When anyone teaches the story of Hannah, they tend to focus on the interaction between Hannah, Eli and God. After a discussion of Hannah’s fervent prayer, the teacher will usually fast forward to a few years later when Hannah fulfills her promise to God and leaves little Samuel with Eli. Hannah’s actions have a lot to teach us, but we are missing out on someone else who is just as pivotal in this story in his own way – Elkanah.
Elkanah was Samuel’s father and Hannah’s husband. The scripture actually tells us more about the kind of man Elkanah was than we think. You see Hannah was able to “parent like Hannah” because Elkanah was the husband and father Hannah and Samuel needed him to be. So what can Elkanah teach fathers who want to dedicate their children to God?
When Jesus told the people to love others as they loved themselves, I imagine most of them thought, “That one is easy”. On the surface, I would imagine most of us think of ourselves as being kind and helpful the majority of the time. Jesus was really asking us to go beyond that though. I think when you put this command with others in the Bible about caring for our neighbors, widows, orphans, the poor, our brothers and sisters in Christ and a host of others, there is a deeper message.
A large part of caring for others is the ability to be empathetic. It is entirely too easy to accidentally become like the other people in the story of the “Good Samaritan.” How many times have we walked by someone who is sad, either assuming someone else would take care of it or not even really seeing the person or her pain? We need to train ourselves and our children to see the hurting people around us, identify how they are hurting and then help them in the best possible ways. I believe developing a strong sense of empathy can make us more like the loving Christians Jesus was really calling us to be.
Most Christians will tell you faith is a huge part of living a Christian life. The Bible has chapter after chapter that discusses faith – what it is and its importance to the believer. The problem in our modern world is that the skeptics our children will encounter dismiss faith and demand only “logical” responses to their challenges.
How can parents encourage the faith that is “sure of what is hoped for and certain of what we do not see” in our children? (Hebrews 11:1) Is there a way to use logic without compromising faith? How can we prepare our children to have faith when surrounded by skeptics in the media, in their classrooms and in the world around them?
For years I have heard over and over again about trusting your gut. My first advisor of the gut theory was a successful magazine publisher. On the train back from a sales trip, he regaled me with business stories from his youth. He counseled; that when I had a tough decision to make, I should trust my gut.
After my daughter was born, I got lots of advice about natural instincts and trusting my gut when parenting. I started believing it myself. I had a couple of times when I disagreed with my pediatrician. The good girl in me followed his advice, only to find out my “gut” was a better doctor.
As the years have passed though, I have noticed something. The “trust your gut” saying has become so common that it is becoming an excuse for poor parenting decisions. Suddenly Johnny isn’t disciplined, because it just “felt right” to let him run wild. Children aren’t fed healthy meals because “my gut” just told me they would eat what they needed.
Most children seem to collect something or several somethings during their years at home. Many adults continue these collections or add new ones. There must be something about human nature that enjoys collecting things. I don’t think it is necessarily motivated by greed, because there are some rather strange collections out there. My guess is that it has more to do with the “thrill of the chase” or the excitement of accomplishing a goal.
Collections can teach your child a lot of godly lessons. She can learn how to manage her money well, how to care for things she has been blessed with and how to be a good steward in general. Many children start out collecting rocks, stamps, coins or other every day items. What if we encouraged our children to start a different kind of collection? One that would still fulfill many of their collection needs and teach some additional godly lessons.