Archive for August, 2014

Stewardship as the Ministry of Service and Inclusion

August 6, 2014

For most churches stewardship has to do mostly, if not solely, with money. This connection is valid, as the Greek term oikonomos (related to economy) is used for the crafty manager in Jesus’ parable of the unjust steward (Lk. 16). But we realize that stewardship is much broader than economics. The environment has become a pressing concern. We have all heard sermons about using our time and talents for the Lord. As it turns out, the biblical understanding of stewardship is very wide. It involves everything we have and everything we are, all in relation to God. For the faithful steward, it is a way of life, a life of discipleship.

Stewardship is a way of life, as it is grounded in God’s creation of human beings. The story of creation emphasizes that God created human beings in His own image. Though the traditional understanding of image of God emphasizes soul that enables human beings to think, reason and interact with God, the text of the story indicates that being made in God’s image has to do with our role or function: “Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea…” (Gen. 1.26). Human beings are commissioned as God’s stewards or agents to manifest God’s rule on earth. The responsibilities of naming the animals, and filling and subduing the earth show that they are being given an ambassadorial reign as God’s vice-regents.

God’s rule is vividly portrayed in Genesis 2. The focus is primarily on God’s care and concern towards his creation. God planted a garden and caused a river to water the garden. God’s care and concern towards Adam is seen in the creation of “every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food” (Gen. 2.9), and creation of a partner, Eve. When Adam did not find a suitable partner among animals and birds, He created Eve. Generally the theological significance of this story of Gen. 2 is understood that God’s intention for the creation of human being is to glorify or worship him. However, this understanding overlooks the essence of the story, i.e. God’s service to human beings – creator serving His creation. The story emphasises an essential quality of God, i.e. the desire of the creator for the best of his creation. Therefore, the rule of God should primarily be understood in terms of God’s care and concern for the welfare of His creation.

This rule of God or the kingdom of God was manifested in the life, words and works of Jesus Christ. The content of Jesus’ words and deeds was the kingdom of God. His Galilean ministry started with the proclamation of the coming of the kingdom of God (Mk. 1.15). His miraculous deeds were the indicators of the presence of God’s kingdom. In Mt. 12.22ff when Jesus healed the one who was mute and blind, the Pharisees said that Jesus did that with the power of the Beelzebub. But Jesus responded by saying that “If it is by the spirit of God I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”

What is this kingdom of God or rule of God? Mt. 12.22-32 indicates that bringing healing and wholeness to the body of the person demonstrates the presence of the kingdom of God. In this passage Jesus said two things that are interrelated: binding the strongman and the healing of the person. It was already said that the sickness was caused by the evil spirit. Jesus was dealing with the cause that caused pain and suffering in the person. Jesus was making right the wrong done by the demonic and oppressive forces. It was this transformative action of God in the lives of people and the society that was evident in the ministry of Jesus Christ. It is to this transformative ministry that the disciples of Jesus are called.

Presence of the Kingdom of God in Jesus’ Words and Deeds

Service to those in need

Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God proclaimed through words and deeds signifies service and inclusion. In Mark Jesus was described as touching the hand of people in the context of healing: a leper (1.41), Peter’s mother-in-law (1.31), the dead body of Jairus’ daughter (5.41), a deaf man (7.33), the blind man (8.23), and the dumb and deaf boy (9.27). There were also several instances of people touching Jesus: the woman with haemorrhage (5.27-28) and the crowd seeking healing (3.10, 6.56). Among these healings by touch, leper, dead body of Jairus’ daughter, and woman with haemorrhage were generally considered unclean.

The bone of contention between Jesus and the Jewish religious authorities was the unregulated contact with the unclean. Therefore, it is reasonable to suggest that Jesus’ deliberate gesture of touch and contact with the impure was part of his ministry of inclusion and service. His understanding of holiness was different from that of Jewish religious authorities. For them, holiness meant separation. For Jesus, it meant loving one’s neighbour as oneself or service to those in need.

Ministry of Inclusion

Jesus’ ministry did not confine to Jewish dominated areas. His ministry of exorcism, healing and teaching included the Gentiles. That means, his ministry of the kingdom of God was an inclusive ministry, not an excluding one. Jesus associated with tax-collectors and sinners and ate with them (Mk. 2.14-17). He exorcised a person in the Gentile territory (Mk. 5.1-20) and healed the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman (Mk. 7.26). Thus, he demonstrated that God’s rule had no boundaries.

