08 Jul 2012
The role of a child
And then today, the role of a child. If every one of us focuses on our role, fulfill our role in the family, we will have better families, happier families, more Christ-like families. And if we have happier families and more Christ-like families, we will have a better church and frankly, we'll have a better world, because the entire world is made of nothing more than this tiny unit called the family, and in this tiny unit in the family, there are just three little roles here. So let us fulfill our part in God's big plan.
Father - Representative
Alright, the main role of the father is to be a representative of the Heavenly Father. That's the main role, right? As a dad, you represent the God who can’t be seen to your family primarily and then to the world. Your child can’t see the Heavenly Father can see a lot of the Heavenly Father, I hope, in the earthly father. So your role is representative - you represent God in your home and in your society.
Mother - Helper
Role of mum? The main role in one word is the helper. It is not easy to be a rep, a representative of the Father. So your main role is be a helper. Don't take over, don't be the head. Sometimes it's easier to take over than to help. And it's a huge tendency to do that. So the role, in one simple word, of every mother is help the father.
Child - Learner
Alright, today we come to the role of a child. ‘L’ sign - learner. The role of a child is to learn. The main thing is to learn. So today's message is going to be useful just not for the kids but for everyone because learning is possibly the most useful life skill we can ever have. Especially in these last days, when things move at a furious pace, the ability to learn is so critical. And so I hope that we will all be good learners today. And I hope that children in particular will realize that this is their main role in life.
Now some of you will wonder what child training method am I going to teach today? Is it going to be the Asian style, the Chinese style, or the western style? Is it going to be traditional, modern, strict, or lenient? There's only one style. There's only one. The rest are fashions. The rest are incomplete. There is only one way to bring up a child. You see, when God created man, He also gave an operating manual. It's called the Bible. And if we follow the operating manual God gives us, we can be sure things will work well. So let's look at today, that one source for today's message. I don't want this style, that style, I want the style. I don't want this method or that method; I want the true method. And the word of God tells us there is one source of truth. Sanctify them to the truth. Clean them up, clean them up, all the wrong, the errors and everything. Get them straightened out by the word. You know one of the hardest words to define in any language is the word, ‘truth’. What is truth? How do you define it? Tell me, how do you define truth? Some dictionaries will say, “that which is generally believed”. I mean, that's called truth? People believe a lot of wrong things together, you know. But Thy word is truth. Definitive. Thy Word, God's word, is truth. And in this book of truth, in this book of truth are many lives. Many lives are described - some quite horrible men, many good men, but only one perfect man is described. Only one, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the Son of God was sent down to be a role model. He lived that perfect life. Sometimes it's hard to grasp who is this invisible God. But Jesus came down to be a visible role model for us. And so in this book of truth, we will see that one perfect role model. And you know, it's interesting though, there's a lot written about Jesus’ life - four books, four gospels written about his life, but there's only one little passage describing his childhood. One little passage of just 13 verses. In these 13 verses, we will learn all the important principles of child bringing up.
Let's look at this very, very short passage, and we will see all the principles you and I will need. “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feasts of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, when a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking Him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”
5 questions to answer from the passage
All right, here we see a very short passage, just 12 to 13 verses. And out of this, we are going to try to learn five principles that will be very, very important in bringing up a child to be a good learner, and also for everyone who's not a child now, to be a good learner. So let's see, try to answer these five questions that we have in this passage. When? When is the critical time of learning? When's the big moment to learn? Who should we learn from? What should we learn from those people? How do we get those treasures out of those people? The Who? And lastly, humility and obedience.
Alright, so let's look at the ‘when’ question. Let's look at the first ‘when’ question and we can just see here. Look at verse 42. When's the critical time? Why is this mentioned – “he was twelve years old”? What's the big deal about this number? Why twelve? Why is it specifically mentioned ‘twelve’? It is because the Creator has put a switch in humans, that roughly at the age of twelve, He switches on these things called hormones, adult hormones. And when this thing gets switched on, something happens to the person. And it seems to baffle a lot of people. All of a sudden, the kid who loves to hang around you, comes to your bedroom, lull with you, and go out with you, suddenly wants to go to her own room or his own room. The kid who loves your company suddenly wants privacy. The kid who wore anything you bought for him, very stable and ugly stuff, suddenly says, “Mum, I don't want to wear that.” and then he buys uglier stuff. And then we get baffled. We say, “What? What happened to my son? What happened to my daughter, that wonderful child I had? Now something has happened to him!” It is as if something weird happened. No, something very normal happened. God switched on the hormones! So that this life that was part of a unit called a family should now prepare for life independent, to be another family. Nothing weird. This is where battles begin. This is where people fight with God. This is when people come and say, “Our kids are rebellious. Something has happened to them! It is as if Satan influenced them.” No, no, no, please don't fight God. Satan didn't invent this hormone button.
