As the summer settles in and the schooling of our children begins to transform into parties, picnics, and beaches, it is good to remember that our responsibilities to educate our kids did not end in May. Our work continues through the summer months. This is not to say we shouldn’t play, we should! Nor is this to say we shouldn’t rest, we must! Yet, in our rest and play we must not neglect our work.
God is a worker. He has created the universe, a world, a garden, and a human race to rule over it. By default, humans created in God’s image are workers. We’ve been created with a creation mandate to fill, subdue, and rule the earth. This is easy to forget and even easier to despise. Work is hard, and our labors are often accompanied by difficulties. It is easy to forget our assignment to work began not as a burden but as a blessing.
In a recent article, Peter Leithart quotes John Milbank reminding us that, “Labor is not the consequence of the fall, only the debasement of labor. God himself is fundamentally and primordially a worker, and our work is pleasurable because it is the creative tending of God’s universe.” We must remember that there is pleasure in our royal status and indeed in our royal obligations. As kings over creation we have the benefits and blessings that accompany our dignified status as God’s image bearers.
It is important to keep these blessings in mind as we toil through a fallen and cursed world. We have a task that is set before us and this task is a blessing filled responsibility. We often work to provide necessities consistent with flourishing families. Yet, we also must recognize that our jobs, our work, do more than provide food, clothing, and shelter. Leithart tell us rightly that
Work isn’t simply the production of necessities. It isn’t something we “do” with no implications for who we are. There is a right instinct in the tendency to identify oneself as electrician, teacher, engineer, business owner, or financial advisor. It’s through our work that we are realized as human beings, as the particular individual humans we are.
In our professions, we come to identify with how we are fulfilling the creation mandate. Our humanity is put on display! This is of no little consequence, especially for our Smith Prep families committed to home educating their students in our hybrid model.
We are working hard to raise children who believe the gospel. We are working hard to equip each of our children with the resources to fill, subdue, and rule. We toil with our children because we have a responsibility, an obligation.
Stay alert to those teaching moments. Read to your children or read with them, a novel or story. Discuss the themes that stand out. Tell stories about your past that have shaped you and made you into the person you are now. Go on adventure and create new stories with your kids.
Demonstrate godliness in all your actions, in the treatment of your family as well as your treatment of strangers. Your kids are watching you and they will emulate you. Put virtue on display. Allow them see to you make some hard decisions and teach them that the easy decisions are not always the right decisions. Be consistent and allow your children to see your character in action.
Aristotle said “virtues are formed in a man by his doing the actions.” It is in the consistent repetition of life that habits and dispositions are formed. If we want our children to develop good habits, we must keep a good schedule. That is not to say that we can’t make exceptions now and again, but a healthy schedule is a consistent schedule. Schedule certain times to read, talk, serve, and play! Planning and providing opportunities for our children will help them grow and develop into good students.
As parents we have work to do. Fulfilling this obligation is not easy. Yet, we must not forget that it is an honor, privilege, and blessing to be given such a noble task. Through your efforts, your humanity and God’s glory are on display. Let’s keep working.