Therefore, Jesus deeds demonstrated God’s rule in the service of the needy. They not only showed Jesus’ divine power, but also illustrated the character of his power, the way he used it in the service of others. The intense kindness, sensitivity and unfailing benevolence of Jesus aligned him with common people, particularly the marginalized groups, and contrasted him with the powerful religious and political leaders who never showed any interest in the welfare of these groups, except lording over them.

Jesus’ Teaching on Service

The primacy of service is emphasized in Mk. 9.33-37 and 10.42-45. The disciples’ discussion on greatness provides an occasion for Jesus to teach about true greatness in terms of service: “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk. 9.35). Such service should be rendered to those marginalized in the society such as children (Mk. 9.36-37) and “little ones” (Mk. 9.42). The contrast between setting mind on “divine things” and on “human things” can be seen between Jesus’ understanding of greatness and that of his disciples (cf. Mk. 8.33).

The disciples’ understanding of greatness represented that of the society. In response to the request of James and John for places of honour in the kingdom of God, Jesus instructed:

You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers, lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many (Mk. 10.42-45).

The disciples knew how rulers used their power and authority to dominate and make people serve their greed. Their knowledge of the way power and authority operated in society was used by Jesus to teach them the alternate way that power and authority should be used by the community of the kingdom of God. He clearly stressed that the behaviour of rulers was the model that should be avoided by his disciples. The way the rulers rule and the great men exercise their authority and power is unacceptable in the kingdom of God. Self-seeking, self-promotion, and abuse of power and authority for self-interests are improper in the kingdom of God. “Greatness” and “being first” involve inversion of familiar models.

In contrast to the familiar models of greatness in the society, Jesus becomes the model of greatness to his disciples. Greatness is redefined in the kingdom of God. Jesus taught greatness as service. He commanded those who wanted to be great among his disciples to be servants and those who wanted to become first to be slaves of all.
Paul says that the church has been entrusted with this gospel of the kingdom of God, which he called “the mysteries of God” or the mystery of “the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3.9,10). Related to this was his use of the word “stewardship” (oikonomia) to describe his preaching of the gospel (I Cor. 9.16,17).

Faithful stewards are involved in Christ’s ministry of reconciliation, inclusion and service. Obeying Christ’s commandment to love the unloved and the unlovable, to pray for our enemies, and to care for outcasts is part of our stewardship obligation.

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How Much Is Enough?

August 6, 2014

In the chaos of the Indian street, pedestrians, honking cars, bikes, auto rickshaws and buses battle for road space. In the glass-walled fortresses of “India shining”, it’s a whole different kind of chaos. Shopping malls are where India’s exploding consumerism is witnessed.

Changes are happening in India at a rapid pace since the Indian market was opened for the international trade two decades ago. One of the changes is mushrooming of shopping malls, particularly in urban India. This change is due to the influence of “American Dream”, a myth, characterised by high consumption, compulsive acquisition and instantaneous gratification. The “American Dream” is nurtured by the American economic system that has created a culture in which people are encouraged to accumulate and show off material wealth, to the point where it defined their self-image and their status in society. “American Identity” has, thus, become defined by its relationship with consumer goods.

Emulating this American culture, people in India are embedded in an ever expanding consumerism. They are increasingly persuaded to focus on materialistic pursuits, to acquire “that next want” which goes far beyond a genuine need for sustenance, safety and security. Most people, especially the young, give in to the pressure to possess all the latest fashionable gadgets and consumer goods. Youth find in spending, a way of gaining autonomy and identity, and of overcoming their insecurities. Those who can afford and those who cannot, all seem to have been caught in the ever widening tentacles of consumerism.

Consumerism is economically manifested in the chronic purchasing of new material goods with little attention to their true need, durability, product origin or environmental consequences of manufacture and disposal. It is the desire, pursuit and acquisition of consumer goods. Consumerism is like the greedy man in the story of Leo Tolstoy “How Much Land Does a Man Need”:

After slowly accumulating more and more property, a greedy Russian named Pahom hears that the Bashkirs, a minority race in Russia, are practically giving their land away. He decides to visit them and they offer him as much land as he wants, provided he can walk its perimeter in one day. Pahom agrees and goes out on his trek, but when the sun starts to set, he finds he has walked too far. Running back, Pahom collapses at the starting point just as the sun disappears behind the horizon. The Bashkirs try to congratulate him, only to find him dead. In answer to the question posed in the title, the Bashkirs bury him in a hole six feet long by two feet wide.

