Parents, Don’t Waste Your Summer!
Have you ever seen someone utterly fail on a game show? Like, they completely blew the opportunity of winning BIG? I loved watching Who Wants to be a Millionaire growing up. On the show, contestants would answer a series of questions, progressively winning more money as the show went on. The questions get harder, but to aid the contestant on the show, they were given a few “helps” along the way. The best help in my opinion was the phone a friend. Using this aid would allow the contestant to call a friend and potentially get the answer to a hard question. It is heartbreaking though when the friend gives them the right answer and the contestant chooses to ignore their counsel and as they say, go with their gut. The contestant goes with their “gut” and ends up losing everything! If only they had listened to their friend, they would still be in the game and on the path to win one million dollars!
If you are a parent, you know it doesn’t matter what the age is, your student struggles to listen to you. You might not know everything, but you do know a lot of things! A lot of your student’s heartaches could be avoided if only they had listened to you along the way. Some might be in a better position to earn a million dollars if they would heed your advice and finish their math homework on time!
When school is done for the summer, you are given a great opportunity to invest in your student in new ways. You may have the opportunity to build credibility in your student’s life in ways you may not have thought of before or may have neglected in the past.
I want to draw your attention to Ephesians 6:1-2. The text says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise).” I don’t know if you have used this verse on your students before, but chances are you have or you have heard it yourselves. Ephesians 6:1-2 is heavily cited by parents to instill obedience in their children. Sadly, this beautiful passage is taken out of context at times to promote a behavior modification rather than invested heart transformation. In other words, parents use this verse to issue orders without caring what their student’s heart condition is while following them.
Does Paul really mean for children to blindly follow their parents without question and not talk back to them? Obedience is important, but I believe if we were to understand Paul’s use of the Old Testament passage he quotes here, in context, we might land on different conclusions of this text. More than that, we may gain some tools in our belt to aid us in our endeavor to not waste our summer this year.
Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 5:16 in Ephesians 6:1-2. I don’t know how experienced you are in the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament, but it is beautiful and affirming that our Bibles are truly one great story of redemption. That being said, if you were to read Deuteronomy 5:15, all of chapter 5, and Deuteronomy as a whole, you would see Moses has something more in mind then just general obedience.
Paul quotes Moses in his exposition of how family members should interact with each other. Paul spends the better half of Ephesians 5 explaining how the husband’s and wife’s roles should mirror Christ and the church, but pivots when he talks about children. He demands that children obey their parents—but in association with honoring their parents—and following Yahweh. Paul doesn’t want blind followers; he wants ongoing faithfulness in the home to continue.
Deuteronomy 5 is right in the middle of Moses addressing Israel over how they are not supposed to be like previous generations who disobeyed God. Rather, they are called to follow God’s law and pass it down to their children. The promise associated in this text is that Israel will be in the land. The land represents rest—being with God. Paul and Moses both want families to model a heart that loves the Lord and teaches the generations to love the Lord.
Now we come to your summer. How do you plan on using it? Do you regularly plan to attend Sunday morning services or are you gone most weekends? Will you regularly serve others in the local church or will you spend your time with vacations and “me time”? Parents, this summer you can lead your students to follow you in obedience by being people who have modeled obedience yourselves.
Do you prioritize the things Jesus does? Are you going to use your summer of extra freedom to disciple your students to value those things too? As a youth minister, one of the hardest conversations I’ve had with parents is discussing how their student hasn’t found a church in college. The student seems to always sleep in or fill their weekends with other things. There are many ways we can find fault in the student for their bad choices. But one reason that is often overlooked, and that I believe is the most common for why the student doesn’t take finding a church seriously in college, is because the parent didn’t take it seriously at home. Parents, what you do in moderation your student will do to excess. As Christians, we are the visible representation of the invisible God. What you win your student with is what you win them to.
Paul and Moses both command children to honor their parents but honoring their parents according to Moses is following in their parents’ footsteps by keeping the commandments of God. To honor someone for Moses is to become like them. Your student’s obedience toward you should reflect your obedience to Christ.
Don’t waste your summer. This summer you’ve been given a great gift from Christ to disciple your students. I want to encourage you to look at your summer and be honest with yourself: are you prioritizing the right things in your life and in your student’s life? Below I want to give you some helpful suggestions on things that I believe will help your family not waste your summer.
Parents, don’t waste your summer. Give your students something worth honoring. Prioritize the commandments of God. Seek to disciple them toward Christ. Share with them your growth and journey in the faith. Lead your students to know you care about the local church more than any other thing on your calendar because Christ cares about the church that way. Don’t waste your summer!