Seeing Your Child's Worth

© Copyright 1995, Mark Roth

(Principal's message originally written to
parents of Elliott Prairie Christian School)

[C]hildren are born with intrinsic value. Any child born in any setting to any type of parent(s) under any circumstance is of immeasurable worth. Any child. All children. Expected or unexpected. Wanted or unwanted. Loved or unloved. Such is the way of God.

The child's brand and durability establish his intrinsic value. Since God created the child and stamped him with His image, the child has to be of extremely high worth. Since the child is alive to live forever, he has to be incredibly valuable.

The redemptive life and death of the Son of God further enhances this instrinsic worth of the child. The enormity of the price paid for the child defies human price fixation.

So there we have it: God established the child's worth. Nobody better do anything to challenge or redefine that worth. No parent. No philosophy. No society. Nothing.

[C]hildren develop practical worth. When they first arrive into the world at conception, they don't amount to much in a practical sense. Though of immeasurable intrinsic value, they have little (or no) practical worth. Through development, training and use, that will change.

Look at it this way: When first built, the computer I use for this article was quite valuable, but terribly useless. But what a difference in its practical worth once software has been added to it! Though my computer had plenty of manufactured value, the teaching I have given it has also given it useful, practical value. My computer's worth was burnished and enhanced by its functionality. As it performed in accordance with its design, it achieved practical perfection.

[C]onsider further this concept of perfection. Godly, Biblical perfection is not a flawless human condition, but a faithful human condition. It is the condition of performing according to design. My glasses are bent, scratched and nicked . . . flawed. But latched on to my ears and perched on my nose, they greatly enhance my vision. As long as they continue to fulfill the function for which they were designed, these spectacles will be perfect.

The child's training gives him practical worth. His perfection comes by faithfulness to God's design for him. We parents and teachers are held accountable by God to develop the child's practical worth and to bring him to functional perfection!

Machinery left to itself rusts, rots and deteriorates -- worthless. A garden left to itself surrenders to weeds, tangles and disease -- worthless. A child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame (Proverbs 29:15) -- worthless. Maintenance, cultivating and disciplined training halt that natural progression downward.

[C]ondemned? I feel very condemned in writing this. I have not been (and am yet not) the faithful parent I should be. I have been neither consistent nor persistent in adding to the worth of my children. I have not focused myself fully nor forcefully in insuring their perfection.

When I deny my children the encouragement they need, I hinder the development of their practical worth and perfection. When I deny my children the instruction they need, I hinder the development of their practical worth and perfection. When I deny my children the discipline they need, I hinder the development of their practical worth and perfection. When I deny my children the sweat and travail of learning the difficult, I hinder the development of their practical worth and perfection.

How are you doing?

[C]ould this possibly have anything to do with school? Yes! Elliott Prairie Christian School exists for the purpose of "helping parents nurture children and youth in the Lord." The staff and board of EPCS wish to do what they can to contribute to the practical worth and perfection of every child . . . yours included.

Public schools, on the other hand, seem hell-bent (literally, I add) on actually depriving the child of worth and functionality. In their alleged pursuit of the child's self-esteem, they do those things which undermine, throw down and shatter the only basis for self-esteem -- WORTH. These Egyptian schools seem to move further and further from fixed values and standards. By denying the child the opportunity to fail, they deprive him of the opportunity to succeed. They seem now inclined to view education as the process by which a child makes decisions for himself, not the process by which a child is instructed in the way that he should go.

We reject this philosophical quicksand. We believe in holding high a clearly fixed standard of excellence . . . and in actively helping the child attain to that. If the child does not apply himself, we believe he is damaging his practical worth and impeding the development of his perfection. If we do not insist the child apply himself and if we do not establish social and educational penalties for not applying himself, we become co-laborers with the devil in depriving God of His just dues.

[C]onsequently, we insist on school work getting done, even if it means homework. (I can talk; as a parent, I know plenty about homework!) We insist on corrections being done when a student exceeds a certain minimum number of problems missed. We insist on learning facts and rules -- times tables, phonics sounds, letter arrangements (known as spelling) and formulas. We give flunking grades . . . and in the process boost the self-esteem of the child who can then go on to the glory of improving grades.

We do not believe a child's worth is at all enhanced by encouraging him to underachieve. So we expect each child to do as much as his classmates do. We also do what we can to avoid any form of bias or favoritism. Therefore, we try to give the same assignments to all children taking the same subject in the same grade. To do otherwise would be to pattern the child to expect less of himself.

[C]an parents also help the school in this process? Of course! We ask you to please encourage your child(ren) in the pursuit of excellence. Teach them to work hard and to concentrate well. Don't give them the notion that they are special in such a way that they do not have to do as much as others do. If they are weak in a certain area (spelling, multiplication or whatever), drill them instead of trying to lighten the load. In the long run, knowing the material will lighten the load! Skimping on work now will make the load tremendously heavy later.

[C]onsider this yet: Schools and learning are not necessary evils. They are not even options. The state demands them. But even more than that, God commands parents and teachers: "Train up a child in the way he should go..." (Proverbs 22:6).

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