The greedy man finds himself driven by an endless desire to acquire as much area before the sun sets and ultimately finds himself lost in his incapability to control his greed.

Similarly consumerism is an insatiable desire for things and money to buy them with little or no regard for their utility. Greed and acquisitive tendencies have grown due to unhealthy influence of consumerism along with scientific and technological development. As N. Radhakrishnan says, “Globalisation has pushed humanity to the cut-throat world of consumerism with utter disregard for human and ecological concerns. And we justify all this in the name of ‘enlightened self-interest’.” Moral principles and ethics have no place in the world of consumerism. The most corrosive impact of consumerism is on human relationships. Consumerism thrives by promoting use-and-throw culture. Attitudes formed towards things (use-and-throw) eventually get transferred to people. As things are discarded after use, people are also thrown out once they lose the capacity to participate in the cycle of consumption, because in consumeristic culture human beings themselves do not possess value. Their value and worth are measured merely on the basis of their purchasing power, thus turning human beings into commodities. The irony is, living beings find their value, worth and identity in non-living things.

The “philosophy” of consumerism is embedded in the slogans and images of the advertising agencies and display designers, who welded human physical needs, impulses and fantasies to consumer goods. Consumerism is driven by advertising, which is designed to create desire to follow trends, fantasies and value system based on acquisition of consumer goods. The advertisers bombard people with images and allurements of status, self-worth, satisfaction and happiness through acquisition. They make people captive in imagination and desires: “I can imagine it, therefore I want it. I want it, therefore I should have it. Because I should have it, I need it. Because I need it, I deserve it. Because I deserve it, I will do anything necessary to get it.” By making people slaves to their imagination and desires, the advertising industry indulges in “proliferation of unnecessary necessities”. It makes one feel insecure, since the advertising industry has turned one’s sense of self-worth into a symbolic presentation of possessions. In the world of consumerism one is captive and unaware. When the prisoner is unaware of his/her chains, then it is hopeless.

Advertising industry has invaded home and family through electronic and print media. During their free time, children and adults occupy themselves with mass media filled with advertisements of consumer goods with enticing promises of good feelings. Their purpose is to stoke further desire for more things. Television programmes and advertisements generally depict a way of life well above the norm and beyond what most people can afford. In this climate, almost everyone is vulnerable to “affluenza”, an infectious disease in which one becomes addicted to having more. Thus, there is no private retreat from the world of consumerism.

The important question, however, is whether consumerism delivers happiness and satisfaction promised by advertisers? In The High Price of Materialism American psychologist Tim Kasser investigates whether materialistic values really produce happiness and well-being. He cites and agrees with studies showing that once people have met their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, there is little benefit in accumulating more. Using statistical studies Kasser shows how those who place a high value on acquiring wealth and material goods aren’t as happy as their less materialistic counterparts. The “paradox of affluence” is that “richer is not better.” Happiness can’t be purchased in the market place, no matter how much advertising tries to convince us of it.

What’s disturbing is how we continue to shop when it doesn’t make us happier. Kasser argues that our hyper-consumerism is a response to insecurity. In the highly competitive market-driven economies the sense of insecurity has increased. Advertising industry has exploited this human malady and enticed people with false promises of security, satisfaction and self-worth through acquisition of consumer goods. However, the lack of consumption restraint may result in feelings of insecurity, guilt, anxiety, frustration and loss of control, financial hardships and domestic discord. The broader socio-economic consequences associated with unrestrained consumption include global resource depletion and increasing environmental problems.

Kasser found that “existing scientific research on the value of materialism yields clear and consistent findings…The studies document that strong materialistic values are associated with a pervasive undermining of people’s well-being, from low life satisfaction and happiness, to depression and anxiety, to physical problems such as headaches, and to personality disorders, narcissism, and antisocial behaviour.” Jane Hammerslough, a journalist, says, “Faith in material solutions has a funny way of renewing and reproducing itself. Once you sail into the mythical land of Consumer Satisfaction, Where products fulfil every desire, pretty soon you notice another ship setting sail for a place where there’s the potential for even more satisfaction. The product you own is okay, but think of how much greater the satisfaction could be with something else you can buy! It’s hard to resist the urge to hop on.”

