1. TRAINING FOR SERVICE
a. What plan and purpose does Christ have for every soul that turns to Him? John 17:18; Matthew 20:27, 28; 10:16.
“This object [to serve God and our fellow man] should ever be kept in view by Christian parents and teachers. We know not in what line our children may serve. They may spend their lives within the circle of the home; they may engage in life’s common vocations, or go as teachers of the gospel to heathen lands; but all are alike called to be missionaries for God, ministers of mercy to the world.
“The children and youth . . . are to obtain an education that will help them to stand by the side of Christ in unselfish service. . . . On every hand the world's enticements to self-seeking and self-indulgence call them away from the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord. Whether their lives shall be a blessing or a curse depends upon the choice they make. Overflowing with energy, eager to test their untried capabilities, they must find some outlet for their superabounding life. Active they will be for good or for evil. God's word does not repress activity but guides it aright. . . .
“With us as parents and as Christians it rests to give our children right direction. They are to be carefully, wisely, tenderly guided into paths of Christlike ministry. . . . ‘Not to be ministered unto, but to minister’ is the great lesson which we are to learn and to teach (Matthew 20:28).”—The Ministry of Healing, pp. 395, 396.
2. THE HOME AS A TRAINING SCHOOL
a. What contrast is shown between Jesus’ home training and that of the educators of His time? Luke 2:40; John 7:15; Matthew 7:29. Discuss the importance of the home in training for service.
“Jesus secured His education in the home. His mother was His first human teacher. From her lips, and from the scrolls of the prophets, He learned of heavenly things. . . . The educators of the time sought to command respect by display and ostentation. To all this the life of Jesus presented a marked contrast. . . . ‘The Child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him’ (Luke 2:40). Thus prepared, He went forth to His mission, in every moment of His contact with men exerting upon them an influence to bless, a power to transform, such as the world had never witnessed.
“The home is the child’s first school, and it is here that the foundation should be laid for a life of service. Its principles are to be taught not merely in theory. They are to shape the whole life training.”—The Ministry of Healing, pp. 399, 400.
b. What counsel does the wise man have for one who does not like to work? Proverbs 6:6–11. How can helpfulness be applied in the home life?
“Very early the lesson of helpfulness should be taught the child. As soon as strength and reasoning power are sufficiently developed, he should be given duties to perform in the home. He should be encouraged in trying to help father and mother, encouraged to deny and to control himself, to put others’ happiness and convenience before his own, to watch for opportunities to cheer and assist brothers and sisters and playmates, and to show kindness to the aged, the sick, and the unfortunate. The more fully the spirit of true ministry pervades the home, the more fully it will be developed in the lives of the children. They will learn to find joy in service and sacrifice for the good of others.”—Ibid., p. 401.
3. THE HOME INSTRUCTION MANUAL
a. What special instruction should parents have in mind in training their children? Romans 14:19; Philippians 2:15; Jude 3.
“The Bible gives explicit directions concerning the important work of educating children [Deuteronomy 6:4–6, 7–9; 7:3, 4, 6–8 quoted.]. . . . Here are positive directions that reach down to our time. God is speaking to us in these last days, and He will be understood and obeyed.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 328.
“Those who have seen the truth and felt its importance, and have had an experience in the things of God, are to teach sound doctrine to their children. They should make them acquainted with the great pillars of our faith, the reasons why we are Seventh-day Adventists—why we are called, as were the children of Israel, to be a peculiar people, a holy nation, separate and distinct from all other people on the face of the earth. These things should be explained to the children in simple language, easy to be understood; and as they grow in years, the lessons imparted should be suited to their increasing capacity, until the foundations of truth have been laid broad and deep.”—Ibid., p. 330.
“God does not bid the youth to be less aspiring. The elements of character that make a man truly successful and honored among men—the irrepressible desire for some greater good, the indomitable will, the strenuous application, the untiring perseverance—are not to be discouraged. By the grace of God they are to be directed to the attainment of objects as much higher than mere selfish and worldly interests as the heavens are higher than the earth.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 396.
b. What should be the parents’ daily monitor? Psalm 119:105, 130.
