home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > November 11th > THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

I have just completed a university degree course on sociology. Sociology is the science of how people interact with each other. It arose as a field of scientific study during the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s. It was during the Industrial Revolution when there was much upheaval in the western world as families were uprooted from their farms and villages to relocate into cities to work in factories. Many previously unheard of social problems arose as a result. People, often living in crammed inner-city conditions, became disconnected with their extended families. These cities became huge drawcards not just for people to move from their rural villages and towns, but also for impoverished immigrants to leave behind their poverty in foreign countries and migrate to countries where they could not speak the language let alone understand the local customs, traditions and laws. It was a French academic, Auguste Comte (1798-1857), who noticed that after the French Revolution (which coincided with the Industrial Revolution) that “a new form of society” was forming, and that this could be scientifically studied. Comte coined the term, sociology and set about to write several books explaining how the scientific method could be applied to study of how the members of a society interacted. Those who came after Comte began to study why some people seemed to grow up to become virtuous contributors to society – who always seemed to have ever increasing opportunities for advancement – and others did not. The universal discovery of all sociologists ever since Comte was starting. The secret to the success of these high achievers, seemingly without exception, was determined by the first five years of their life! Sociologists now describe the first five years of anyone’s life as “the most important years of anyone’s life.” This is particularly important for every parent and educator to know. 

French Philosopher, Auguste Comte, who lived a tragic life and died of stomach cancer at the age of 59. He coined the term, “sociology.”

Consider my picture of the two burning candles. The caption asks, Which candle represents the adult and which candle represents the child? Which candle has been burning longest? From this point in time, which candle has the potential to burn longest?

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

 

WHAT HAPPENS TO A CHILD IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS OF THEIR LIFE?

“Characteristics of personality that are established in the first five formative years will survive into an individual’s adulthood, directing his or her responses to various life situations.”
(Introduction To Sociology, Koichi Kitano, 2013: 57)

Sociologists have discovered that much a person’s future direction in life is largely determined by the extent to which they were socialised in their first years. Being positively socialised depends on the level of interaction a child has with his or her biological parents, the extent to which their boundaries and consequences are clear, the values enforced, their education (distinct from ‘schooling’) and their comprehension of their place in this world. Sociology Professor, Alex Thio (Society Myths and Realities, 2007:73), cites numerous examples of negative instances where these necessary formative aspects were deprived some children and the result was what he calls feral children.

Professor Thio also cites examples where these formative aspects were intentionally provided to some children with extraordinary results. I think that all Christian parents, educators, and disciplers should be aware of why the first five years of a child’s life are the most important years of their when it comes to shaping a person’s personality and character; and, how can each play a critically important role in positively contributing to each child entrusted into our influence.   

For I, too, was once my father’s son,
tenderly loved as my mother’s only child.
Proverbs 4:3 (NLT)

#1. Children need to learn love.

A newborn and growing child is designed by God to immediately experience love. This often involves being hugged and held by his or mother. As both mother and father then demonstrate and model appropriate touch and affection the child develops the psychological security that he or she is loved. This experience of love is then translated into realising that mother has been serving her son or daughter. The child comes to realise that serving is an intrinsic aspect of loving and being loved. Educators and disciplers (Kids Church/Sunday School teachers) are recognised as reinforcing this vision of love which the child’s parents have also established. In this way the growing child realises that his or her loving community extends beyond their family to their church family. The child can come to see that God is his or her loving heavenly Father, and that we love, because He first loved us (1Jn. 4:19). As the child comes to understanding that love involves sacrificial serving they develop the virtue of helpfulness and see it as an honour to help others.

#2. Children need to learn that boundaries and consequences are necessary for a virtuous life.

A newborn and growing child is designed by God to immediately experience boundaries and consequences appropriate to their age. Some boundaries are laws, some are rules, and some are what sociologists call norms. Norms are the way we are supposed to behave even when there is no law or rule telling us we have to. Understanding that life involves learning how to get along with others, a child comes to understand that do so requires learning what the norms are for doing so. These norms are often referred to as “common courtesy” or “being polite” or “showing respect”. By experiencing their mother and father’s boundaries and consequences the young son or daughter can come to see that God has boundaries and consequences for violating them that are designed for our good, because He loves us (1Jn. 4:17-18). As the child comes to understanding that God has ordained certain boundaries with consequences for breaching them they develop the virtue of godliness and see their worship of God as an honour.

