. The home the LORD has prepared for me (John 14:3-4).
This is what we have been discussing in the classroom. Our names in Christ are what makes us who we are. If we base our reputation on what Christ has told us and shown us to live, we will only have to answer to HIM.
As it says in Romans 8:31-32 If God is for us, who can be against us?
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us,who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Vicki Helmling is a teacher at Grace English Lutheran School