God wants to prepare them for independence. So what do we do? How do we help them? Well, independence means a lot of things. I want to do my own thing, choose my own hairstyle, mind my own opinions. But independence can also lead to independent learning. Direct their independence to something very important - to be an independent learner. You see, all our kids are unique. Every child is unique. Joseph and Mary, then Jesus. Jesus was unique. He was not a clone of Mary nor Joseph. He was Jesus. And at this point, he knew he had a role, that God had created him for a very special role. And he said to his mum, his worried mum, “Mum, don't you know that I have to be about my Father's business?” Don’t you know I was created for a role? And I'm going to go and learn and be the best I can in that role. You see, at the age of about twelve you realize that hey, you are unique. That's why you come up with the funny hairstyles. You want to be yourself. Yu don't want to be part of something. And you know, that's the time when you help this person discover his gifts. How God created him, how God wired him, and hopefully help him discover his purpose in life. Some will be very good in numbers – help them and one day he will be a genius in math or whatever. Some love economics – help them to read, give him stuff and let him read and search for those things. Some have passions, something like a drive, something like music – let them play and become good musicians. Some like sport – help them to develop it and find it. Teach them how to learn, have a passion for something and go for it. No, we want them in our image. They are not you. I have four kids and all my four kids are not me. Each one special, unique and it just happened that God placed them in my family. They look a little like me but are wired all different, totally different. Now, thank God. One Paul Choo is enough.
Now let me just say a few words about independence. Independence must come with responsibility. A lot of people want to be independent, make their decisions and let other people carry the responsibility. Now that's not what independence is. Adulthood is about making independent decisions and bearing the responsibility. You know Jesus had to have a heavy responsibility when he went in and did this. He had to walk back from Jerusalem to Nazareth. He didn't tell his mom, “You wait for me. Send the car and pick me up.” See, a lot of people love to do their thing and they want others to carry their responsibility. I know a lot of people who say, “Mom, I'm big enough. I invite my friends for come over for dinner anytime, come for a party.” Come, whatever, and they invite all their friends. Great and wonderful, you know? Mom doesn't stop them but they leave the dishes for mom to wash. Hey, you want to make a decision? You pay the price, right? You want to buy a fancy red pair of shoes? You pay for it, right? Independence and responsibility equals adulthood. Not independence without responsibility. Alright, let's move on. We've answered the ‘when’. When's the critical time? The time they are independent, teach them to seek things that are important. The most important is to learn who you are, what God wants you to be, and go for it with all your heart.
Next question – ‘who’? Who was Jesus? Who did Jesus look to when he wanted to learn? They found him in the midst of the doctors. All right, that's a word for teachers. They were the teachers in Jerusalem. They were the PhDs. Hey, you know, Jesus was twelve years old. He was in Jerusalem. You know when a twelve year old kampung boy goes to Jerusalem, it's like a kampung boy goes to Disneyland. Wow, this place is amazing! Beautiful buildings, amazing things, cool kids in the street, plenty of teenagers to learn from, many interesting sidewalks to go to, many amusements in Jerusalem. But what did he do? He did something very important. He found the best source. He looked for the masters. He was about the Father's business. He could have gone to any young kid and went, “Hey, tell me a bit about theology. Tell me.” He didn't. He went to this bunch of possibly 60-year-olds and sat at their feet and learnt from them. You know, throughout history, in different cultures, the best way of learning, throughout the world and throughout different cultures is to find the right master. Call it guru, shifu, whatever, mentor, whether the Greeks’ Plato, Aristotle, whether the Chinese Confucius, Mencius, whether the Jews Gamaliel, or whatever, people look for masters, to sit at the feet of the masters. That was the ultimate place to learn. They knew that's the place. Wow, we fought and it is like going to Harvard today. But they were smarter than that. They didn't go to Harvard to be taught by young rookies. They went to the masters. You know, I tell you, if there is one thing lost in this generation today, one thing lost, the one thing. The devil is so good that it took that one thing away, is that the average young person has no clue, no clue that he should learn from elders. Throughout history, that's the way to go. That's the way to learn. Today, you tell a young guy that the way to learn is go to an elder and learn from him. It's like, how uncool! Old people are blur man, Pastor. Young people are cool. You know TV portrays that all the time. The Gong Gong father and the smart aleck young kid who knows everything. He's the cool Joe. First time in history, first time in human history, we lost treasure. Today, this idea that you look for someone older to learn from is not there. I'm sorry, it's gone. It's not an old fashioned idea, my friends. We have