Between you and me, I have a confession to make: I hardly remember anything I learned in my high school trigonometry class. I also can’t write in cursive very well anymore. I have no idea how to calculate girth (or what girth even is). I still get “affect” and “effect” confused.
I took several Advanced Placement courses: American history, European history, chemistry, physics, etc. I made good grades. I graduated with honors. But I can’t name all the countries in Africa. I don’t remember all of the state capitals. I can’t name all of the kings of France or Britain, much less put them in order. The only chemical formula I understand is “H2O.” I don’t remember most of the state birds I had to memorize for a school competition (except Oklahoma’s, which is the Scissor-tailed flycatcher). I took three years of Spanish, but I only remember a handful of words.
And guess what: I’m not living on the street.
In fact, I’ve got a pretty good job. Sometimes my family splurges and buys the occasional brand-name item from the grocery store. We are living large.
Dear parent, I know you are under immense pressure to make sure your kids are learning a second language, involved in the local play, participating in after-school athletics, enrolled in the honors program, eating nutritious organic meals – all while maintaining a Southern Living-like Facebook profile and Pinterest board. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not minimizing these things. For all you struggling parents like me and my wife who are killing themselves to make sure your kids are prepared for college, keep it up.
But don’t forget to be realistic. Ask yourself, how much are your kids going to remember from school? How much do you remember from school?
In the hustle and bustle of being a responsible parent, don’t forget to teach your kids the things they won’t forget.
Let me tell you what I do happen to remember from my early years. I remember…
…Coming down the stairs after waking up in the morning and seeing my mom reading her Bible.
…My parents picking up people for church who no one else wanted to pick up.
…My mom apologizing to me when she made a mistake.
…My parents having Bible studies (some going late into the night) with Mormons/Jehovah’s Witnesses/Baptists/Catholics (or whoever else happened to knock on our door the day before).
…My dad telling me that I would always be welcome in their house after I moved away, unless I was ever unfaithful to my wife or unfaithful to Christ and had not repented.
…My parents not letting me take a part-time job if my employer wouldn’t give me time-off to go to every church service.
…My dad making dinner sometimes so my mom wouldn’t have to.
…My parents sometimes telling me “no” when I saw something I really wanted.
…My parents showing me tenderness and affection (not “effection,” right?)
…Going on walks with my mom.
…My parents taking me to visit elderly church members.
…My dad making me mow our lawn. With a push mower.
…My mom making me set the table for dinner, followed by washing the dishes. By hand.
…My dad reading to me.
…My dad learning about my unpaid debt to a church member, and forcing me to sell something I really liked in order to pay back the debt.
…My parents having “Bible time” with me, making me recite the books of the Bible, countless verses, the twelve sons of Jacob, the apostles, the judges, the plan of salvation, etc. I couldn’t forget those things today, even if I tried.
You want to give your children the best education money can buy. But while honor rolls, athletics, and other extra-curricular activities are well and good, they aren’t the most important thing you can give your children. If your children learn to speak French, but don’t leave your house loving Jesus and His Kingdom above everything else, what have they really gained?
There are only a few things in life that actually matter. Prioritize the stuff that will get them to heaven. The rest will fall into place.
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