The Higher Seat of Learning

Recently our family all enjoyed being together for the holidays of Christmas and New Year’s Day. It meant a great deal as this was the first year we had grandchildren. Last year we expected their birth. This year we got to enjoy their presence.

We enjoyed meal times together as we used to when my children lived at home. They wondered why we bought such a large dining table several years ago. I told them that one day they would bring home their spouses and their own children and we would need a large table for everyone to eat together. That time has finally arrived.

Our grandson is the older of the two at just six months. As we gathered around the table for a meal, we put him in the exact same high chair that we had put his father in at the exact same age. I commented to my daughter-in-law, “That’s the same age your husband was when we began to read the Bible every day.” Her response was, “That’s why he knows the Bible backwards and forwards.” She was right.

When he was six months old, my wife and I began reading the Bible out loud after breakfast. I was about to begin my first semester of seminary. We decided that if I was to be a minister, the Bible had better be important to us. We ate breakfast each morning then we read from the Bible and a devotional magazine. Our son sat there in his high chair taking it all in. Two sisters came along later and we continued the practice, the same high chair and the same habit.

Before I attended seminary I taught high school. In my studies for my license I learned there was a great deal of controversy over when children should become ready for school. The consensus was that Kindergarten was too late. Children needed to be prepared before that. Similar reasoning lay behind the rationale for educational programs such as Sesame Street. Start the kids early, give them a head start.

The higher seat of education begins even before that. As I wrote several months ago, children begin to acquire language skills at a very early age. Our two grandchildren (Six and five months as of this writing) are already trying to make communication sounds besides just crying. Children can begin learning at a much earlier age than even pre-school.

Education needs to begin for them while in the high chair. Our children began to absorb our values as they grew. They learned to speak our language and they learned our morals. We did not have to “preach” at them. As they matured, they began to ask questions. One day before our son’s fourth birthday, he asked me, “What’s God’s name?” Quite astute for a preschooler! As they grew older we were able to discuss biblical values and they learned to have a biblical worldview.

I am not talking about home schooling. All of our kids graduated from Lovington High at the top of their classes. They all went to college and again graduated at the top of their classes. We never had problems with the “teen-age rebellion” years. They always went to church (because I was the pastor), but even in college they attended church; and after college, they still attend. They did not “lose their religion” even though two of them went to secular schools.

They were by no means perfect. We had struggles helping them to get along with each other. They had to do their chores. They squabbled at times and sometimes still do even as adults.

There are some things that I regret not teaching them. Although I am fluent in Spanish, I did not teach them to speak Spanish at home. None of them shares my fluency. I play the guitar, but I am by no means a Chet Atkins, (Who?) I did not teach them to play guitar, however they have tried to pick it up on their own.

I will never regret that I taught them the Bible or how to become a follower of Christ. I will never regret having read the Bible to them and taken them to church. The may never become UN interpreters or classical concert-quality guitarists, but they have a biblical outlook on life. Now my prayer is that they will pass that legacy on to our grandchildren.

It is never too early to begin with your children, but if you wait too long, it can become too late. Remember the words of admonition found in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” And also from Ephesians 6:4, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

Do not just send your children to church on the bus. Take them, and sit with them. Get a devotional magazine at church. Begin reading the Bible to them every day. You will not regret it.