The second role of parents in providing paideia education, a comprehensive Christian and Classical education, is the role of a prophet. The prophet function of parent is that of providing “instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).
Train your children to contemplate on the truth of God.
“Blessed is the man who…delights in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Ps 1:2) God’s Word is the source of all wisdom, which culminates in Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:30). Read God’s Word regularly together and discuss how the Word points to God’s character, manifested fully in Christ. If you need help in reading through the Bible with your children, here is one excellence resource: Beginning: Family Worship in Genesis. One of my favorite times every week is Sunday lunch, when I discuss the sermon with my family, even now. My young adult children look forward to this time because they grew up enjoying this time. One main reason for reading God’s Word with your children is to help them develop their identity and purpose in life.
Teach your children to recognize Jesus Christ as the Lord over every area of life.
“Instruction of the Lord” in Eph 6:4 refers to the instruction of the Lordship of Christ in every area of life. In the “Great Commission” (Mt 28:18-20), Jesus commanded that we go to the ends of the earth to make disciples…teaching them to obey everything he has commanded us. Teaching the lordship of Christ is showing how Christ redeems all things through his grace and his law. Teaching the lordship of Christ entails showing how all our hopes are fulfilled in Christ and how Christ actively reigns in every area of our lives through his grace and truth. You can do this by reading history books that show how the gospel of Jesus Christ changed an entire nation or culture, or entire field such as science, business, arts, etc. e.g. For the Glory of God (for lordship of Christ in science), Beauty for Truth’s Sake (for lordship of Christ in Math). Children begin to acknowledge the massive reality of our good God when they begin to see how great and powerful He is. It is this vision of the lordship of Christ in a specific field that is going to bring the best out of your children to accomplish amazing things in that field. Every year, I oversee the Junior/Senior Thesis at our school, and usually the point at which I see these students transform beautifully is when their eyes open to the lordship of Christ in the topic area of their thesis. Parents can share how they are seeking after the lordship of Christ in their field of career, both successes and failures.
Together with your children, read the Great Books where Christ’s reign can be imagined, directly or indirectly.
Theological depth is not good enough. It needs to be supplemented with classical breadth (Ps 78, Ps 111). For us to see Christ in all his glory, we need to see how Christ’s reign is applied throughout history and across cultures. Yes, this is the measure of truly great books, even if they are “pagan” books. Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are timeless because they are a fictional comparison of self-glory (Achille) vs. god-glory (Odysseus). Moby Dick is a timeless American classic because it is a poetic portrayal of an angry man’s “vengeance” against God (whale), which ends in poetic justice in the survival of Ishmael, the lonely narrator. Chronicles of Narnia is a classic, though relatively recent, because it portrays a world where Christ reigns, and where children grow in their faith and wisdom, and reign with Christ. Training children in this kind of moral imagination is the best training to prepare them to live them out in the real world.
Guide your children to think biblically in your daily ordinary conversations. Many times, true education happens in small conversations over ordinary events throughout the day (Dt 6:5). We either let ourselves be conformed to the patterns of this world or be transformed by the renewal of the mind by God’s Word. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
Small conversations over ordinary events matter. Children’s thoughts are influenced by their culture more than formal studies. What they watch, what they listen to, what they do with their friends, how they speak to other family members. Also, properly done, this is where greatest bonding between parents and children takes place.
Avoid judgmental comments, that exasperates children.
Ask questions that draw out their thoughts and ask questions that will lead them to God’s perspective in the Scriptures.
Don’t feel the burden to provide the right answers to every question or problem your child has. Be honest about the limits of your knowledge, but take interest in your child’s questions and problems, and commit to searching for the answers together.