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Teams Children Need
Photo: Ratnesh Bhatt
I grew up watching, playing, eating and living futbol, known in this country as soccer. Soccer is a simple sport without many rules. There are 10 players and a goal keeper, two periods of 45 minutes each and almost nonstop action. So when I came to the U.S. and watched my first football game, I was baffled at all the physical contact, the players running on and off the field and the stop-and-go action. A couple of years later someone explained to me how American football is played. Then I began to enjoy the game. And I see in it several spiritual lessons for raising our children.

A football team is actually three separate teams: offense, defense and special teams.The offense's job is to move toward the goal and score as many points as needed to win the game. The defense is supposed to stop the opposing team from moving downfield and scoring. The special teams must help both defense and offense accomplish the goal of winning the game by defeating the opponent.

Parents need to approach the critically important task of raising their children in much the same way as a football team:

1. Offense: home influence. A winning home provides children with a healthy environment where they receive nourishment and the protection they need to grow up healthy and strong. This includes nutritious meals, appropriate clothing and an environment where they feel loved and affirmed. Beyond that, it requires daily communion with God through Bible study and prayer so their spiritual nature may be strengthened and made ready for daily battles against the enemy of souls. Ellen White perceptively writes: Without a strong offense, the other two teams have an uphill battle.

2. Defense: church life. As important as home life is , it must be complemented by what the church must offer—a Sabbath school program where lessons learned at home are reinforced, an attractive and meaningful worship service where children are drawn closer to their God, and the fellowship of other believers for encouragement. That is why Paul wrote that we should not neglect “to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).

3. Special teams: church schools. After parents and church have done their best to advance toward the end zone and to hold the opposition at bay, here comes the influence of a good church school. Godly teachers and a committed staff can seal in the minds and hearts of our children the love of God and the hope of eternal salvation. What was started in the home and continued at church comes to fruition through the church school as it prepares students for a life of service in this world and abundance of life in the eternal land.

The gridiron battles of sports cannot begin to compare to the war for our children's souls. May we take advantage of every minute and employ all three teams—home, church, and church schools—to make our young people winners in this life and for eternity.

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By Claudio Consuegra. Portions reprinted with permission from Mid-America Outlook Magazine, May 2007.  Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scipture taken from the New Revised Standard Version ®.

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