What is ignored in this world of consumerism is the fact that the real sources of lasting human fulfilment, security and satisfaction are stable family, healthy relationships, community and self-acceptance. Our worth is determined not by what we have or don’t have, rather what we are as individuals. In an essay, “Gandhian Economy and the Way to Realise It”, J.C. Kumarappa pointed out: “Our life is something higher than material possessions and our life is also to be looked at from the possibilities of development of personality. The personality of an individual does not require for its development the satisfaction of a multiplicity of wants. In fact the simpler (the) life the more conducive it is (to) exercising the higher faculties.” True wealth lies in the scarcity of one’s wants, as opposed to the abundance of one’s possessions. Having fewer things means enjoying what we have more and actually getting to use it, thereby raising its intrinsic value. As it is said, “The less clutter that one has in their surroundings, the fewer distractions there are from the essentials such as family, friends, food, nature and study.” Self-control prevents us from falling into the black-hole of consumerism. Self-absorption, self-gratification and living for now should be overtaken by thrift, contentment and simplicity. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu said, “He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.”

Who Am I?

August 6, 2014

In 2005, Liz Beattie, a retired British school teacher, proposed to her union, the Professional Association of Teachers, that the word failure should be banned from classrooms and replaced with the phrase deferred success, as the former was not good for building self-esteem in school children. Building self-esteem in students has been a primary focus in schools, especially in the western world.

Not only schools, advertising industry also focuses on self-esteem, because people need self-esteem. It gives them a sense of self-worth. Advertising appeals to this need in people to sell its products.

What does advertising do? It tells us what it means to be a “desirable” or “ideal” woman or man. It uses different strategies depending on whether the target audience is female or male.

Advertisements of cosmetics, hair colouring and skin products aimed at girls and women show their models as “beautiful”. Unfortunately, skinny models, with skimpy rags at times, are presented as if everybody is supposed to look that way. Advertising presents a very narrow and limited image not only of beauty but also of women roles. Girls and women in advertisements show concern mostly about their physical appearance – their clothes and their body – in order to attract boys and men. Seldom are women shown in roles of authority and responsibility. The relentless barrage of advertising with the narrow and limited images of beauty and potential programmes our minds to a limited understanding of self-image and self-worth.

The “flawless appearance” of models with airbrushed blemishes and wrinkles, bleached teeth and eyeballs, created by makeup artists, photographers and photo retouchers, captivates girls and women. What happens when a girl or a woman is exposed to these artificial, manufactured images? She will be dissatisfied with her real self. Poor self-image results in higher levels of anxiety and depression. It can cause her to avoid activities she normally enjoys, lower her confidence and self-esteem, and at times lead to eating disorders.

The “highly processed look” of models in the advertisements, thus, creates anxiety and depression, promoting envy and fostering feelings of low self-image and low self-esteem.

Advertising also targets boys and men. It presents boys and men having an aura of power, physical strength and dominance. Personal grooming products, such as deodorants, colognes, shaving aids, hair colouring, etc., are sold using self-esteem through improving appearance. Most of these advertisements use the idea of drawing the attention of “attractive” women, because of a smoother face, sexier smell, or younger-looking hair. The implied message to the viewer is this is the way a boy or a man should be. This is again a very narrow and limited image of masculinity. Traits like sensitivity, compassion and vulnerability are never shown in the male image.

When the self-image of boys and men do not align with that of handsome, muscular and clear complexioned men in advertisements, their self-esteem gets damaged.
Advertising, thus, creates a “problem” in viewers by presenting a new image of “perfect person” and consequently denting in their self-image and self-esteem. It also offers a “solution” to this “created problem” saying, “To become “that perfect person” you should consume our products.”

Self-esteem and Character

What the advertising industry is trying to do is to instil in us an obsession of “self”. The focus is so much on “self”: “I should be the best”, “I should have the best”, “I should be the prettiest”, etc. This produces selfish, dissatisfied people with a distorted self-image and an unrealistic view of the world they live in. If the “self” is allowed to become the overriding focus of our lives in a misguided pursuit of self-esteem, the results can be disastrous, experts say. The extent of greedy, egocentric, careless behaviour observable in our consumeristic societies seems to confirm that pursuing self-image and self-esteem as created by the advertising industry is catastrophic both to individuals and communities.

While no one denies the importance of having a healthy self-esteem, overemphasis on it would lessen the focus on another, perhaps more important one – character. This is a rare commodity in the present consumeristic world. People no longer talk about character. Nor do families, educational institutions and religious centres emphasise on it.

