1. OUR FIRST DUTY
a. Who did Jesus commend as examples of humble faith? Matthew 18:1–6.
b. What did Jesus ask of one of His most ardent disciples? John 21:15–17.
“The first work that Christ entrusted to Peter on restoring him to the ministry was to feed the lambs. This was a work in which Peter had little experience. It would require great care and tenderness, much patience and perseverance. It called him to minister to those who were young in the faith, to teach the ignorant, to open the Scriptures to them, and to educate them for usefulness in Christ’s service.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 812.
“Although Peter had denied his Lord, the love which Jesus bore him never faltered. Just such love should the undershepherd feel for the sheep and lambs committed to his care. Remembering his own weakness and failure, Peter was to deal with his flock as tenderly as Christ had dealt with him.”—Ibid., p.815.
c. What searching question will parents, educators, and church leaders of today face? Jeremiah 13:20.
2. THE HIGHEST WORK
a. What is the highest missionary work that can be done? Mark 10:13, 14, 16.
“Very much has been lost to the cause of truth by a lack of attention to the spiritual needs of the young. Ministers of the gospel should form a happy acquaintance with the youth of their congregations. . . .
“Why should not labor for the youth in our borders be regarded as missionary work of the highest kind? It requires the most delicate tact, the most watchful consideration, the most earnest prayer for heavenly wisdom. The youth are the objects of Satan’s special attacks; but kindness, courtesy, and the sympathy which flows from a heart filled with love to Jesus, will gain their confidence, and save them from many a snare of the enemy.”—Gospel Workers, p. 207.
“The work that lies next to our church members is to become interested in our youth; for they need kindness, patience, tenderness, line upon line, precept upon precept. Oh, where are the fathers and mothers in Israel? There ought to be a large number who would be stewards of the grace of Christ, who would feel not merely a casual but a special interest in the young. There ought to be those whose hearts are touched by the pitiable situation in which our youth are placed, and who realize that Satan is working by every conceivable device to draw them into his net.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, pp. 41, 42.
“Nothing is of greater importance than the education of our children and young people. The church should arouse and manifest a deep interest in this work; for now as never before, Satan and his host are determined to enlist the youth under the black banner that leads to ruin and death.”—Ibid., p.165.
b. How did Jesus show the value of children? Matthew 18:2–4.
“Calling a little child to Him, Jesus set him in the midst of them; then tenderly folding the little one in His arms He said, ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ The simplicity, the self-forgetfulness, and the confiding love of a little child are the attributes that Heaven values. These are the characteristics of real greatness.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 437.
3. HOW TO FEED LAMBS
a. What should children be taught? Psalm 34:11. How should this be done?
“Special talent should be given to the education of the little ones. Many can put the crib high and give food to the sheep, but it is a more difficult matter to put the crib low and feed the lambs.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 205.
“Let me say here that those who have never had children of their own are not usually the best qualified to manage wisely the varied minds of children and youth. They are apt to make one law, from which there can be no appeal. Teachers must remember that they themselves were once children. They should adapt their teaching to the minds of the children, placing themselves in sympathy with them.”—Ibid., vol.5, pp. 653, 654.
b. What spiritual experience should teachers have, and how should they then instruct the children? Deuteronomy 11:18–21.
“When Jesus admonished His disciples not to despise the little ones, He addressed all disciples in all ages. His own love and care for children is a precious example for His followers. If teachers in the Sabbath school felt the love which they should feel for these lambs of the flock, many more would be won to the fold of Christ. At every suitable opportunity, let the story of Jesus’ love be repeated to the children. In every sermon let a little corner be left for their benefit. The servant of Christ may have lasting friends in these little ones, and his words may be to them as apples of gold in pictures of silver.”—Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 76.
“The management and instruction of children is the noblest missionary work that any man or woman can undertake. By the proper use of objects the lessons should be made very plain, that their minds may be led from nature up to nature’s God. We must have in our schools those who possess the tact and skill to carry forward this line of work, thus sowing seeds of truth.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 205.
c. What will be the results of faithfulness in educating? Proverbs 22:6; Joel 1:3.
4. MAKING CHRISTIAN EDUCATION A PRIORITY
a. What was the work of Christ? How is this also the work of the church? Isaiah 40:11.
“The youth need more than a casual notice, more than an occasional word of encouragement. They need painstaking, prayerful, careful labor. He only whose heart is filled with love and sympathy will be able to reach those youth who are apparently careless and indifferent. Not all can be helped in the same way. God deals with each according to his temperament and character, and we must cooperate with Him. Often those whom we pass by with indifference, because we judge them from outward appearance, have in them the best material for workers, and will repay all the efforts bestowed on them. There must be more study given to the problem of how to deal with the youth, more earnest prayer.”—Gospel Workers, p. 208.
b. What should guide in our schools for the youth? Proverbs 9:10.
“It is high time for Sabbathkeepers to separate their children from worldly associations and place them under the very best teachers, who will make the Bible the foundation of all study.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 109.
“Employ a Christian teacher, who, as a consecrated missionary, shall educate the children in such a way as to lead them to become missionaries.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 174.
“Many families who, for the purpose of educating their children, move to places where our large schools are established. They should encourage the church of which they are members to establish a church school where the children within their borders could receive an all-round, practical Christian education. It would be vastly better for their children, for themselves, and for the cause of God if they would remain in the smaller churches, where their help is needed, instead of going to the larger churches, where, because they are not needed, there is a constant temptation to fall into spiritual inactivity.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 198.
“The Lord would use the church school as an aid to the parents in educating and preparing their children for this time before us. Then let the church take hold of the school work in earnest and make it what the Lord desires it to be.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 167.
5. YOUTH IN SERVICE
a. What goal must our church schools have for each of our youth? Isaiah 54:13; 3 John 3, 4.
“Our church schools are ordained by God to prepare the children for this great work. Here children are to be instructed in the special truths for this time and in practical missionary work. . . . By them God’s message will be made known and His saving health to all nations. Then let the church carry a burden for the lambs of the flock. Let the children be educated and trained to do service for God, for they are the Lord’s heritage.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 203.
b. Why should we involve them in service early? Ecclesiastes 12:1; Lamentations 3:27.
“We need young men and women, who, having high intellectual culture, are fitted to do the best work for the Lord. We have done something toward reaching this standard, but still we are far behind that which the Lord has designed. As a church, as individuals, if we would stand clear in the judgment we must make more liberal efforts for the training of our young people, that they may be better fitted for the various branches of the great work committed to our hands. . . .
“Some would be content with the thorough education of a few of the most promising of our youth; but they all need an education that they may be fitted for usefulness in this life, qualified for places of responsibility in both private and public life.”—Ibid., pp.206, 207.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What does it mean to feed the lambs of the flock?
2. Why is the most important missionary work often overlooked?
3. How can we improve in the care of our children and youth?
4. What role does the church school have in the church’s work of education?
5. What opportunities can I help provide for training youth in my local church?