#3. Children need to learn that honesty and integrity are essential qualities of a virtuous life.

A child is born a rebel with a disposition to sin, lie, cheat, and steal (and I should know, I was one). The person who said that children are as perfect angels had obviously never had children! Prof. Thio describes a new born child as a tabula rasa (a blank slate, p. 72). But he also says that every child is born with certain “inherited” qualities. Biologists might argue that iis merely genetic but Christians know every child is born with the stain of sin on their soul (Rom. 5:12) because the first man, Adam, represented each us via a genetic connection (1Cor. 15:22). But the good news is that God has made a way for each of us to be set free from the stain of sin through repentance and confession of sins and putting our faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9). Every child needs to be taught to how to confess their sins, how to repent, and how to apologise. By witnessing their mother and father confessing their sins, repenting, and apologising, a child comes to understanding that God is good, loving, holy, and forgiving Saviour and that he or she can also develop the virtue of honesty and integrity and learn to forgive those who offend against them (Eph. 4:32).

#4. Children need to be taught to learn and educated into how to live a virtuous life.

A child requires teaching to learn how to learn and how to be educated. In a recent Pastor’s Desk I discussed the important role that parents play in educating their youngest children by simply reading to them. Parents, Kids Church workers, and Christian educators need to teach children that this world was created by God and it is His will that we learn about it. Children can be introduced good stories, how to count, how to spell, how to write, how to discover, and taken on ‘field trips’ around their neighbourhood to learn about bio-diversity and ecology (the plants and insects and animals that inhabit their neighbourhood). Every child needs to be taught to how to learn and then how to be taught so that they respect their teachers (Prov. 19:20). By witnessing their mother and father reading, studying, and learning, a child comes to understand that God is inexhaustibly magnificent and that He has made a beautiful world full of diverse wonders which reflects His artistry and unlimited intelligence (Psalm 19:1; Rom. 1:19-20).

#5. Children need to be taught how to discover that the purpose of life is to live to the glory of God.

A child must be taught that their life is a gift from God meant to be lived to God’s glory – not theirs. Happiness is a poor substitute for the true purpose of life. Ignoring God’s Word as the moral compass for our lives and fooling ourselves into thinking that we are a better moral compass than the one God has provided can only lead to inevitable pain. Every child needs to understand why the claims of the Bible are true and what the evidences are for the existence of the God of the Bible. By understanding why the Bible is trustworthy and authoritative, a child can develop their own confidence in their faith in God and His Word. The result for a child will be an understanding about how to live to the glory of God and how to see their role in society – whether they are a student, an employee, a volunteer – is to be carried out for God’s glory (1Cor. 10:31). Christian parents, Kids Church workers, and Christian school teachers play a critical role in a child’s life — especially in a child’s first five years. When a child is living to the glory of God they have discovered the meaning and purpose of life itself.

 

LET’S SEE INFANTS AND TODDLERS DIFFERENTLY

The early years of a child’s life are critically important. As a church family we can each play our part in ensuring that we together do our best to ensure that youngest members of our church family are given the best role models that we can be so that their parents are supported through this important season of a child’s life. For those of us who perhaps did not receive the benefit of intentional virtue training and discipleship, the good news is that the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit can redeem any life.

While our society seems to be doing all it can to avoid marrying early and starting a family, and even promoting so-called marriages that are biologically incapable of procreating children, if we can just encourage and train prospective parents on how to raise children to be virtuous followers of Christ, we stand a great chance that within one or two generations the majority of our society will actually know the Lord. And perhaps then, we will be one or maybe two steps closer to fulfilling the Great Commission Christ. While parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping young children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom, we can all play a supportive role in prayer, volunteering, and encouraging. Perhaps then, this Sunday, you might see some of the young children in our church family through different eyes. Hopefully you will see future doctors, future teachers, future pastors, future politicians, future business leaders, and future prime ministers. This is why I think our Kids Church and Youth Group are pivotal and key to us establishing a church than in generations to come will win their generation to the Lord!

