The School Year

"Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law." (Romans 13:9b-10)

Christian stewardship calls us to conduct ourselves with concern for others before self. Each age of development has a "me" attitude that parents sometimes overlook. Initially, this "me" attitude is an appropriate developmental stage. However, this self-focus is a driving force throughout our lives, especially in the "tween" and teenage years. This attitude is heightened by our hyperconsumer culture. (Note: When you are shopping at the local mall, notice the abundance of marketing efforts with a "me" focus.) This self-focus can be tempered with a strong emphasis on teaching tweens and teens compassion towards others.

Our local schools publish a handbook at the beginning of each new academic year. The handbook begins with a greeting followed by the mission statement and attendance guidelines. The body of the handbook focuses on the student code of conduct. It outlines the administration's expectations of students. It defines various infractions of this code and the minimum and maximum consequences for each infraction. Some of the guidelines are written with wording such as "The Good Neighbor Policy" or "The Golden Rule." Parents and children are expected to read the handbook and, in some instances, sign a form stating that they have discussed the student code with each other. Such are the expectations and the laws of the school.

The beginning of the school year is a great time to discuss the various expectations of the school, the church, and parents. Parents may choose to review their children's responsibilities at home (for example, cleaning a bedroom, emptying the trash, cutting the grass, loading the dishwasher) and the consequences for not fulfilling these expectations. If The Good Neighbor Policy is referred to in the school handbook, read Luke 10:29-37 with your children. Ask the children to describe the ways in which this Scripture reading relates to The Good Neighbor Policy. If the school handbook refers to The Golden Rule, then complete a similar exercise by reading Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31.


Lord, thank you for new beginnings, such as the beginning of this new school year. We pray that we might develop close relationships with our neighbors from home, school, and church. Enable us to always show love and compassion to others. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who seeks to develop an ever-closer relationship with us. Amen.

Discussion Questions

  • Why is the principle stated in Romans 13:9b-10 so important to Christian formation and discipleship?
  • Who are your neighbors at home, at school, at church?
  • How do you display Christian love toward some of these neighbors?
  • How could you be more compassionate toward some neighbors?

Ruth M. Blum is an ordained United Methodist Deacon who serves as Associate Pastor of Children and Families at Dove of the Desert United Methodist Church in Glendale, Arizona

Posted in2005.

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