We went to church out at Zion, Cologne, Mn this morning. Paul was the pastor there for many years. I say " out at" because this is a rural congregation. They still have a parochial school with the church that runs K-8th grade. All eight of our children attended that school, most of them for all eight grades.
Every year they have a confirmation reunion Sunday, and Paul loves seeing the (now all grown up ) kids he had in confirmation class. He absolutely loved teaching confirmation, and the kids, for the most part, loved him back. It was one of the things he missed most when he became ill and had to resign.
The pastor that took over for him was astounded to learn that he would be teaching confirmation class at the school at least four mornings every week. He said that teaching confirmation was certainly NOT one of his favorite activities. He had had many behavior problems with the kids at that age, and found teaching them a struggle.
One year later the same guy confessed to Paul that his very favorite part of his time at Zion was teaching confirmation. When asked why, he explained what brought about his change of heart. He said that when he had taught at other churches and would tell parents about their children's misbehavior in class, the parents always defended the child. Out at Zion, if a child's parents were brought in because of misbehavior, there was no question, that child was in for some straightening out at home. The parents rarely, if ever sided with the child.
If I had my parenting to do over again, I would do a lot less defending of my children. The fourth commandment says, "Honor your father and mother." Luther asks, in his catechism, "What does God require of us in the fouth commandment?" He answers this question with four duties. We are to honor our parents and other authorities by regarding them as God's representatives, we should serve them by gladly providing what they need or require, we should obey them in everything in which God has placed them over us, and we are to love and cherish them as precious gifts of God.
Okay, parents, that leaves your child precious little wiggle room in which to disrespect their teachers, or youth leaders, or coaches. So, the next time you want to rise up in righteous infdignation in defence of your precious baby, claiming that their "rights" (not God given that I can see.) have been violated, check the list to make sure your child has first been respectful, served that authority gladly, obeyed them, and loved them. Once your child knows that their behavior is going to be scrutinized before the teacher's behavior or the coach's decision, you will be amazed at how few times they come whining to you.
There were quite a few people back for these confirmation class reunions. They remember their time at Zion fondly. Several even stood to thank their pastors and teaches for the firm foundation of faith that was planted so deeply in their hearts.
They can thank their parents, too, for expecting them to learn, and behave. And for supporting the teachers and pastors as God commands us to do.