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. LYDIA

    Quoting you Andrew:”The early years of a child’s life are critically important. As a church family we can each play our part in ensuring that we together do our best to ensure that youngest members of our church family are given the best role models that we can be so that their parents are supported through this important season (of)a child’s life. For those of us who perhaps did not receive the benefit of intentional virtue training and discipleship, the good news is that the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit can redeem any life.”
    Thank you for this Andrew. Congratulations on your uni degree course!

    One thing comes to mind amongst many others. that while our candles are continuing to burn down as we age, and we reflect on the past, as we do, that we can use those experiences of the past, for the benefit of those in the present, whose candles are much taller than ours, so that they learn the importance of the commandment of Jesus, to love as He does and be sheltered IN that love and protected and nurtured and guided with all integrity. It is SO good we have a Saviour whose birth we will celebrate in 43 days time. Without Jesus we would be up the creek without a paddle!

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AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.

WHO DOES THIS EPHESIANS FELLA THINK HE IS?!

It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

WHO BUILDS A CITY ON A HILL?

home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > October 7th > Who Builds A City On A HillFor those who don’t know, I was born in Geelong, and have always been fan of the Geelong Football Club. But I’m not just a fan, I’m a paid-up member of the Club. In fact, I’m a student...

5 INDISPENSABLE GUIDELINES FOR NEW PARENTS

This is not for everyone. If you are already a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my other more abstract Pastor’s Desk articles. If you are not a parent and have no intention of ever being a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my more weighty articles on FindingTruthMatters.org. If you are not yet a parent and one day hope to become a parent, this is for you. Find a quiet place, take the next six minutes thirteen seconds and use the reading of this article as an investment into your future parenting strategies. I did not invent these guidelines. Like many parents who have also discovered the value of these guidelines, once discovered, they seem obvious. These successful parents probably grew up with own parents who inculcated these guidelines almost intuitively. However, my suspicion is that this is becoming increasingly rarer. As with all true guidelines they are adaptable, flexible, and are not a guarantee of parental success — but if ignored they become the point in the mathematical problem solving where you can see you made an error in your working out. In other words, while these guidelines may not guarantee success, if ignored their neglect almost certainly leads to frustration and disappointment. Here are five indispensable guidelines for every prospective new parent.

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR ATHEIST & MAGICIAN PENN JILLETTE TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN?

I’ve been praying for Penn Jillette for some time now. It began when I first heard him ridicule the Bible and Christianity. My fascination with Penn (and Teller), and other world-class magicians, has been due to my pursuit to develop my craft of preaching. There are a lot of similarities between preachers and magicians (just as there is also a lot similarities between solo musicians and preachers). I seek to learn from magicians about how to keep an audience’s attention, how to tell a story, and how to make a point by employing the element of surprise. But there are some significant differences between what magicians do and what preachers do though. A magician is deliberately deceptive. A preacher is striving to uphold truth in an honest way.

THINK ABOUT THIS

In Australia, it’s football finals time and the U.S. the last Grand Slam event for the year has just concluded. I find a lot of life lessons from observing elite athletes — including and especially those who play football and those who play tennis. Most people might consider football to be a team sport and tennis to be individual sport. But the distinction is not so clear these days. Often times footballers are individually coached by “position coaches” and a tennis player is often just who the public sees of a team of people responsible for the performance of that player. At the time of writing, there are remaining four Australian Rules Football (AFL) teams about to play off in the Preliminary Finals (including my beloved Geelong Cats). Last weekend, Carlos Alcaraz of Spain defeated Casper Ruud of Norway. Both players have intriguing stories which I will mention shortly. In the AFL, after a disastrous last season, the Collingwood Magpies appointed a new coach for this season, Craig McRae. Even though they got off to a slow start this season, under McRae’s oversight ended up having an 11-straight winning streak toward the end of the season and now look like genuine  Premiership contenders. What do Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud, Craig McRae, and the Collingwood football team, all have in common? All the players at the elite level of their sport make an enormous commitment to train, practice, sleep, hydrate, and eat a regulated diet. Yet at the very highest levels in their respective sporting codes the difference between the elite and the extra-elite is no longer skill or fitness. In fact, the difference between them is so applicable to everyday life that it may be the most relevant and do-able thing you hear for a long time. So, think about this.