God as a role model. The twelve year old kid is trying to tell us something so important. I am going to look for the old guys here and learn from them. Do you think this is the first time he did it? Do you think that, you know, he had never imagined and never done this before, and he never knew that getting something from old guys was good, and one day he just walks up there and he so comfortably sits down and asks questions? Do you think that's a case? I don't think so. I think he always understood and he had practice with his own mum and dad. Because he looks so comfortable here. It was not like a new thing. It's not like, “We're going to do something new today. I'm going to look for old folks to teach.” No, he just seemed to be comfortably in their midst. I would use the word ‘in his element’. How come? Because I believe he understood that this is the way to go – “I will learn from my dad. Today I'm in Jerusalem and I got someone even more experienced. I'll go to him start a new thing. It's just a gradation. It is part of what he always did. You know, young people here, the best person to learn from is given to you, right in your home. Jesus went through that first. This is not out of character. This is showing you the principles. It's not a show. It's not a drama. He's not trying to do a one-off act here, folks. He's not in a drama business. He's teaching principles. And these principles are learned from the older ones. You know, many of you have parents at home who are amazing. People pay your parents, hundreds of thousands of dillars because of their wisdom. People use them as trainers and people use them as resources. They pay them a fortune. But you know, you can get it free but you never got it once? How weird! But it's not really. The Bible tells us in Matthew 13:57 that “A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and his own house.” I can tell you, Isaiah the prophet, in his own house, his kids said, “Don't bother me, Dad. Today, we all read about Isaiah.” Learn this lesson: there are prophets in your house right there for you. And don't fall into this same trap because the Bible has already warned you. Many prophets are in his house and nobody knew that. The whole world recognizes that man as a man of wisdom. We want him for our company. We want him to run this 100 million dollar company but his own kids never asked him a question here. His own kids think he's an uncool, old fellow. Wake up, folks. Wake up. He that walks with wise men shall be wise. And let me tell you, the wise men are nearer than you think, or maybe right where you are. Alright, question number one, “When is the critical time?” and number two, “Who should you seek wisdom from?”.
Number three is, “What should you seek from them?” See, the Bible doesn't tell us what was the topic of discussion. The Bible says he was just sitting with the doctors and he was asking questions. But what do you think he was asking? What do you think he was seeking? Alright, there are several hints of what he was seeking. Look at verse 40. It doesn't say Jesus was filled with a lot of knowledge. A kampung boy generally does not have a lot of knowledge. There is not a lot happening in the kampung. He was filled with wisdom. This is before his talk with the gurus, all right? A young child is filled with wisdom? I thought wisdom belongs to old people! How's that so? Where did he get it from? A young child doesn't even know what wisdom is. But he was filled with wisdom.
And then we go on to see that same passage, that little short passage and look at verse 52. How did he increase it? Knowledge? Wisdom. Wisdom is the principal thing. What's the difference between wisdom and knowledge? Knowledge is to know a lot of things. To know something. This world is full of knowledge. Plenty of knowledge. Too much. You know right now, what your friend is doing. It is knowledge. He's going to the toilet now – Twitter is telling you that. And he is sitting on the throne and telling you, “I got a stomachache”. That's knowledge. It is junk. The world is filled – our young people are filled with more knowledge than any time in human history. And that that makes them think they're smart. But unless you have wisdom, wisdom is how you use that knowledge, knowledge will just puff you up and make you think you are smart. It makes you think you're better than others. Wow, that is sad! You're not better but you think you're better. Wisdom is when you know how to use that knowledge to change lives, beginning with yourself, change other's lives, and change the world. Knowledge is easy to get. It takes seconds to get knowledge. In ten seconds, I can get ten facts. Pap, Pap, Pap, Pap, just tell me. Sometimes to make use of those ten facts and turn it to wisdom might take you ten years or maybe fifty years. Young people have tons of knowledge because they are sharp, they are curious, and they have good memory. But they don't have patience to sit down and turn those facts into something useful – that is wisdom. That takes time. Jesus was filled with wisdom. Our youth today are filled with facts and increasing facts and increasing facts. And they are under the illusion that they're getting smarter. Folks, wisdom is the principal thing. Go for it. Seek it with all your heart. I believe that if we seek it, we will find it. So the difference is very clear. Today’s story – how long did it take you read that story? One minute? Thirteen verses. HHow long would it take you to figure out how to apply the facts in that story to your life? How will this little story, these facts, change my life? That's wisdom.
