Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Duties of Parents

Jacobus Koelman (1632-95) was a Dutch pastor and prolific Christian writer. His best known book was a treatise titled The Duties of Parents in which he instructs parent on how to disciple and nurture faith in their children. Here are a few of his exhortations to parents:

33. Accustom your children at an early age to be still and reverent when there is praying, singing, or Scripture reading in the family. Let them know that you greatly value it if on those occasions they sit still and do not speak or do anything.

34. Take your children to church at an early age, even though they do not yet understand anything. Accustom them to the service of God and to the holy worship services—to sit still and to be silent. Let it not be too much trouble for you to take your children along with you, just as in olden times the Israelites took their children along with them to the solemn rites of religion. Do not permit them to sleep, to play, or to speak to you in church. Do not give them anything to eat in church, but when they come out of the church with you, then give them something if they sat still….

36. Teach them to read, and send them to school that has a pious schoolteacher, male or female, with whom the children learn godliness and the first principles of religion. In addition, ask the schoolmaster or schoolmistress to keep a special eye on your children. If you are able, pay them something extra for their concern and effort. But also if you are poor, you must send your children to school so that they learn to read and write, for it is most useful and necessary for them to be able to read Holy Scriptures and good books. Besides, it is an important means of enabling them to be well instructed with a view to their salvation. This may not be neglected by any parents who seek what is good for their children. However, if the schools are very bad (as they usually are), then teach them yourself to spell and to read, and encourage them if they learn well and take pleasure in it….

38. Let them learn the Lord’s Prayer by heart, and tell them that the Lord Christ has prescribed that prayer. Also, explain, insofar as it is possible, what those words mean. However, do not let them pray that prayer every time but only now and then. It would be better to let them use a few words from that prayer in your own prayer, the prayer with which you lead them in prayer, insofar as they can understand that.

Source: Jacobus Koelman, The Duties of Parents (Baker Academic, 2003): pp. 49-50.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Note: Evangel article May 12, 2009.

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