However, I believe that a healthy self-esteem comes from developing a firm, good character. One should focus on building character. Self-esteem will naturally follow.
Character refers to “the moral dimension of one’s self understanding or self-definition.” People of good character place moral concerns at the center of their identity. Conduct flows from character. Also attitudes, motives, perception and value system are based on character.

Although people of good character derive self-esteem from many sources, their self-esteem is deeply influenced by their moral behaviour. Self-esteem results from good conduct. In other words, you feel good about yourself because you have done something right.

Building character involves having integrity and honesty, and becoming a neighbour. Self-esteem should come from love for others. This is outgoing love, which is opposite to selfish love promoted by the advertising industry. Love for neighbour concerns for the wellbeing of the other. This is the core of healthy self-esteem. As we do things for the welfare of others, we begin to experience feelings of true worth.

The worth-based self-esteem comes from a firm belief of being created in the image of God. This belief gives a sense of intrinsic self-worth or self-dignity. If one has a sense of inherent self-worth or self-dignity, then one may be motivated to behave in ways that brings this worth or dignity into realization.

Since everybody is made in God’s image, everyone has an intrinsic worth. Individuals have value and worth apart from their age, gender, race, educational status, vocation, etc. This notion of personal worth leads to a judgment that individuals have a right to life and wellbeing. The belief of intrinsic human worth, therefore, ought to be expressed through compassion and love to enhance life and wellbeing of ALL.

A firm belief of being created in God’s image, therefore, forms the basis of a healthy self-esteem, which in turn prompts one to bear the fruit of that inherent self-worth or self-image.

Parents’ Influence on Their Children

August 6, 2014

Do parents have any important, long term influence on the character development of their children? This was the question raised by psychologist Judith Rich Harris, author of the controversial book, The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do, published in 1998. She argues that parents matter much less, at least when it comes to determining the behaviour of their children. Instead Harris contends that a child’s peer group play a much more influential role.

On the other hand, there is the debate about Nature vs Nurture. Some raise the question: why do children reproduce the skills, intelligence and habits of their parents? They argue that personality resemblances between biological relatives are due almost entirely to heredity rather than home environment or nurture. Genes is much more important than the home environment in the personality development of children, they say.

So the important question is: what shapes a person? I would include nature (genes), parental nurture, peers, society and life’s experiences that make a person. Neither one of these factors is in themselves deterministic.

Teach Children by Example

Parents play a critical role in shaping the character or personality of their children. Parents’ personality and the nature of parent/child relationship influence children’s attitudes, choices, decisions and behaviour. Parents leave not only their physical looks, to a certain extent, but also their footprints in the lives of their children. Susan B. Campbell states, “Negative, inconsistent parental behaviour and high levels of family adversity are associated with the emergence of problems in early childhood and predict their persistence (in adult life).” The philosopher John Locke once said, “Parents wonder why the streams are bitter, when they themselves have poisoned the fountain.”

One of the best ways that parents can influence their children is to teach by example. In II Timothy 1.5 Paul reminds his coworker Timothy the influence that the latter’s mother and grandmother had on him: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.” We don’t know when these women had come to faith in Jesus Christ. Eunice was a Jewish believer (Acts 16.1). But Timothy’s father was a Greek. He was not a believer in Christ. That could be the reason why his name was not mentioned by Paul. Even then Timothy’s mother maintained her faith in Christ. Most probably Eunice became a believer in Christ after her marriage with Timothy’s father.

The faith of Lois and Eunice was described as “sincere”. The word “sincere” literally means without play acting, without show or pretence, or without hypocrisy. It describes that which is unhypocritical or genuine (cf. Rom. 12.9; II Cor. 6.6; I Tim. 1.5; James 3.7; I Pet. 1.22). A hypocrite was “a stage-actor. It was a custom for Greek and Roman actors to speak in large masks with mechanical devices for augmenting the force of the voice; hence the word became used metaphorically of a dissembler (i.e. the one who puts on false appearance), a hypocrite.” A hypocrite is, therefore, an actor. The faith of Lois and Eunice was completely genuine, without hypocrisy or pretence or deceit. Having a sincere faith doesn’t imply perfection. But it does imply reality (and not pretence) with God. It means to have godly character, qualities, attitude and behaviour (cf. II Pet. 1.5-7).

