Service and vocation are central to the response to the call to faith in Christ. However, lately the notion of service can become trite. So much has been written on servant leadership and humility in leadership that any new blog can fall on deaf ears - or blind eyes!
Honor and respect are key pieces of schools and parenting, yet they are largely misunderstood and rarely imitated. Both honor and respect find their struggles due to society’s lack of understanding who God is and knowing His principles for showing love to Him and to one another.
Love God? Most of the god-loving of our communities is self love. The ability to “love one another” is skewed away from the selfless love that Luther describes in his meanings of the commandments. “Love your neighbor as yourself” often seems to be twisted into a self love first.
But at the risk of taking the time to wholly look at the ramifications of “Loving God”and “Loving your neighbor”, consider the 4th commandment’s call to “honor” father and mother and its ramifications for schools- especially Lutheran schools.
Honor... as if love isn’t hard enough! Honor includes love but also adds deference, humility and modesty. Love is not the emotional feeling of affection. Love is commitment and selflessness. Respect demonstrates itself through actions and words. It is shown through humility not screaming and demanding it.
One might argue that honor and respect for parents and, as Luther also includes, “authorities” may be the most counterculture of all principles for Lutheran schools to teach.
In the Large Catechism, Luther says we should honor parents due to a “majesty within them” and give them the very highest level of respect. Luther even goes on to say we should treat parents as God’s representatives, to “respect, obey, love and serve them” even if they are “lowly, poor, feeble and eccentric.” Parents are the “most precious treasure on earth.” There is no greater work than to honor parents and there is no other commandment containing a promise. As teachers, police, and civil authorities are part of the definition of this command, Luther’s definition comes in stark contrast to the day’s civil unrest and the weakness of family structure and function.
Praise God that He has “fitted you to perform a task so precious and pleasing to Him.”
What does the Fourth Commandment mean for Lutheran schools? How is honor taught in a Lutheran school? If we fully teach the faith, Lutheran schools naturally teach honor and respect. Consider the following:
Lutheran Schools teach responsibility- There’s no need to go to the extent of Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (it’s left for your reading), but having chores in the classroom teaches that we all have a part in the community and those simple roles are important. Having responsibilities helps one look beyond self to the needs of the greater good. Having these responsibilities and encouraging parents as well to provide opportunities for chores and other responsibilities at home help grow children to be productive, contributing members of society.
Lutheran Schools encourage good listening- Taking the time to listen starts with a heart check that is humble and kind. Jesus submitted to his earthly parents even when they didn’t know and understand everything that He did (Luke 2:21ff). Proverbs 1:5-7 says, “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” We work to learn how to talk to one another...especially with adults. We give opportunities for interviewing seniors adults and consider them as an integral part of the school community. It’s good for parents to teach good listening at the dinner table, taking turns talking about the day's events.
Pray and forgive- None of us are perfect. In a sin-sick world, parenting has a heavy burden of raising a child and sensing feelings of failure. Praying is a huge part of learning and practicing honor. Specifically, prayers of thanksgiving and prayers of forgiveness are key. Teachers and principals can model prayer as issues are addressed in the school.
We strive to show family first- In Joshua 2:1-13 Rahab negotiated a deal that spared not only her life but also the life of her parents. She wasn’t content until her parents had been protected. It’s quite a model to follow. As an extension of ministry from the church and a support to the work of parents, policies and procedures of the school need to demonstrate a family-first desire. We fail if we put “school” and its authority above the authority of the home.