The “Garden” of a Child’s Mind

In his excellent book Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting, William Farley offers these thoughtful and challenging insights that every parent and teacher should consider:

I have heard many fathers say, “I teach, but my teaching is informal. I teach when we are fishing. I teach when we are in the car or at the ball game.” Bible teaching should be informal, but we shouldn’t use this as an excuse to ignore formal teaching. Some fear formal, structured teaching. If I make my children sit down to rigid, formal instruction, they will reject the faith.

Children don’t reject our faith because of too much formal Bible teaching. They reject it because we don’t practice it. They reject it because we practice it but do not value it enough to teach it to them. Or they reject it because they never receive new birth. But too much knowledge is not the problem. A lack of knowledge usually is the problem.

Our children’s minds are like spiritual gardens, notes William Gurnall (1617-1679), one of the great seventeenth-century Puritan preachers.”This is the difference between religion and atheism; religion doth not grow without planting, but will die even where it is planted without watering. Atheism, irreligion, and profaneness are weeds that will grow without setting, but they will not die without plucking up.”

Gurnall was right. No garden is a vacuum. Something grows. Untended ground—untaught minds—will yield weeds. But we want fruit, not weeds, and fruit grows only by planting, weeding, and fertilizing with great persistence. If you don’t want weeds, you must teach your children regularly and intentionally.  (2009, pages 178-179)

Photo Credit: Biswarup Ganguly on Wikimedia

Written by Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson is a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher and author. She has taught Sunday School for over 20 years and writes God-centered curriculum for Children Desiring God.

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