“Teach your children…”

A midday appointment took me home through the neighborhood in which we live.  Driving along I noticed a lemonade stand operated by four little girls.  I have a weak spot for drink stands operated by children.  My brother and I spent a summer pulling a Radio Flyer through a construction site selling small bottles of Coca Cola, and I delight in supporting their efforts.

When I stopped to buy my lemonade, the girls handed me a card, explaining that they were giving their profits to a program called “Seed Effect.”  The website describes the effort as “a Christ-centered nonprofit microfinance organization.”  I paid more for my lemonade than the asking price.

The Book of Deuteronomy urges the children of Israel, “teach your children the Law and to do it.”  There are few gifts that we can give our children that is more important than “an enacted spirituality.”  Connecting the journey inward with the journey outward defuses the hypocrisy that erodes idealism.  Encouraging our children to see the connection between their faith and their lives teaches moral and spiritual responsibility.

It is summer.  School is out.  But there are still lessons to learn.  If you do one thing this summer, give your child a spiritual gift.  Encourage them to connect heart and hands, faith and life.

I didn’t notice her until I started to drive away.  But I heard the girls’ mother shout, “Thank you!”

“No, I thought, thank you.”

About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an Episcopal priest), live in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and five grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, Sophie, and Drew, with a sixth on the way.