The good, the bad, and the obedient
by Rachel Jankovic | Spring 2016
When the time rolls around for us to talk to the teachers about how our kids have been doing at school, there are only two things we really want to hear: 1) they have been obedient, and 2) they have been cheerful about it. Don’t get me wrong—we love to hear that they are excelling academically or making great improvement in a particular subject. It is just that we care a lot more about how they are behaving at school than we do about what grades they are getting.
There are a few reasons for this. The first and most important is obviously that it honors God. A great education is a gift. But it is a gift that comes with a corresponding gift for sanctification.
Accepting new challenges thankfully, doing your best as unto the Lord, and even rejoicing when you fail are all things that shape a person. We want our children to prioritize honoring God and obedience to Him. Thankfully that is something that can still be done when the human authority over you is not perfect. Even when that authority has gone so far as to be downright annoying, our children can still thrive through obedience—not blind obedience, but a conscious and deliberate obedience to God.
Another reason is that our children are in an academically rigorous school. There is so much work to be done, so many things to practice, so many new concepts to master. If they are not cheerfully disposed towards their work and towards their teacher, it is far more likely that they will struggle with academic burnout—being overwhelmed by all the work they have to do, and consequently discouraged and tired. Or, if they are a naturally gifted student, they may slip into a prideful and performance-oriented approach to everything. Neither is what we hope for in our children.
We tell our kids that the first step to being good at something is to be good at being bad at it. If you can do that, when you finally master the subject or skill, you will be good at being good at it. On the other hand, if you start out bad at being bad at it, you will (through much work and trouble) become bad at being good at it.This is what we hope for most in our children—that they will be good at being bad at things, be good at mastering things, be good at failing unexpectedly, and be good at learning to do better.
RACHEL JANKOVIC is a wife, homemaker, and mother of seven. She graduated from New Saint Andrews College, but mostly reads cookbooks now to avoid story grip (being highly susceptible). Rachel’s books Loving the Little Years and Fit to Burst continue to be parenting favorites. She is also a contributor to the Desiring God blog and is featured in their book Mom Enough.