God cares deeply about education. He has been the great educator from Adam and Eve through ancient Israel through the eras of the Church, right up to today. He has even established formal education throughout history. Today, His headquarters on Earth is home to Imperial Academy—our kindergarten through high school—and Herbert W. Armstrong College.
These schools are a wonderful blessing. But whether you attend them or not, you too should care deeply about godly education. This article aims to help you. More importantly, it shows you something most parents don’t realize: The principal of your child’s education is you.
‘The Hearts of the Children’
God promised that before Jesus Christ’s return, He would send a man like Elijah the prophet (Malachi 4:5). This is how He summarized the work of this man: “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers …” (verse 6).
God used Herbert W. Armstrong to fulfill this prophecy (request your free copy of A Pivotal Sign of the End Time). When he died, his successors destroyed his legacy—but the Philadelphia Church of God continues the Elijah work God did through Mr. Armstrong. That work includes warning, preaching and teaching.
When Mr. Flurry established the pcg’s K–12 school in 2008, he focused on Malachi 4:5-6 in a Church news article titled “Imperial Academy Essential for Our Age.” “This is a prophecy for right now,” he wrote. “We are living in a very dangerous time, where you have ministers and members in danger of losing their eternal lives. But this prophecy also talks about turning the hearts of children to fathers and fathers to children within our families!—lest God come and smite the Earth with a curse. The emphasis is on what we need to be doing in our families. Imperial Academy will help our families see how to do that better. One commission God gives His Church is to feed the flock. We can do a lot of that through Imperial Academy. It will help to lift the standard in our families worldwide” (emphasis added throughout).
From its inception, the goal of God’s school was to help families. Its goal was to help turn parents’ and children’s hearts to one another.
“We must get our young people ready for the Second Coming. The number one way to do that is through the family. That is always key to everything. After that, this school is the major way we can do that in this Church right now. And we can help the families do an even better job. We have a tremendous responsibility toward our families.”
The priority here is clear. The responsibility for a child starts with his parents. Godly education—whether at a formal school, an online school, or through the Church’s media—exists to help parents.
A Three-Part Formula
When Mr. Armstrong established Imperial’s predecessor school in 1958, the Good News summarized God’s educational system this way. First, it said, parents are to instruct and train their children in the way of God. Second, ministers and teachers whom God has called are to instruct parents and children, teaching how to educate and supplementing the education in the home. Third, special skills are to be taught by people trained in particular fields of occupation and skill—which is not a function of the Church.
The first part of a child’s education is training from parents! You see this in many scriptures like Deuteronomy 4:9; 6:7; 11:18-21; Psalm 78:4-7; and Ephesians 6:4. You are your child’s primary educator!
Then God provides priests and ministers and teachers for His people. The role of ministers in the true Church includes a great deal of teaching (e.g. 1 Timothy 3:2; 4:11; 6:2; 2 Timothy 2:2; Titus 2:4). And among the offices in the Church, Christ supplies teachers—like those at Imperial Academy and Armstrong College (Ephesians 4:8-11).
“God expects His Church to help families fulfill their potential,” Mr. Flurry wrote (ibid). This school is a wonderful way to do that.” He also wrote, “Parents have the critical responsibility of preparing those children. Then the Church assists through ministerial counseling, Imperial Academy (kindergarten through high school), Philadelphia youth camps, classes at Church services, and Herbert W. Armstrong College” (Isaiah’s End-Time Vision). These institutions of God’s one true Church do not take over from parents, but assist parents.
“This is God’s plan for education,” the Good News wrote. “It is a perfect balance between the home, the Church and the schools.” And this perfect balance must be in that priority order: home, Church, schools.
This doesn’t mean you personally do all the educating of your child from character development to primary schooling through career preparation. It means you are responsible for it and must be involved. You cannot delegate responsibility for how your child is educated.
The Highest Human Office
The invaluable booklet Child Rearing With Vision makes some lightning-bolt remarks about this parental duty.
Speaking of the Fifth Commandment, “Honour thy father and thy mother,” the booklet emphasizes that this follows the first four commandments, which require love toward God, and says its ultimate purpose is to teach children to honor God. Then it makes this dynamite statement: “The Fifth Commandment requires all men to honor the highest human office—that of parents.” Did you realize that, in God’s eyes, parents hold the highest human office to their children?
Satan influences this world with his fatally poisonous mix of good and evil (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9). As the booklet points out, that includes worldly systems of education. Under Satan’s influence, many worldly educators use their influence in twisted, deceitful ways that are getting worse every school year. Note this statement: “[T]hrough public schools constantly expanding their size and scope, by taking the child away from the parents in whatever way possible—anything he can do to make parents forget that they are the prime educators for their developing children!” (ibid).
Don’t forget this! If you think educating them is the school’s job and you can just step away, your children will suffer. “Don’t wait for a schoolteacher to educate your child,” the booklet says. “You should view all schoolteachers as your assistants, not as your child’s primary educators.”
You may not think of yourself this way, but if you are a parent, you are an educator. You are the principal over your little school. You are the pastor over a little congregation. You don’t do all the teaching yourself, but you control it—because God holds you responsible for the mental, moral and spiritual development of your pupils! Don’t shirk this obligation, embrace it! With God’s help, you can seize this glorious opportunity. And for those in God’s Church, this is invaluable training for your eternal calling as a teacher! You are called to educate Christ’s children forever! God has given you the opportunity to practice and prepare for that job.
How can you educate your children? This too we can see as a three-part formula.
Children need restraint. 1 Timothy 3:4-5 say a father must be a man “that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.” The child rearing booklet says the reason we bring our children into subjection is so we can teach them—most importantly, teach them how to honor and to love God. Unrestrained children cannot be educated.
