It has been several weeks since my last post on the series of Rules of Conduct of students in a Christian School. So lets “jump right back in the pool” and discuss repentance. It is a MUST for the soundness of a Christian school! If a situation in your school is disciplinary, then repentance is required for resolution, closure, learning, and advancement. The Bible clearly teaches that repentance must be taught, and is a requirement of true humility, true forgiveness, and ultimately true salvation. (Luke 24:47, 2 Corinthians 7:10 to mention just a few) Some churches minimize this teaching, but that does not negate its requirement. Recall a previous post of mine about pride? Recall that I think it is the root of all sin? If it is the root of sin, then pride must be really hated by God. Genuine repentance is totally devoid of pride. If we are to have salvation from the penalty of sin, and to be without sin in the eyes of God, there must be true repentance of sin. Taking that to the disciplinary situation with a student, if the child is to learn and move forward, they must repent of their wrongdoing.
Lets get back to teaching the process of how to make decisions (notice I used the term “process”, and keep that in mind). As a suggestion, teaching students how to make decisions can go like this: After a period of explaining “why” to the younger child, then as they grow, encourage the child to explain in their own words to you “why”. Being able to consider “why”, or to reflect “why” is an ability that must be taught and exercised. When teaching a topic or subject, pause for a moment, and ask the student or class “why do you need to learn this”? Or, “why is this important to know”. “Why” some times is a segway to the next topic or subject, as the lesson may build on the previous lesson, and moving on cannot occur until the previous “why” is known.
If the situation is disciplinary, ask the child “Why is this wrong?” If appropriate, ask them to give their answer as the reason why, and then explain what they think the consequence would be. This teaches them the valuable thought process, and teaches them to develop their moral compass. School age students are not very good at thinking things through. That is mostly because their mind has not developed enough to process that kind of linear thought or play out a scenario in their mind. So understand that and have patience with them, but still work with them to develop that disciplined thought process. Teach them to ask themselves “If I do this, what will happen?”. “Is this choice what God would want me to do?” Those kind of quick assessments in the student’s mind need to be taught, rehearsed, practiced, and reinforced. It is that thought process that will make repentance of wrongdoing much more palatable.
When teaching repentance, explain to the students it is much more than “I am sorry”. (Don’t even use the term “sorry”, use the term “repent”, it is more accurate, and more biblical of a term, especially in a Christian school.) The repentant person is not only sorry for their wrong doing, but they genuinely regret doing it, and will do all they can to not do it again. To use a military term, they do an “about face” and turn 180 degrees and walk away from doing it again.. Repentance must be genuine, and needs to be done internally, in the student’s heart, and outwardly, by stating it to the offended person. Repentance is necessary for forgiveness, and to have their “slate wiped clean.”
Encourage immediate repentance. The sooner the child can come to the understanding of their wrong behavior, repent, forgive, learn from the situation and move on, the better for all involved. Review Psalm 51 where David realized his sins and repented. Several phrases stand out to me in that passage, and one in particular is that although David sinned against several people, he realized in verse 4 that he sinned against God. That concept has to be taught and understood with your students. Repentance must occur to those offended, AND to God. Thanks to Jesus, reconciliation comes from Him, and God actually sees us as He seed Jesus – sinless and righteous. The first few verses of Romans 5 and 1 John 2 explain this.
Repentance was so important to Jesus, that when He officially began His ministry here on earth, he began with the word Repent!. (Matthew 4:17)