When we ask a child why they did something, we all have heard the standard answer “I dunno”. Most children primarily do not intentionally make decisions that have bad or negative consequences. They want to please, and they want to do what they think is best. (I know people have a sinful nature . . . but work with me here…) People, even young people, want to succeed and be good at things. However, when teaching why something is taught, and what the consequences are, there are two things working against you: selfishness, and short sightedness.
Selfishness is a sin, it is rooted in pride, and we all are born with it, and continue to have problems with it to some degree or another. I believe pride is the root of all sin because it is what caused the fall of Lucifer prior to the creation of the world and man (read the account of this in Isaiah 14:12-14 and count how many prideful statements Satan makes prior to his fall), and we all know the effect that has and continues to have on creation and man. Only by Gods help, and our recognizing it, can we work to eliminate this sin. A sound Christian school recognizes this sin of selfishness/pride, and deals with it effectively, and teaches what the consequences of it are. Hebrews 12:11 is a great verse for a purpose for discipline: “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Shortsightedness is the other thing working against you. A young person’s brain does not fully develop the mental capacity to consider the consequences of a decision or action until they are in their 20’s. Most children, even most teenagers, cannot think “down the road”, or into the future. Their world is small. Their ability to think into the future is limited to a short time, and probably not even to the next day. But, forward thinking (another way of calling it), is something that can and has to be taught. Educators MUST take a step back and understand that, and then help the child, with patience and understanding, to develop that thought process of considering the implications of their decision or actions. Sort of an “if you do this, then this is what will happen” approach.
The Christian schooling cliché passage of Proverbs 22:6 is so appropriate here: “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” We can learn and apply a lot from that verse by unpacking it. “Train up” is the first word, and is an action verb. Training takes effort, continual time, and discipline, and its original Hebrew term also has connotations to our term “narrowly” which means focused on specific and worthwhile tasks, doctrine, or guidelines. It implies biblical based training is the doctrine and guideline to use by the context of the passage. The term “the way” means a course of life. Couple that with the statement mentioned in a prior post 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”, and you have a sound reason and basis for teaching that actions have consequences, and for teaching discernment in how to make decisions.
My next post will be on teaching HOW to make decisions.