Some of the most influential people in our lives are those that teach us. We have a deep sense of gratitude for the lessons, truths and skills they have helped us to learn. Especially as we grow older we realize the major contribution they have made in our lives. This is one of the reasons teaching is so crucial in leaving a legacy of godliness that lasts in the hearts of your children; we remember and are grateful for those that have taught us.
We have been following God’s pattern for leaving a lasting legacy as given in the Bible from Deuteronomy 4:9-10. From that passage we clearly see that influence comes from (1) a personal example and (2) practical teaching. Both of them are important.
Also, we discovered that all teaching does not produce equal results. The teaching God speaks of in Deuteronomy 4 is intentional and not oriented primarily towards facts, but centered around our own spiritual journey. In other words, we are teaching out of the overflow of our lives as parents.
I want to emphasize another aspect of effective teaching in this post. It is not only to be done intentionally, but also diligently. God’s Word clearly enunciates that our teaching is to be given with diligence in the passage below that is directed towards parents.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)
How do we teach with diligence? The word “diligently” (6:7) means “to sharpen a cutting instrument by using a whetting stone”. It speaks of teaching that leaves a mark on us and is remembered. It includes the idea of effectiveness and leaving an impact with clear results. This means that it was prepared teaching. It takes time to sharpen a knife and it takes time to be creative and thoughtful in how you are going to teach your children about God and His ways.
Many years ago I was teaching my children when they were very young about the omniscience of God and the practical application that He not only knows our thoughts, but that He thinks about us as His children and loves us. The Bible states that God’s thoughts toward us are “are more in number than the sand” (Psalm 139:17-18).
I went out and found some sand somewhere and Paula got black construction paper for each child (just three of them at the time). I poured an equal amount of sand on each piece of the construction paper (it was black so each grain of sand was easily visible). So, now Jeremiah, Jonathan, and Ashley each had their own small pile of sand on top of the construction paper.
I told them that I wanted them to count each grain of sand and notify me when they were finished. Incredibly, they began to earnestly count the sand in front of them. After a couple of minutes they began to object, “This is impossible; we can’t do this, Dad”. I encouraged them to stay at it and see how far they could get. Obviously, we stopped the project shortly after that. I quizzed them on why they couldn’t count the sand on their paper and they said, “It’s impossible. No one can do that – to count accurately each individual grain of the sand”. Then, I opened the Bible to Psalm 139:17-18 and taught the lesson on how God’s thoughts about us were more than all of the grains of sand on all the seashores. An abstract concept became concrete to them by a very simple object lesson.
This is what it means to teach with diligence. It leaves a mark and is remembered. Our teaching doesn’t have to be boring, but we have to work at it to make an impact. It took a lot more time for me to get the things for the project to teach the lesson than it did to actually give the lesson. But it is worth it if it is effective.
Perhaps you are protesting in your mind right now and saying, “But I’m not that creative; I don’t come up with ideas that easy”. Let me make a confession: the project with the sand and construction paper wasn’t my idea. I read it somewhere else and used it for my own children. You don’t have to be a creative genius to be an effective teacher…..but you do have to be diligent and serious about it. Very few people are creative, but all of us can adapt or even imitate what others have done so that our teaching might hit the mark – and be remembered.
It’s really not an option to do it any other way. God has commanded us to teach our children “diligently”. He does so because He knows it is worthwhile. This is a key component in establishing a legacy that honors the Lord. It will leave an impact that will stay with them.
Put the same amount of work into teaching your children about our great God as you do at your job or in your hobbies. Learn to major on becoming a “diligent” teacher. Yes, I know it’s a lot of work, but one day you will be glad you did so. Some will attribute your legacy to luck, but it was because of God’s grace and His honoring your diligence to make it happen.
The poet wrote:
“He worked by day
And toiled by night.
He gave up play
And some delight.
Dry books he read,
New things to learn.
And forged ahead
Success to earn.
He plodded on
With faith and pluck.
And when he won
Others called it luck.”