A Time to Teach

"To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under the heaven."
(Ecclesiastes 3:1)
One of our 'class' time...

There is a time for everything. And for today, it is a time to write about the time to teach, particularly our very own kids.

I have been a teacher for many years, teaching children in language and Bible schools and time came when the time spent teaching other people's children competed with the time spent teaching my own children. It was a tough time for me. I couldn't bear thinking that I was teaching other people's children daily, while not knowing exactly whether my children are being taught. I'm not talking simply about them learning their ABC's or numbers, but when I refer to teaching I'm mostly talking about the perpetual heritage that we, as parents, pass on to our children--- life skills, core values, character.

I had to make a choice. I asked God to help me make a choice and to make it easier for me to make the right choice. God answered. He answered in a way that I was given no choice--- but to make the best choice. I was able to stay home. Now, I had all the responsibility of teaching my children. But after a year, I was called back to teaching at a school. I took the call but now with the knowledge that most of my children's upbringing is dependent on me. I had the wonderful opportunity to teach them myself, along with other children. And I made sure that I also had one-on-one moments with them, in which I was teaching them solely.

I understand the dilemma of most parents. They want to have time to be with their children and teach them about life themselves, but life often hands us unexpected moments and the most we can do is make the best of what we have. Whether you are staying-at-home or working, I know that most parents have a desire to teach what they think their offspring should learn and make use in life.

But living in the world we now are, which seems to go so busy everyday, with so many things clamoring for our attention and distracting us from our set goal of passing on valuable lessons to our children, it seems so easy to lose time and so hard to find the time. What is there to do?  What can we do to have time to teach? Here are some ways/attitudes to make time. I hope they help.

• Be phone-free. I don't know why, but I haven't grown attached to phones. Living in a time and age when most people must have a phone and have phones, I am pretty strange. While living and working Korea, I used a phone that was almost as old as the dinosaurs, considering how fast people change and update their phones in that country. While everyone was whipping out their smart phones in subways and buses, I ignored my flip phone, which was so old and broken that I couldn't see anything on the screen. I can live without my phone, but I don't know about people who wants to keep me in contact. They do get upset when I ignore and haven't checked my phone for days. But considering that it saves me lots of stress, I would rather be phone-free.

I found that this attitude has helped me find time. Setting my phone aside has given me precious time to be with my children and teach them what I want to pass along to them. I am making time for what matters most by putting my phone down. That simple action moves my children's place in my life from significant to highly significant.

• Be interruptible. I have dreams and so do many parents out there. But the process of getting to our dreams at most is not easy and takes time. To get to my dreams, I have to work hard and wait for that time when all my labor brings the anticipated rewards. In the in-between of dreaming and getting to my dream, I find myself preoccupied and focused on my dreams, with an attitude of no-time-to-lose, that I often lose focus on what matters most. Where do my children fit in in all these scheme of things? As important as my dreams are, my children are more important. What if in the process of reaching my dreams, I lose them? What if I get to my dreams and find nobody to celebrate with but myself? Is it worth it? 

Our children will always be part of our dreams, or for the matter, the reason why we should dream. I dream of giving my children a bright future, taking with them the valuable lessons learned from me. So when a little urchin climbs on my lap with a book in her arms asking me to read to her while I'm busy at the computer desk with my dreams, I see an opportunity to make the time to be a parent, to teach. It is a signal that something more important needs me; that here, is something that will make my dreams more wonderful. I get up, we read together, or we go out and run through the grasses or the snow. But I don't do this 100%. There are times I need some reminders (just like this blog post).

When all labor on earth is over, and all has been said and done, we will be glad we allowed ourselves to be interruptible, to stop and be in the moment. We will be glad we chose to live. Our children will be thankful for the time spent with us, and we will always have the wonderful memories spent with the ones we love while we are going for our dreams. The victory of reaching our dreams will be twice the pleasure; with the knowledge that we struggled and made it, while in the process we showed our children that they matter. Most.

Ella's learning moment...
• Be intentional. Whether we like it or not, or whether we teach our children or not, our children will learn what we or the world teaches them. It's up to us to choose who will teach them. Would we rather that our kids grow up learning the tough lessons of life on their own, with their peers and media as their main source of knowledge, than from us? Don't leave your children's life into anybody's hand, after all, she was entrusted into your hands first. You have been given the power and the time you have now determines what they will become tomorrow. Intend to set your children to choose the right path. Intentional seek to have the time to teach them to make it there. Whether it's a choice between the dishes or the children, the mess you will make or the opportunity to teach, choose the children, choose the teaching moment. The dishes can wait. The mess can be cleaned up. Whether it's accepting more responsibility or taking the time to go for a walk with your child, choose what yields a long-term effect on your child. Set your mind to have the time. Be intentional in making the time.

• Be present. In the past children are their parents' apprentice. That's how they learned about life. Doing life together with our kids already teaches them many valuable lessons which they would have not learned or inadequately learned somewhere else. Be there and be a role model. When teaching moments do come, grab the opportunity and lay it heavy. Not with much talking but with lots of example. Ask children for what they think, after all, they have observed your behavior and actions, and talking just confirms what you think and know.

In teaching life, there is a great need to be present and to be in the present. It is what determines our quality of life and relationships. It is what brings us to the future. With the way we live now, it is needed to give up or put away things, even for just awhile, to have the time for what, and more importantly, who is here and now. 

The best gift we can give our children is ourselves. Our presence and our being in the moment with them means more than anything else to them. It teaches them valuable lessons. Or rather yet, they catch the valuable lessons that our lives teach. Make time. Be there.

Yes, there is a time to teach because time will come when we have to refrain from teaching. That time, then, would be time for our children to take with them what we have taught them to survive in a world where we cannot be. So teach, when there is still time. And when we think there's none, make the time. Be phone-free. Be interruptible. Be intentional. Be present. And have the time of your life.

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