One person though left a comment that has given me a lot of thought since. She said her biggest pet peeve was parents who indoctrinate their children with their personal religious and belief system before they are old enough to be able to decide for themselves what they think is true. She was very passionate about this and felt that children should be given the opportunity to explore lots of different religious beliefs and traditions and not be brainwashed into thinking one was right or better than another. She felt that parents who did this were irresponsible and were denying their children opportunity for authentic thought and decision making.
In some ways I agreed with her. I think it is important for kids (and adults for that matter) to be familiar with lots of different religious beliefs and to explore their own personal faith independently of what their parents or their family believes or has taught them. The last thing that I want as a parent is children who are "brainwashed" into following something they don't have passion for or a testimony of. I want my children to have a variety of spiritual experiences and a broad understanding of the ways in which God can, and is, worshiped.
Yet on the other hand I also had to disagree with her. I don't think that it is wrong for parents to indoctrinate, teach, instill, train, influence, school, implant, and drill core beliefs, values and teachings until they go blue in the face. There are few things more important for a parent to do then to be active in shaping the character, values, and dreams of the future generation. I think that what the woman on Facebook was forgetting is that children don't live in a bubble and that they are always being indoctrinated and influenced by something or someone. It isn't irresponsible to make choices about which messages you want to be the loudest in your children's lives.
These thoughts really surfaced the other night when I was reading in 1 Chronicles about the preparations King David made before his death. I knew that, even though he wanted to, David wasn't allowed by the Lord to build a temple and that it was his son Solomon who built the magnificent temple in Jerusalem. I'd always just assumed that Solomon was just a very good son who shared his father's vision and wanted to build what he was never able to. What I didn't realize is how much David did before his death to ensure that the temple would be built and that Solomon and his kingdom would be successful.
Solomon was one of David's youngest sons and from the time that David knew that Solomon had been chosen by the Lord to inherit the kingdom he did everything he could to prepare him to be a righteous leader. In 1 Chronicles 22: 5 David says,
"Solomon my son is young and tender, and the House that is to be builded for the Lord must be exceedingly magnifical of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death."
There are several things that really impress me about David's words. First, David mentions that Solomon was young and tender, and this was part of the reason he was chosen to rule and not one of his brothers. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Solomon "... died when he was already an old man, having reigned eighty years, and lived ninety-four" (Antiquities VIII 7:8) which would have made him only 14 years-old when he became king. It can be assumed that David, and Solomon's mother Bathsheba, went to great care to shape and mold the type of man and leader he was to become. I think that Bathsheba's influence is especially apparent as you read the rest of Solomon's story. He treats his mother with the utmost respect and kindness, and she is often one of his trusted advisers (see 1 Kings 1-2).
Second, David had a vision and a dream of what his kingdom and the temple would look like. Not only that but he dreamed big. He wasn't just going to build any old building for the Lord, but one that was "exceedingly magnifical of fame and glory throughout all the countries." This was the man who started out as a poor shepherd, who slew Goliath, became King amidst some real troubles, and unified the 12 tribes of Israel into one country; he had done the impossible before and he wasn't afraid to set his, and his posterity's, sights high. David also had a vision for who his son would be and he wasn't shy in making sure his son knew what he hoped and wished for him. It was David who first blessed his son with wisdom telling him,
"Now my son, the Lord be with thee, and prosper thou... Only the Lord give thee wisdom and understanding... that thou mayest keep the law of the lord thy God." (1 Chronicles 22:10-11)
Third, David prepared abundantly for what he wanted to happen in the next generation. The last six chapters of 1 Chronicles records all the preparations that David made for the building of the temple before his death. Not only did he spend years collecting the needed iron, nails, brass, cedar wood, stone, gold, and silver for the temple "in abundance", but he also made sure that all of the Levites were prepared to assume their priesthood duties. He made sure that there would be no confusion among them and that each family knew what their responsibilities would be, whether it was as musicians, singers, porters, treasurers, or as officers and judges. When David was finally ready to turn the kingdom over to Solomon he was able to present his son with not only all the materials needed to build the temple but also the "pattern" ( the blueprints) of the temple that He had received by revelation from the Lord.
The incredible thing is that all of David's hopes and dreams for his son and for his kingdom came true. The temple of the Lord was built and was one of the most incredible edifices of its time. It would stand for over 410 years, would be rebuilt twice, and even after its final destruction would be a unifying dream for generations of Jews. Solomon became famous for his wisdom and justice and under his rule Israel and Judah remained united. Not only that, but the fame of Solomon's kingdom and the temple attracted the attention of kings, queens and rulers from all over the world and Israel became an impressive and influential world power.
As I've thought about David and his "abundant" preparations for his posterity I have found myself thinking about what I am doing to prepare abundantly the type of future that I dream for my children and future posterity. Am I taking time when my children are "young and tender" to instill in them the type of qualities I want them to develop? Am I planting in their hearts goals and dreams for the future? Do I have a vision for what I want for them and for the world? Am I instilling that vision in them, helping them to see what is possible and getting them excited and passionate about the work they have on the earth? Am I leaving behind the blueprints and the materials my children need to keep moving the work of the Lord forward? And while I may not ever be personally called to build Zion, what am I doing to prepare "abundantly" so that my children and their children will be prepared for the task?
These are all hard questions that I have been asking myself lately, and I'm not really sure that I have the answers. All I know is that King David's example has touched me and I can see that there is lots of wisdom in focusing on the future and preparing "abundantly" for your posterity. Things like incredible kingdoms, dynamic and righteous leaders, and magnificent temples just don't happen, they take lots of planning and work. They take vision, they take passion, and they take someone who is willing to invest a lot into their creation.
I think that is why I couldn't agree with my friend's comment on Facebook that it is irresponsible to "indoctrinate" children when they are young with the values, beliefs and dreams that you have for the future. Faith and dreams only get stronger as they get passed down through the generations, and children who inherit them are given a priceless gift.