Gospel Perspectives for Parents: Schoolwork

too much work

When our kids were young, my husband and I had a go-to verse that we transformed from biblical exhortation to law: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…” (Col. 3:23). I cringe now as I think of the unintentional subtext behind the “pep talks” we gave our three sons: work hard for God (and you’ll probably get what you want and we’ll be proud of you).

Of course there’s nothing wrong with wanting our kids to be diligent, but how to teach this as a matter of faithfulness to our faithful God is another matter. We pulled together some of the best resources on the blog to help parents think biblically and practically about schoolwork. Some are written by parents and some by youth ministers, but all of them take a good look at what the Cross has to do with math problems and persuasive essays. We hope you’ll be encouraged!

A Gospel Prayer for the Completion of Homework by Josh Hussung. “Our students live in a world that says that they are defined by their performance. Their day-in and day-out is, even if not intentionally, fueled by competition and merit. But the Gospel is Good News to the heart bound by anxiety. Listen to the words of Jesus.”

A Theology of (School)Work for Teenagers by Taylor Sutton. “But how do you make a theology of work clear and compelling to students when they are not yet working themselves? One way is to give a theological account of school itself so that students begin to apply biblical categories to the job they are already doing. Here are five building blocks for a theology of schoolwork.”

Half Truths Series: God Rewards Our Hard Work and Good Behavior by Chelsea Kingston Erickson. This one isn’t specifically about schoolwork, but Chelsea offers a lot of wisdom on how we can help our teenagers think biblically about their efforts in school. “Today’s teenagers have been indoctrinated into behavior modification from their very first sticker chart back in preschool, and the stakes just keep getting higher. Thus, our students assume that God works like the idols they worship: If only they’re devoted enough, if they just work hard enough to please Him, surely He’ll deliver what they want…right?”

Working Under Heaven by Katie Polski. “When all things are one day restored, and our eyes are no longer tarnished because of sin, we will see with clarity the beauty in the way God intended work to be. We will see to the fullest extent how we are made to be creative stewards of His creation, how we are meant to serve others through the work of our hands. But until that day, it is still possible to feel joy in our labor.”

The Gospel’s Response to Final Exams by Carolyn Lankford. We’re not quite here yet in the school year, but we will be soon, and the principles in this piece apply throughout the year. “I would teach my children that their performance on exams does not affect one iota God’s perfect, unwavering love for them. I would tell them that their response to academic expectations is an opportunity to honor God.”

Hope Amidst College Admissions Insanity by Cameron Cole. “Anyone who dwells in American suburbia watches families every day make costly sacrifices to the Great Deity of College Admissions.”

Ask Alice: Children and Teens with ADHD with Dr. Dale Wisely In this episode of Ask Alice, Alice talks to an expert in the field of ADHD, Dr. Dale Wisely. They talk about the behavioral symptoms, the varying degrees of severity and prevalence in today’s society.

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