In 1996, Staples® presented its back-to-school commercial “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and it quickly became a popular favorite among the parents. I was about to turn 16 when it became a TV hit and remember thinking how deliriously happy the father was in contrast to his kids’ misery.
That year, I was headed into my sophomore year of high school. I can recall my first few days of school, riding the bus and looking out over the student parking lot. I had a slow-growing fear that there would be no way I could ever pass my driver’s exam and learn to park in such a crowded place.
Parking in the student lot… that’s what I was worried about in 1996.
Now, as a parent of three young, impressionable children — I don’t have the same feelings of elation the 90’s parents experienced at the beginning of school. 2021 doesn’t ring in with as much merriment, and sometimes I don’t feel like it’s the most wonderful time of the year at all.
I wrestle with all sorts of emotion as I wave goodbye to my kids boarding the bus, where they head off into an environment with so much uncertainty.
- PPE Dividers
- Social Distancing
- Critical Race Theory
- Black lives
- Blue Lives
- Private Education
In 1996, words and phrases like these were never regular topics on the nightly news. They weren’t written about in school newsletters and rarely found their way into everyday conversation. And, YES, for some of these issues, I am 100% thankful the conversation has changed.
But today’s generation has experienced such a shift in their worldview. As parents, we send our children out into the frontlines in an increasingly secular age that looks at Christianity with contempt and hostility.
But every time I start to fear the unknown or worry the toxicity of this world will seep into the veins of my babies and infect their fragile minds and hearts, I have to pause and remember whose they are.
I have to stop and remember to whom they belong.
The Hebrew word for “heritage” used here is “nachalah” (nakh-al-aw’), and it means possession, property, or inheritance.
Our children are the Lord’s possession and His reward.
But while we’re living on this side of Heaven, He’s entrusted them to us to parent.
So when thoughts of worry, fear, and doubt begin to pollute my mind, I have to pause and recognize the enemy’s unoriginal tactics. I have to put my full armor on and ready myself for war (Ephesians 6:10-18).
But I also have to remind myself who the enemy is…and is not.
My enemy is not the person or interest group with the ideology that assaults the Truth of the Gospel. My enemy is not the school system that seems to cater to the loudest voices — especially when those voices are shouting in protest against my belief system. My enemy is not the teacher or professor assigning projects or presenting a curriculum that diametrically opposes my faith and values. My enemy is not the parent who posts hate-stirring rhetoric on Facebook.
My enemy is — the Father of Lies.
Lying is Satan’s primary weapon against us.
So we have to combat his lies with God’s truth (John 14:16).
I have to speak, read, and sing the truth to remind myself that I am here for such a time as this. I am parenting for such a time as this. I am raising warriors for such a time as this (Esther 4:14).
And so are you.
God knew we would live in our specific country, state, city, and school district. He knew which particular school, college, or university our kids would attend and which teachers and professors they’d have. And He knew the exact table or desk our children would sit at or in which dorm bunkbed our kids would sleep.
Nothing is a surprise to Him.
So as we prepare for back-to-school, I’d like to leave you with some practical ways to combat the lies and armor up! I have seen the evidence of these practices in my own life and the lives of my children. By exercising the power and authority I have as a daughter of El Elyon, the Most High God (Romans 8:15;Psalm 78:35), I can wield weapons of warfare that will tear down any and every stronghold (2 Corinthians 10:4)!
Here are just a few strategies to get you started! After you’ve read through some, I’d love for you to share your activities!
- Anoint your child(ren) and pray over them. This is a symbolic act of consecrating them and setting them apart for the year ahead. (Leviticus 8:10, 1 Samuel 16:13)
- Do a Prayer Walk — Walk around the school (if you’re able) and pray over the school, administration, and staff members. Bring some friends to join in with you.
- Add your children’s teachers/professors to your daily prayers.
- Ask God for specific ways to be salt and light to your community (Matthew 5:13-16).
- Find like-minded Warrior Raisers. We parent better together, and we need one another to sharpen us and help keep us accountable.
- Don’t allow schedules to crowd out corporate worship. You and your family need the fellowship of the church body to bolster your parenting.
- Be active in their education. I’ve heard about the LOLA approach to leading, but I believe it also applies to strategies for safeguarding our children.
- Learn about what they’re learning. Find out what curriculum they’ll be covering, see what books they’re reading, and invest in their learning experience.
- Observe your children. See what they’re watching. Observe them as they interact with peers, and as you pay attention, be present and visible in your parenting.
- Listen to them when they have questions and concerns. Don’t shy away from difficult conversations. They need you to be a sounding board and a source of Biblical wisdom and guidance. You don’t have to have all the answers, but listening is the first step in the conversation.
- Ask probing questions. Ask what they’re learning, what they’re being challenged with, and don’t be afraid of tough topics.
- If your kids are still at home…
- Have family dinner and get the conversation started about the highs and lows of their day. This is a valuable time to uncover their daily experiences.
- Don’t hurry through bedtime routines. You’ll likely find precious moments as you tuck in your child(ren) and pray over them. They find comfort in the process, and there is often a sacred time of sharing.
- If you’re able, get into the school and volunteer. Meet the teachers and form relationships.
- If your kids are headed away to school…
- Send care packages with scripture cards, journals, Bible Studies, or devotionals.
- Send cards with targeted prayer and scriptures.
- Send worship music.
- Send podcasts.
- Schedule weekly calls to pray over them through Skype or FaceTime.
- Be visible and present — even from afar.
Father, I thank You for the parent or grandparent reading this today. I ask for Your divine wisdom to guide them in the school year ahead. We know nothing is a surprise to You and we find comfort in this truth. Though our world may be shifting and changing, You are a faithful God who always stays the same. Thank You for equipping us to parent our children and helping us steward them well. I thank You for the army of Warrior Raisers who are armed with the Truth for such a time as this!
What battle tactics do you/your family employ?
What’s something you will commit to doing to help prepare you and your family for the year ahead?