Let's see how important wisdom is. Proverbs 3:13-24 tells us, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her. The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew. My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.” Seek wisdom. Right? Be an independent learner. Go for the ones who have got wisdom and learn from them. Learn from them. Learn what? Wisdom. Don’t fill your head with knowledge. It will kill you. If knowledge cannot be applied, it's worthless. It's junk that takes up space. Knowledge must be useful, not frivolous.
Alright, question number four. Now that you are with wise people, you want to get wisdom. How do you get it? How do you get wisdom? What's the process by which you dig it out? Facts? Very easy. Go to Google, go to Twitter, go wherever. You will get your facts. Pap, Pap, Pap, Pap, they will come like machine guns. All right, but how do you get your knowledge? Let's look at Jesus in verse 46. How did he get wisdom out of these people? What did he do?
First, hear and then ask questions. The translation for the word ‘hear’ is not a very good translation. ‘Listen’ would be much better. What's the difference between hearing and listening? You can hear all the time, unless you put your finger in your ears but even then you hear a lot of things. You sit on a train, you hear people babbling here, babbling there, music here, all kinds. You hear. But unless there's something you think that is useful, then you switch on the brain. That's called listening. Listening is not about ear drums. Listening is about the brain. Listening is about the fact that I think there's something this person is going to say that's useful for me. I will listen. Otherwise when people talk to you, you go, “Yeah, yeah. Okay. Yeah, no problem. Yeah, yeah.” After that, what did he say? I can’t remember what he said. Who cares anyway? Right. Because you're not listening, you're hearing.
So, two things about learning, the learning process of ‘how’. How can one be a good listener? Find the right people who can help you and then turn on your listening switch. No point listening to the wrong people and reading the wrong books. Listening the wrong people may give you a lot of junk facts and wrong conclusions. The second point about the learning process: ask questions. Ask questions. I'm told that when a Jewish boy goes home, or Jewish girl goes home from school, the mom will ask, “Son, what good question did you ask in school today?” A Chinese mother will say, “Did you keep quiet in class?” “Yes, mom. I didn't say a word. I swear, mom. I didn't talk. But I also didn't turn on my switch on my brain. I just act blur.” But mommy's so happy that you are blur because “don’t talk”. If you want to learn, you have to ask questions. I did a little research yesterday and found that the Jews, with 0.2% of the world's population, 0.2 ah. So, you should get 0.2% of the Nobel Prizes? No. They got 22%. A hundred times more than the population. If you count the real hard ones, the Nobel Prize on Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Economics, they got well more than 22%. China, 1.4 billion, very good students, very scholarly, the Chinese are very scholarly at studying - one Nobel Prize, not in Chemistry, Physics but it was in fighting the Government. Will they get more? Not until they learn to ask questions. The Jews may be born with a good brain. I believe many of us too are born with good brains. But if your method is wrong, forget it. Forget it. And I'm not complicated. I'm not coming with a western view or whatever view. This is Jesus. This is Jesus the role model. The learner, the absolute learner. You want to learn? Ask questions. It scares me when you talk to people and they have no questions. You see, Chinese like to look smart. Ask question means stupid so you don't ask questions. “You understand?” “Yes.” But then go out, “Wah so cheem ah. I don’t know what he is talking about!” Because you don't want to lose face, you don't want to look stupid, you don’t ask questions. Well, let me tell you. You don't ask questions? You are stupid. You won't look stupid. You will be stupid and stupider. You want to be stupid? Look Smart. Yes! You understand? Yes. Any questions? No. Then, fool. So simple. We learn something. No teacher is perfect. No student is perfect. No traffic is perfect. There are always traffic jams. You can have the best highway but if you don't clear the traffic jams, the traffic can’t go down. When you have something you don't understand, if you don't ask the question and you don't clear the question but the teacher goes on talking, how can you continue understanding if you don’t understand this point? Your traffic jammed. If you don't clear this, how can you understand the rest?