Paul says that the sincere faith “lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice” (II Tim. 1.5). The word “live” literally means to dwell in, to take up residence. That means, sincere faith took up residence in the lives of Lois and Eunice. This defines the depth and extent to which faith in Jesus Christ has become a vital and integral part of their lives. Sincere faith was not an occasional visitor, but a permanent resident and an abiding presence exerting its influence on their behaviour. Timothy was blessed with a godly heritage, although it was only one parent and grandparent who contributed. In the Roman world, fathers had absolute authority over family, and since Timothy’s father was not a believer in Jesus Christ, his home situation was less than ideal. But the two women were persistent in their faith and provided a model for Timothy to emulate. J.R. Miller writes, “There is something in genealogy, after all. It is a fine thing for a young man to have had a good mother and a godly grandmother. This does not mean that a man (or a woman) is necessarily good because of the faith that dwelt in his grandmother and his own mother. Goodness cannot be passed down like an estate. Some very bad men have had most pious ancestry. At the same time, it is fitting when in successive generations piety is found. A young man (or a woman) with worthy ancestors owes it to them to be worthy. We are responsible for the carrying on of the work which they have begun. Paul was persuaded that the faith of his grandmother and mother was also in Timothy. It should always be so with young people with Christian parents. Those who have a noble inheritance, or memories, influences and teachings should be better than those who have not had these blessings.”

Parents give a lot of thought to what they pass on to their children. By the example of their lives, they can pass on to their children the more important things than a pile of money and possessions. Paul says the best gift of all is the example of sincere faith in Jesus Christ. The faith in Jesus Christ and the related values parents leave in the lives of their children are more important than the valuables they leave to them.

Timothy received sincere faith from his grandmother and mother. This faith was reflected in his life. This was acknowledged by people of his home town and others: “He was well spoken of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium” (Acts 16.2). Paul too confessed, “I have no one like him (Timothy) who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare” (Phil. 2.20).

Guide Children in the Right Path

Godly parents not only teach their children through their exemplary lives, but also attempt to guide them in the path of right living based on the scriptures. Eunice, and probably Lois also, taught Timothy the scriptures starting at a very young age (II Tim. 3.15). Jewish boys start formal instruction in the scriptures at age 5. The Jewish people were instructed as follows: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise” (Deut. 6.4-7). Parents have responsibility to nurture their children. Parental training is emphasized in the Bible. “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray” (Prov. 22.6). “And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6.4). The Greek word for “to bring up” is ektrephō, which means “to educate” or “to nurture”. The texts of Deut. 6.4-7, 11.13-21 and Ex. 13.1-10,11-21 were written in small parchments and placed in small leather boxes and were tied into phylacteries of the Pharisees apparently to remind themselves their obligation to teach their children to obey Yahweh’s commands.

Timothy’s mother instructed him the scriptures and that prepared him to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ (II Tim. 3.15). Nurturing children in scriptures lead them not only to salvation in Jesus Christ, but also to a life of godliness (II Pet. 1.3, 4). Scriptures is profitable for teaching the ways of God, i.e. how God wants us to live, for reproof, i.e. to convince us of our wrongs, and for training us in righteousness, which means not only right relationship with God and neighbor, but also right living (II Tim. 3.16, 17). That means, scriptures helps us to maintain sincere faith that is reflected in godly character, qualities, attitude and behaviour (II Pet. 1.5-7).
Parents, therefore, play a vital role in helping their children to develop godly character and behaviour. Parents who spend time with their children, and are involved, responsive and hold their children to a reasonably high standard of behaviour tend to have their children less likely to engage in risky behaviour. And children who report feeling “connected” to their parents are also least likely to engage in risky behaviour. Often times parents, who have misbehaving children, allow them to continue in this bad behaviour for many different reasons. Children are often very effective in convincing their parents that what their parents say is irrelevant to their lives, and the mistake parents make is to believe it and withdraw from taking any corrective measures for the bad behaviour of their children. Some believe that their children will grow out of it. Unfortunately these parents are actually making things worse for their children. Instead of being indifferent towards your children’s bad behaviour, help them learn about consequences, so that they may behave well and not have problems later on in life. In essence parents should be knowledgeable about their children’s activities and interests in order to guide them to become mature and responsible human beings.

Parents have, therefore, an immense responsibility to bring up their children through positive model life and nurture. Since this is a God-given responsibility, they are accountable to God for the way they discharge their responsibility. Through their positive influence on their child, they are also helping their child to become a responsible adult in society. So actually when parents have influence on their child, they are also influencing society. The quality and quantity of time, accountability to God, setting proper role models, providing security and showing responsibility – all these should be great motivators in helping to see how parents have an important influence on a child.