BACK TO SCHOOL: Prep students for missions

NASHVILLE (BP) -- The beginning of the school year often comes with a variety of emotions from parents. There may be excitement, apprehension, fear, nervousness, or even joy at the reality that the kids won't be home during the daytime hours anymore. If your student is in one of those big transition years -- entering junior high or high school, or beginning their senior year -- you're probably working through all of those emotions at the same time.

Other things enter the minds of parents during this season of the year. You want your student to excel academically, socially, and in their extracurricular activities. This is the time when many parents talk about those things under the banner of helping "get them focused." You don't mean to put additional pressure on your kids. You mean well. After all, you just want them to be successful in those things. But is that what we're really called to do as parents -- to help our kids become successful academically, socially, athletically and musically?

Sure, those things are good. I want my kids to excel in whatever they do. The Bible doesn't speak against being successful in those areas. In fact, it encourages us to do our best in everything we do. But isn't there something in addition to those types of successes that we as Christian parents should be focusing our kids on?

The Bible describes children as "arrows" in Psalm 127:4: "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one's youth." In a battle, archers had one shot with an arrow. When a warrior pulled back the bowstring and let an arrow fly, it had to be done with precision and purpose to make sure his one shot mattered. A skillful warrior with a single arrow shot could make a significant difference in a battle.

This is the picture given to us in Scripture. Your kids are the arrows you have to launch with precision and purpose into this life to make an impact. As Christian parents, we should be focusing our kids on the mission of God to take the Gospel across the street and across the globe.

This school year, try to help your student see the impact they can make for the kingdom.

-- Pray with them and encourage them to pray.

-- Train them to be missionaries wherever they go, challenging them to look for opportunities to invite their friends to the youth group, etc.

-- Model for them what it's like to be a follower of Jesus all the time.

These are better than high achievement in every area at school -- as good and as worthwhile as that is. These are the things that should be our main focus as we pull back the bowstring to launch our kids into the world.

Yes, talk to them about the other stuff but don't make it number one for them. After all, the other stuff exists partly to give them a platform to share the Gospel and minister to the groups of people God gives them access to. "Whatever you do, do everything for God's glory" (1 Corinthians 10:31).

As I think about doing this in my own life, I know there will be times when I fall short. The thought of having one shot is a heavy burden to bear. It's in those moments -- and many others -- as a parent that I'm thankful for Jesus' strength and power in my life. We can't parent this way on our own. We need Him. Allow the Gospel of Jesus to be what provides your purpose, your direction, and your own destination. That same Gospel will give you what you need to let your arrows fly into a world of impact for His glory.


Ben Trueblood is director of LifeWay Student Ministry. This article first appeared in LifeLines, a publication of LifeWay Christian Resources. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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