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To Our Kids on the First Day of School – Guest Blog by Ben Hoak

Here we go – another summer behind you, another school year ahead. Some of you are excited and can’t wait to get back to the classroom. Others of you … not so much. Either way, here are five things your mom and I want you to remember:

Take Advantage
You are in a position that many kids around the world can only dream about. You get to go to a school where teachers care about you, where you don’t have to be afraid, where you you can learn about anything that interests you (and a few things that don’t interest you but you need to know anyway).

You don’t realize it because you have never known anything else, but you have every advantage, so take advantage. Work hard. Do your best. Use the talents God has given you. Respect your teachers. When you’re tempted to take shortcuts or skip work because fun is waiting, don’t. The four walls of your classroom may seem confining, but they will take you farther than you know. Do the work, and you’ll be rewarded.

It’s Okay to Be Uncomfortable
You know that funny little feeling you get when your teacher starts to talk about a new topic or a new skill and you don’t know how to do it and you’re worried you won’t do it right and you’re not really sure what to do next?

Feeling that way usually means you’re about to become a better person. You’re going to learn something new that will improve your game, build your skills and move you forward. If everything is always exactly the way you like it, you will never grow or change.

(Here’s a secret – we get that feeling pretty much every day as parents.)

Focus on others
Most kids think only about what they want, what’s good for them and how they can get it before anyone else. We want you to think of others as more important than yourself. Let someone else go first. Save the best birthday cupcake for your friend. Ask other kids questions about themselves instead of talking endlessly about yourself.

Some of you have lots of really good friends, and some are starting with a new class. Either way, be aware of everyone else around you. Find the kid who’s playing by himself at recess and ask if you can play too. Make sure the new girl who’s shy has someone to talk to.

By the way, this starts at home with your siblings. I know, I know. Just do it anyway. 

Build Character
Learn to do what’s right now, when you’re small and the consequences are small. Build the habits that will stick with you through the rest of your life. Then when the consequences are big, you won’t even have to think about it – you’ll automatically do the right thing. Don’t wait – even kids are known by their actions, and we want you to build a reputation now for being honorable, having integrity and doing what’s right. Tell the truth, even when it might get you in trouble. When things go wrong – and they will – don’t be bitter. Keep your head up, your eyes clear and your heart full.

There’s More Than You Can See
You head off to school today in a world full of good and evil. Your sense of that world is small. You don’t know what’s out there yet – what experiences wait for you, what you like, what you don’t like, what you will be and do. You will learn so much this year about how everything in that world works, from science to language to the history that brought us to this point.

As you begin to explore, remember there is more to this life than you can see. Put your faith not just in objects you can touch, but in things unseen. Remember that something – Someone – has to keep it all going. Remember that you were created for a purpose, and you won’t feel quite right until you fill that purpose. Remember that you can see examples of redemption in all of creation, but there is only one place to find true Redemption.

And remember that your mom and I love you. We can’t wait to see what you accomplish this year. Now go get ’em.

Mom and Dad