Some older friends of mine experienced something interesting a few years ago. They were asked by women in their twenties and thirties to do a Bible study which also taught them how to cook. They had been so busy with school and activities during their years at home; no one had taught them how to cook. While it created an outreach opportunity for my friends, Christian parents may want to seriously consider teaching their children as many practical skills as possible.
Why? The best outreach efforts of the church involve serving others and mission work. Those opportunities almost always involve practical skills like painting, carpentry, cooking, gardening, teaching, first aid and more. Yet we send out people who have little or no practical skills in these areas to “serve” those in need. Often, with the best of intentions, we leave a bigger mess than was there before we arrived. What does it say to those we “served” when we leave their walls covered in dried paint drips or the garden they were depending on for food fails to grow because we didn’t know how to teach them to keep it alive?
Are we accurately reflecting God’s love to them? Will they want to hear about God from someone who acts as if they have all of the answers for the problems in the lives of these people, but clearly shows they have no idea in the simple practical things? How could they possibly be right about something as important and complex as God?
I’m not saying your children should be able to build a house from scratch or win a bake-off. They should however, be able to aptly serve others in practical ways. If you don’t know how to do some of these things yourself, even better. It creates an opportunity for you to bond with your child as you learn together. A lot of places like Home Depot regularly offer free classes in a variety of practical areas. Ask skilled people in your congregation to hold practical workshops. Grab a book from the library and practice together what you learn.
Many of you are questioning how you will work all of this skill training into your child’s busy calendar. I urge you to consider what your child is actually getting from the current activities. Are you hoping for a full athletic college scholarship for your child? The odds are slim unless your child is incredibly talented. Is your child spending time learning godly things or does the activity expose your child regularly to kids who are encouraging your child to experiment with alcohol, drugs and sex? Don’t just follow the crowd, but honestly examine activities to see if they are helping your child grow in the proper direction. My guess is for many of you, this examination will allow you to eliminate one or more activities from your family calendar.
When you add these practical learning activities to your family time instead, the benefits can be tremendous. Your family bonds strengthen. Your ability as a family to serve others in meaningful ways increases. Your opportunities to share your faith will increase. Your children will have practical skills to help them save money when they are adults. They may even pick up some godly attributes like patience, perseverance and a strong work ethic in the process. So grab a hammer and a paintbrush, get out the pots and pans and teach your children some practical skills. It’s worth the effort.