No matter our background, education, family experience or economic setting, the teaching and forming of a moral compass in our family life is key to building a good city environment for our children and youth. It is also the key to a future foundation where there is respect for mothers and fathers, teachers, principals, law enforcement, employers, neighbors and all people.
Because there is such dysfunction and even chaos in our families, as well as such disrespect by our children and even some adults in our community, we need to turn to a tested and tried book that — if heeded — can get us back on track. If we fail to establish a beachhead in these days, we may well see the end of the family unit that helps our children recognize the moral compass, which is designed to build character, integrity, love and responsibility, the tool to help us learn to make right decisions.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Listen, my son, to the father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” (Proverbs 1:7-9)
These words, from a man teaching his own son (David teaching Solomon), are a great place to start — no matter what age the kids are. Whether there is a mom and dad in the house or just a single parent, teaching your children that God is to be respected and held in highest regard, that there is no one greater than him, sets up the scaffolding to build the moral compass. As we each understand our place before God, there is an absolute standard to live by. When children see their parents reflect this in their own lives, it will not only be something taught, but it will be caught.
It’s interesting that the word for fools in this scripture can also be translated as morally bad. So someone not interested in a moral compass for his or her own life or child’s life is a fool — morally bad. You could even say morally neutral. If parents don’t live with a moral compass, the children will only catch what they see and hear from those who raise them.
Solomon then proceeds to build onto the moral compass with parental wisdom. The mother’s and father’s instructions are to be respected, as God is respected. We are now building the moral compass with north, south, east and west avenues of right and wrong. God teaches the parent(s), and the children begin to learn God’s place as well as the parents’ place in teaching moral values.
Next time, we’ll look at how the moral compass leads and how we make those decisions that will make our families and our community better.
• The Rev. Scott K. Van Bibber is minister of New Hope Church of the Nazarene. Sermon Notes is a column by local religious leaders.