Our system, I don't care how much MOE puts into the millions of dollars in getting the best teachers, the best overhead projector, the best whatever, if we don't ask questions, forget it. It didn't say the way to learn is have a good OHP and trained teacher. Alright? It's very simple. It's very simple. It's about listening, thinking and when you can’t quite get it, say, “Excuse me, I don't quite get it.” Or “Dad, you said this. I don’t quite get it. Please explain that to me.” You know, parents love to help their kids but we never ask. After a while, parents get discouraged. And you say, “Why don't you mentor your kid? You're such a good mentor. You are the king mentor in the office. You mentor everybody. Why don’t you mentor your kid?” “My kid is not interested.” Seen it and heard it too many times. If you don't ask questions and everything your parents talk to you, you go, “Yeah, okay. Yeah. Okay, mom. Okay. Yeah.” After a while, communication ends and the lesson ends. Alright, so I hope you will know how to ask questions.
And lastly, so we have the ‘when’, the ‘who’, the ‘what to look for’ and ‘how to get it’. Lastly, the most important, right? Let's look at verse 51 – “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them”. Who is this ‘he’? Jesus Christ. Who is he? The Son of God! Who is he? The perfect role model. Who is his parents? Joseph, the carpenter, and Mary, the housewife. Not much is said about them. I think they were just average. Joseph may be very good with his hands, not so sharp, not so articulate. Probably not a word ever we see. Hardly anything said by him. Mary is probably a typical mum who talks a little too much. And what did Jesus do? This perfect Son of God who just came from three days with the gurus and sat with the gurus. What did he do when he went home? “Mom, enough la. I know everything already.” What did he do? He was subject. You know the word ‘subject’ means habitually obedient? Habitually obedient. You mean the parents never made a mistake? Everything they said was so good that he could easily obey them? No, I think a lot of things they said were not worth following. A lot or they said was erroneous. A lot of what they said was redundant. But what did he do? He said, “Mom, you don't know la. I'm the son of God, you know. And you're a housewife. You never even went to school. I sat with the PhDs who told me I'm almost like them.” What did he do? He realized that the best school he went to was not in Jerusalem. Listen carefully. The best school was not with the gurus. The best school is not RI. God did not make RI. It's not Harvard. God did not make Harvard. But God made the home. God made the best school: the home. How do I know it is the best? Because he invented it. So you say, “How can? My parents are not as smart. How can I learn from them?” You can learn the most important skill in learning. The most important skill in learning is humility. Because you will never switch on that button if you think you're smart. You can only really learn when you're humble. A smart kid thinks he knows everything. There's no need to listen to anyone. A humble person knows he can learn from the poorest beggar. There's something he can learn. He even knows that from an ant crawling from here to here, across this podium, there's some wisdom to learn. Humility is the key. Five Principles we have learned today but let me say, this is the principle that makes the rest fall into place. Love is what makes us good Christians. Humility is what makes us good students. You take love out, there's no Christianity. You take humility out, there's no more studying, there's no more learning. And you know, when a child like Jesus learned to learn, learn to listen, it became part of his life. One day, he could walk out there and see a leper and say, “That's a lesson to learn.”
In God's huge classroom, if we are humble, there's a lot to learn. God is the principal of this huge thing called the world. And if we have the right attitude, all we need to enroll in this school is called humility, no school fees. And we learn that in our homes, folks, right in our homes. If we don't listen to the parents who fed us and we think we're smarter than the ones who brought us up, you're not likely to listen to anyone else. God made the school. So today to all you young people particularly, let me say this: where God put you, that's the best school. And that Dad and Mom above you, that's the best faculty you could ever have. All right?
Let me just end by showing a few verses that may help us. Proverbs 1:8 says, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother. The mother has a law. It's not that the mother teaches God's word well and then you listen. The law of thy mother. What is the lesson you're going to learn from your mother? She may ask you to learn something that is actually not that great but you're learning something important. You're learning how to learn. Proverbs 13:1 says, “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke”. Proverbs 15:5 says, “A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.”
So young people here, children, one simple lesson I hope we can leave with you. You're not in the wrong house. You're in the best school. Why do I say that? Because God put you in that school. That's the most suitable school for you. You're not products of chance. You're not products of a casino, folks. You're products of a creator who made you and has a plan for your life. And your home is a critical part of that plan. If you don't listen to your folks, you don't ask questions of your folks, you don't obey your folks, you will go into the world and learn nothing. But if you graduate from this wonderful school that God has given you, which is called your home, and appreciate the faculty God has given you, which is called your parents, and use it well, the whole world will be a classroom for you. May God bless you. May all of us be good learners and may each of us fulfill the roles that God has for us in our lives. Dad’s are representatives. Moms are helpers. Young people are learners. And frankly, for all of us, learners for life. Thank you.
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