The Thessalonians Prescription
by Virginia Knowles
One day I found an excellent Bible passage that I think really talks about how we must work on daily to reach our children’s hearts with spiritual truth. I use 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 to evaluate my effectiveness as a mom, and to give me the perfect prescription for getting our lives back in balance. This is not a “one shot deal” – we all need to be renewed in these things continually, whether we are adults or children. I find a deep need to cry out to God to restore this kind of reverent order and fervor in my family. We are in spiritual warfare for the hearts of our children, and since we so easily forget that in the fog of daily life, we also get distracted from what is really, truly, vitally important in mothering. As a mother of 10 who has traveled this road for nearly two decades (and still has a long way to go), I plead with you to pay careful attention to what the Lord is saying here and apply it to your own family:
“Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.”
Based on this passage, I developed a checklist to evaluate my own progress in nurturing my children in the Lord:
A Checklist for Home School Moms
1. Do I take the time to cultivate a reverent, fervent, joyful heart and home life?
2. Do I work hard to provide spiritual leadership through good example and teaching?
3. Do I require my children to show proper respect toward both parents?
4. Do I keep my children busy doing good things?
5. In my pursuit to teach my children independent living and learning, do I patiently exhort those who refuse to work, encourage those who lack confidence, and help those truly need direct assistance?
6. Do I seek to be a peacemaker by encouraging kindness and prohibiting revenge?
7. Do I give thanks in all circumstances, knowing God will bring good from them?
8. Do I eliminate influences and activities which are not the best for my family?
9. Do I teach my children to discern good from evil and to seek God’s will for their own lives?
10. When I see God’s Spirit beginning to work in my child, do I avoid quenching this progress with my own impatience and perfectionism?
11. Do I pray earnestly and continually for my children?
Daily discipleship -- for ourselves and for our children --needs to be the focus of any true education in our family. When Mom’s heart is nurtured through abiding in Christ, she can handle the challenges of the day better. Having a tender heart toward the Lord cultivates a more tender heart toward our children. But being tender doesn’t mean being a wimpy Mom, and letting them walk all over you with disrespect. Even if you don’t feel adequate to be respected by your children, even if your life is not always the best example for your children to emulate, and even if they blatantly challenge you, don’t abdicate your authority as parent! Again, this is tied to your own spiritual life. When you are strong in the Lord, you will have the strength to be tough when necessary. If they don’t learn basic reverence for God and respect for parents, you will experience great difficulty with each passing year. However, when children’s hearts are cooperative and teachable, you will have peace in the home, and they will learn academic skills much easier. Sometimes it seems like a sacrifice to lay aside my own individual interests to invest the necessary time, energy, and love into my children, but the blessings are abundant and the rewards are eternal. It forces me to lean hard on God and cry out to him for the divine wisdom and strength that only he can provide! As we all lay aside the old attitudes and methods that have hindered us, may God renew our minds so we can aim for the heart.
(This is an excerpt from my book The Real Life Home School Mom, which is available for free download in the sidebar of my main blog, http://www.virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/.)