PREPARING OUR CHILDREN FOR LIFE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL — AND WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH CHRISTMAS ANYWAY?
Preparation is a huge part of Parenthood. Joseph and Mary had to prepare the way for Jesus’ birth by traveling to Bethlehem, and once he was born, they were entrusted to raise Him in a way that was honoring and pleasing to God. Just like parents today, Joseph and Mary had no step-by-step instruction manual – they had to figure it out as they went along. Thankfully, parents today can look to the Bible for insight on raising Godly children and preparing for their future. Here are five ways we can imitate Christ in preparing our students for life after high school:
- Cultivate a strong work ethic. Even though the Bible doesn’t explicitly say it, Jesus probably worked in Joseph’s shop. As a carpenter’s son, he would have been expected to learn the family trade and to help provide for his family until he began his ministry. Work prepares our children for their future by teaching them:
- Responsibility – by doing chores or summer jobs, students learn that they are accountable to others. This also helps build stronger family bonds as everyone pitches in to get things done.
- Time management and learning how to say, “No,” in order to balance a schedule. Sometimes that means saying no to ‘good’ things in order that a greater ‘good’ can be accomplished.
- Appreciation for what they have earned instead of contempt for what has been “handed” to them. We all remember how much more we valued the things we purchased with our own money – it is a gratifying experience and makes one grateful for the blessings in life.
Work helps students to recognize and develop their strengths.
- Teach Time & Money Management. There are many verses throughout the Bible that discuss stewardship. Jesus, himself, provides a perfect example of time management, as he consistently split his time between prayer with the Father and ministering to others. Here are some ways we can teach our students about time & money management:
- Budgeting – creating a budget with our students will teach them about the reality of debt and loans – looking at long-term implications and learning to be a good steward of what God entrusts to us.
- Setting up bank accounts.
- Taking responsibility for financial transactions and focusing on saving up for large ticket items, where practical, are good ways to practice skills learned in consumer math type courses. Finally, living these principals out in the real world, such as shopping for the best deal and knowing when to say no to a particular purchase, enables our children to avoid possible debt traps.
Management also encompasses budgeting time in certain allotments, scheduling work/school/recreation opportunities and learning balance across these areas. Obviously, all this must be done in light of prioritizing God and family above all else.
- Engage Curious Minds. Have you ever wondered why Jesus used parables to get his point across instead of answering questions directly? By responding in parables, Jesus gives his followers a great gift: discovery. When we take time to think critically about things, we connect with the material in a way that is much more powerful than if someone just gives us an answer. You can engage your students by:
- Encouraging the questions that cultivate critical thinking (example: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How)
- Addressing social issues together from a Biblical perspective.
This mindset assists in supporting logical argumentation and learning to support opinions with facts. A Biblical worldview incorporates logical reasoning with the truth of God’s Word to form a complete understanding of our world.
- Encourage Ownership. Jesus was fully engaged in the work of the ministry; He wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, and he took opportunities to do things for others that he could have easily delegated to his disciples. An often-overlooked example of this was His commission of the 70 to go out and preach. He gave parameters but then sent them out to tackle the actual mission. Similarly, you can encourage ownership of the college selection process in your students by:
- Having your child make the necessary phone calls and inquiry through various sources.
- Having them write the letters to search and apply for admission and scholarships.
- Making the research of college and majors a project and have them use the critical thinking skills and research capabilities you have instilled in them to complete the work. This can go a long way toward narrowing your list of colleges to consider and determine how much your child will need to save toward college expenses.
- Praying with your child for wisdom and guidance throughout the process.
When we allow students to be fully involved in the admissions process, we give them an opportunity to become invested in their education.
- Pray for a Teachable Heart. Jesus spent time as a boy in the temple engaging the scribes and Pharisees in conversation. Even though He was God’s son, He took the time to listen and learn. Take the time to sit down with your student to help them:
- Develop goals – Only God-given goals are worth pursuing and if He has called your child to something, he will provide the strength to complete the task. Philippians 4:13 states, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
- Create a plan – Be a diligent planner in correct correlation to God’s will in order to meet their goals. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance…”
- Follow His lead – Allow God to direct their steps. In Proverbs 16:9, the Bible tells us, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”
Jesus had a teachable heart, that’s why he spent three days in the temple questioning the scribes and Pharisees. The Bible makes it plain that inquiry is a spiritual pursuit, so it is a natural progression for our children to seek guidance.
So, what does preparing our students for the future have to do with Christmas? As parents, we want to give our children good gifts, and this Christmas, one of the best gift parents can give their children is a good foundation on which to build their future.
By Dr. Tim Rees and Kendra LaGreca who both serve in the admissions department of Erskine College in Due West, SC
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