Many parents and other authorities fail to set boundaries for young people. They are careless or too trusting of teens regarding technology, friends, curfews and other areas. Fearing confrontation, they try to coax their children into right behavior. If they set rules, they don’t enforce them. This makes these teens easy prey for Satan’s attacks. Besides this, unrestrained children are unhappy.
David’s son Adonijah led a tragic life; this talented young man experienced and caused terrible destruction. Why? God blamed David because he had never disciplined Adonijah (1 Kings 1:6). Like many parents today, David just did not tell his son no.
There are definite areas of life where you must tell your child no, and enforce that no. Proverbs 29:15 says that when you lovingly, firmly use “the rod and reproof”—discipline—you give your child wisdom.
Even as your children grow and you teach them to make more and more of their own decisions, you must still restrain them. Know what your child is doing, set rules for him, and enforce those rules. You are God’s first (and sometimes last) line of defense protecting your child from turning into someone who is miserable and who makes others miserable. Use authority. Have courage. When you see something that violates God’s law of love, put your foot down. God will bless you. You have the authority; you just need to use it.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). In addition to restraining your child from evil, you must also devote time and attention to instructing him in the good, and teaching him to choose for himself to avoid evil and embrace good.
Your children have an incredible potential in this life and far beyond it. They don’t reach that potential by accident. It takes years of instruction, explanation, demonstration. Many of your conversations and interactions with your children should be teaching: teaching them your expectations, teaching about facts, creation, history, current events, relationships, morality, life. Your child needs you to explain how to eat properly, how to pick up after himself, how to obey instructions, how to respect all those in authority, how to work hard, how to get along with others, how to be a sportsman, how to discern between right and wrong, why things are the way they are.
God gave your child the ability to think and reason for himself. That is what you are training. “Teaching mindless obedience is not proper child rearing,” Child Rearing With Vision says. “Truly effective child rearing is teaching your child’s mind. … Child rearing is a balanced combination of teaching and reinforcing physical habits as well as spiritual values. Both involve teaching your child’s mind.” You must instruct, train, guide not just your child’s physical and mental potential, but his incredible, eternal, spiritual potential!
The child rearing booklet contains a section (pages 65-69) written by Royal Vision editor in chief Gerald Flurry containing specifics we must teach our children. It also contains this wonderful formula: “To have happy, well-adjusted children with a right attitude, remember to love them, teach by example, and discipline in love. It boils down to 85 percent love, 10 percent teaching by example, and 5 percent correction in love. None of us will ever do it perfectly 100 percent of the time, but it certainly is a goal that God wants each of us to attain.”
In Ephesians 6:1-4, God commands fathers to “bring [our children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The words here connote teaching, rearing, maturing, tutoring, training, disciplining, nourishing, cherishing. The root word for “admonition” denotes the intellect, the thought, the feeling, the will, the understanding, the mind.
Look how active God expects a parent to be with his child! And notice that God specifically addresses this to fathers. Instruct, teach, train your child in the knowledge he needs, and teach him how to think for himself, how to use that great God-given gift of his mind!
Many children are averse to developing their minds. They detest education and study. Students commonly brag about their ignorance and their refusal to study and learn.
What a tragedy! The fact is, people who lack good education can be led around by the nose by Satan’s lies, and this is increasingly happening to younger generations.
Do all you can to fight this ugly tendency of human nature in your children. Encourage them, excite them, ignite the fire of passion in them to love learning.
Don’t underestimate what your child can do. Set the bar high: A’s, not B’s; organized, timely consistent work of the highest quality. You will be amazed at what they are capable of when high expectations are asked of them. God wants us to work with all our might, seeking perfection! (Ecclesiastes 9:10; Matthew 5:48). Help your child to always aim for that standard in academic and other worthwhile endeavors.
Your child’s main job in life right now is education: to drink in instruction and devour knowledge. Your job is to be his principal educator. With God’s help, work to fulfill this role at the highest level possible, and prod your child to achieve at the highest level possible.
Whether at a rough public school, a prestigious private school, the school administered by God’s true Church or homeschool, children are always most successful when their parents remain involved. “Effective parents are fully aware of their child’s school, school administrators and their policies” (ibid). The more involved you are and the more you know what’s going on, the better chance your student has. Ensure they’re staying on top of homework assignments, studying for tests, and meeting deadlines. Reach out to your child’s teachers and administrators to have a clear picture of how he or she is doing. Remember: “Parents! God holds you—not your child’s teacher—responsible for your child’s schooling” (ibid).
Through all this, maintain the long-term goal of gradually transitioning responsibility onto your child so he will have the self-discipline to be successful once he leaves home. Part of this requires that you avoid sheltering your child from the consequences of his own mistakes. If he fails to study for a test and fails the test, for example, he should fail that test—then learn from that experience and do better the next time. If the teacher sets a deadline, the student should meet that deadline. If he misses it, he shouldn’t expect an extension. Teachers and parents don’t help a child by “going easy.” They teach the child irresponsibility and poor character. Take the long-term view and ensure your child learns responsibility and accountability when young.
God wants your child to be great! He wants you to be a great parent! He wants you to have a great relationship with your son or daughter. That is why He gives you so much instruction in the Bible and through His Church. He wants your family to achieve this, not just so you can better enjoy your day-to-day life, or to prepare your child for a high-paying job—but so you can help your child achieve his or her incredible human potential. He wants your child to safely, fully, richly develop in mind, in body and in character. He wants to give your child a dazzling future!
That is why He has given your child his or her own, personal, interested, committed, loving, principal educator: you.