Last month was graduation time, a time for sage advice from renowned speakers. But I was thinking Everything You Really Need to Know, You Learned in Kindergarten.
1. Listen to the teacher: her job is to teach, protect us and keep us from eating the glue.
2. Pay attention in class: if we wanted to be successful in school we had to learn to sit still and focus.
3. Respect the teacher: here’s the authority thing. Back in my day teachers still had paddles.
4. Live a balanced life: learn some, play some, have nap time, have music class, draw, paint, run around on the playground.
5. Listen to your mom and dad: mine weren’t as dumb as I thought.
6. Learn to resolve conflict: every report card should read “Plays well with others.”
7. Girls aren’t that icky: you still take your daily cooty shot, but you start showing interest in the opposite sex.
8. Don’t take things that aren’t yours (see the paddle comment above).
9. Play fair: It didn’t matter if you were playing kickball or foursquare or football or dodge ball, there are rules to everything.
10. You can’t always get what you want: In kindergarten you begin to realize the disparity between other kids’ clothes and cars and homes. You begin to realize that some people have more than others.
There you have it. Ten important lessons; everything you really need to know all learned in Kindergarten. Do they look familiar to you? I hope so. These are the same 10 lessons God gave to Israel. The nation of Israel was in the wilderness just beginning to get to know God, kind of like they were in spiritual kindergarten. They were about to graduate and head out into the real world. Of course God wanted them to succeed, so he gave them these 10 keys to success.
1. No other gods before God. Listen to the teacher. There is someone who knows more than you do…someone whose job it is to protect you and teach you and keep you from trouble. In fact he says: Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Put him first, listen to him, and he’ll lead you to see his wonderful plans fulfilled in your life.
2. No idols to take God’s place. Stay focused; pay attention in class. Remember what is important in life. Don’t get distracted or side-tracked by anything that will keep you from following God and the dreams he’s given you.
3. Don’t misuse God’s name. Respect the teacher. This Commandment is a question of honor. Respect God and his rules for living.
4. Remember the Sabbath. Originally God was talking about a specific day of the week but also about living a balanced life. Work hard in all you do as unto the Lord, but don’t forget to enjoy God’s gift of life.
5. Honor your parents. Friends are great, but family is forever. That’s the way God made it. Parenting is tough…kids can make it much easier.
6. No Murder. Obviously in the realm of conflict resolution murder is out. Conflict will be a part of your life forever. The most successful people I know in life are people who handle conflict well. The Bible tells us to forgive and reconcile. Otherwise you’ll spend the rest of your life carrying the baggage of old grudges everywhere you go.
7. No Adultery. Learn sexual boundaries. God gave them to us to protect us. God’s not a cosmic killjoy. He didn’t give us desires and passions just to frustrate us. He gives us rules and boundaries in order to protect our hearts and emotions, to protect our future and our marriages, even to protect our lives.
8. No Stealing. Obviously we shouldn’t take other people’s stuff. But we’re tempted to steal other things along the way too. When you work half-heartedly, you’re stealing your employer’s time. When you study half-heartedly, you’re stealing your professor’s time. And girls, watch out for guys that will make promises they don’t mean to keep in order to steal your affection.
9. No False Testimony. This one’s about honesty and integrity: saying what you mean and meaning what you say…keeping your word. There are rules to the game…play by the rules and you’ll sleep well at night and not be ashamed to look in the mirror in the morning. Remember, even the world hates cheaters.
10. No Coveting. Covet means to desire, long for, or crave. This is a hard one for us Americans. Popular culture tells us what success is, and we measure our level of success based on that distorted picture. But if you head down that road of greed you’ll wind up in the same state as our nation’s economy: overextended, paralyzed by debt, making bad decisions, living paycheck to paycheck and losing freedom. Learn to be content.
That’s pretty sage advice, and you’ve known it since kindergarten.
Jim Mann, Ph.D. pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. Visit New Life’s website: www.NewLifeDenton.org for more information.