Back to School, Back to Basics

Paul's wise words are a great way to start off a school year: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (II Timothy 2:15)

By Caryl Krueger

Categories: Nehemiah, School

For most youngsters it is "back to the books" time this month, and one book the family should go back to is the Bible book of First Timothy. While many of Paul's messages to Timothy are meant for his young disciple to relay to the churches, Paul also has wonderful personal advice for any young student. It is believed that Timothy was about fourteen years old when he first began to work with Paul, who called him his "dearly beloved son."

As a parent, you can share with your 'dearly beloved' son or daughter Paul's wise words (II Timothy 2:15): "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." The Fenton translation begins with "exert yourself," and this is what we are hoping youth will do in school: exert themselves to be good students.

But these students are approved by God, which mean they are His witness, His likeness in action - on the playground and sports field as well as in the classroom. As this likeness, a child can be spared injury, bullying, mistakes, and discouragement for he will be an example of goodness that others will see and follow, rather than envy or hurt.

Come exam time, there will be no need "to be ashamed" if the student has kept his life in balance, giving time first for God, then family, then academics and other activities. Parents can start their child's day with a filling breakfast and a fulfilling send-off of loving support, recognizing the God-given talent that belongs to each of His children.

But how about "rightly dividing the word of truth?" With Pilate, we may ask, "What is truth?" Other translations put it this way: Cut a straight path, deal in a straight forward way, divide the right from the wrong. This type of decision-making action rules out lame excuses for work undone or done poorly. The goal is wisdom. Keep your eye on it, go straight for it without detours into laziness or half-hearted effort.

Keep this passage from Paul at your breakfast table. Talk about it, one phrase at a time. As a shepherd cares for the flock, as a teacher nurtures a student, so a parent must reinforce the message of "Knowledge is power." With your support, you will find that your 'dearly beloved' youngster can surely be that workman/woman who can separate fiction from fact, error from truth, and limitations from the boundless joys of learning and excelling.