Sent to Serve

Posted on Sep 13, 2020 by Mark Muehl - Lutheran Spirit

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.”

But at the risk of taking the time to wholly look at the ramifications of “Loving God”, consider the 4th commandment’s call to “honor” father and mother and then 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. Respect demonstrates itself through actions and words.

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. In a time when parents, police, civil authorities of all kinds are ridiculed, reviled and physically harmed, Luther’s definition comes in stark contrast to the day’s civil unrest and 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 teach the faith in its fullness, Lutheran schools naturally teach honor and respect. But in our highly accountable age and with an extreme need to explain what we do and how we do it, consider the following:

  • We 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.
  • We encourage good listening (and stop talking)- 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, “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” declares that the wise listen to sound advice. So we work to learn how to talk to one another...especially with adults. We give opportunities for interviewing seniors and have them be an integral part of the school community. It’s good for parents to teach this 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.
  • We strive to show family first- In Joshua 2:1-13 Rahab negotiated a deal that spared not only her life but the life of her parents as well. 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.