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 (Manna 21: To the End of the Earth)
Mum and Dad, What Shall I Be?
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REMEMBER DORIS DAY’S “Que Sera, Sera”? What if your own little kid comes up to you and asks, “What shall I be?” What is the single most important thing you would impart to your child?

You do not need to drive into your child the necessity of earning living. Society will do that for you. At every turn, newspapers, magazines, movies, television and radio glamorise the making of money. Almost everybody loves money and so loves to talk about money — how to get it, what to do with it or who has it.

You also do not need to push your child to study hard. The very day your child steps into a classroom, he is already on a conveyor belt that goes at an ever increasing speed until he reaches the other end with a degree or until he drops out.

Strangely, many Christian parents, like other parents, stress the importance of a good career and a good education when it is totally unnecessary to do so. ‘What does God want Christian parents to tell their children?

First we must understand this fact: Children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalms 127:3). Your child belongs to God. God makes you a guardian and places the child under your care. Your child is not yours for you to mould as you desire. Your child is not an extension of yourself to fulfil your dreams. Your child is God’s heritage for you to bring up in the way of the Lord to achieve this supreme plan. From the beginning this was God’s charge to Abraham as a parent:

            “I have chosen him, that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice; so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has promised hi m.” (Genesis 18:19)

Note that God did not charge Abraham to charge his children to get milk and honey. Abraham was to charge his children to keep the way of the Lord and they will be blessed with a land flowing with milk and honey as the Lord had promised.

The same charge was laid upon the nation of Israel when Moses repeated the laws of God in the wilderness:

            “And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk to them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

This same charge now applies to you as a parent. When you are with your kids, what do you talk about? Asaph the psalmist says:

            ”Tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders which He has wrought....so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.” (Psalms 78.4-7)

Emphasize the way of the Lord. Impress in the mind of your child the laws of God. Then he will set his hope in God. When a person’s hope is in God, he will not be moved. Speak to him about the glorious deeds of the Lord and all the good things God has bestowed on your family. Let your child know that the Lord is good. Teach him to trust in God. Warn him against disobeying God. God is a God of love. God is also a God of justice. When a person disobeys God, God will punish. Your child must learn this.

If you accept that this is your duty as a parent, then the next time your child asks, “What shall I be?”, you will say, “You are a child of God to be used by Him as He wills,”

However all these are merely words if your actions do not confirm that you really believe what you have told him. Children learn so much from what you do arid what you say. When you say that it is important to put God first in everything and yet tell him that he may stay at home to study instead of going to church for services or for religious education classes, you are confusing your child by sending him conflicting messages. Parents must realise that attending church services including religious education classes has never adversely affected a Christian youth’s studies, I have been baptised for about 20 years and have worked with Christian youths for not less than 15 years but I have never known or heard of a Christian youth’s studies suffer because of attending church services. On the other hand, I have seen many active Christian youths who excel in their studies. Therefore when you teach your child the importance of worship, it is your duty to show him you mean what you say by actually bringing him to church (if he is still young) or encouraging him to attend religious education classes on his own, In this way, you are giving him a clear message that God is most important.

The same applies to all other teachings you impart to your child. You must show by your example what you teach.

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Author: Vincent Yeoh