“The word of God is to be [the parents’] daily monitor. It gives such instruction that parents need not err in regard to the education of their children; but it admits of no indifference or negligence. The law of God is to be kept before the minds of the children as the great moral standard. When they rise up, and when they sit down, when they go out, and when they come in, this law is to be taught them as the great rule of life, and its principles are to be interwoven with all their experience. They are to be taught to be honest, truthful, temperate, economical, and industrious, and to love God with the whole heart. This is bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This is setting their feet in the path of duty and safety.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 329.
4. RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY
a. What does the fifth commandment require? Exodus 20:12. Discuss the effect of faithful parental training upon Isaac in relation to parental authority (Genesis 24:1–4, 67).
“Children . . . should be trained, educated, and disciplined until they become obedient to their parents, giving respect to their authority. In this way respect for divine authority will be implanted in their hearts, and the family training will be like a preparatory training for the family in heaven.”—Child Guidance, p. 224.
“Parents should never lose sight of their own responsibility for the future happiness of their children. Isaac’s deference to his father’s judgment was the result of the training that had taught him to love a life of obedience. Abraham required his children to respect parental authority, his daily life testified that that authority was not a selfish or arbitrary control but was founded in love and had their welfare and happiness in view.”—Messages to Young People, pp. 465, 466.
“ ‘Should parents,’ you ask, ‘select a companion with out regard to the mind or feelings of son or daughter?’ I put the question to you as it should be: Should a son or daughter select a companion without first consulting the parents, when such a step must materially affect the happiness of parents if they have any affection for their children? And should that child, notwithstanding the counsel and entreaties of his parents, persist in following his own course? I answer decidedly: No; not if he never marries. The fifth commandment forbids such a course.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 108.
b. How may Ishmael’s character be described? Genesis 16:12. Discuss the effect of Abraham’s training upon Ishmael.
“Abraham’s early teachings had not been without effect upon Ishmael, but the influence of his wives resulted in establishing idolatry in his family. Separated from his father, and embittered by the strife and contention of a home destitute of the love and fear of God, Ishmael was driven to choose the wild, marauding life of the desert chief, ‘his hand’ ‘against every man, and every man’s hand against him’ (Genesis 16:12). In his latter days he repented of his evil ways and returned to his father’s God, but the stamp of character given to his posterity remained. The powerful nation descended from him were a turbulent, heathen people, who were ever an annoyance and affliction to the descendants of Isaac.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 174.
5. PROMISES OF BLESSING
a. To enable the children to gain a knowledge of God, what has the Lord made known to their parents? Deuteronomy 32:46; 11:18, 19, 21.
“We are numbered with Israel. All the instruction given to the Israelites of old concerning the education and training of their children, all the promises of blessing through obedience, are for us.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 405.
“As the Israelites kept their children within their houses during the time when the judgments of God were in the land of Egypt, so in this time of peril we are to keep our children separate and distinct from the world. We are to teach them that the commandments of God mean much more than we realize. Those who keep them will not imitate the practices of the transgressors of God's law.”—Child Guidance, p. 304.
b. How much does God love those who give themselves to His service? Micah 5:7, 8; John 17:22, 23.
“Wonderful, wonderful words, almost beyond the grasp of faith! The Creator of all worlds loves those who give themselves to His service, even as He loves His Son. Even here and now His gracious favor is bestowed upon us to this marvelous extent. He has given us the Light and Majesty of heaven, and with Him He has bestowed all the heavenly treasure. . . . He desires us to enjoy everything that will ennoble, expand, and elevate our characters.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 405.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How important is it to give our children the right direction into paths of Christian ministry?
2. In what sense and why should missionary training begin in the home?
3. What are some of the fundamentals of Christian child training?
4. Wherein can you see a remarkable difference between Isaac and Ishmael?
5. How does God want to reach the children through their parents?