32: Achieving Mediocrity

Our church recently started a 16 week plan to read through the New Testament together. I was shocked the other day when a college student said, “I’ve been going to church for almost my whole life and I’ve never read through the New Testament.” That’s heart breaking! The New Testament is not very big. I’d guess it’s roughly two thirds the size of most novels. Even though our faith is founded upon it, many people have never read the whole thing. Some people have been following Christ for twenty or thirty years, and have yet to read through the New Testament. If you haven’t done so yet, please do so. It’s such a small thing to do.

How much effort would it take to get your child to read through the New Testament? There are 260 chapters in the New Testament. If he read one chapter a day it would take 8 ½ months. Two chapters a day would take four months and a week. Three chapters a day would take 12 ½ weeks.

You’d have to have your kid sit down and read for a little while each day. That would take some time on your part, but not much. The reading would have both spiritual and educational benefits. Since it is good for us all, maybe you could even do it with him. Then he’d get some great parent time as well.

Small little things like this over a lifetime will profoundly impact your children. They don’t take much time, but they make a real difference in their lives. Sometimes I think we view stuff like this as being so difficult that we don’t even try a little.

I just read a book called Ten P’s in a Pod by Arnold Pent III. It’s about a couple and their eight children who drove all over the country preaching the benefits of Bible reading. One of the dad’s philosophies was that you should feed your soul more than you feed your body. As a result, he had family devotions for 30 minutes after each meal. This was in addition to their private devotions which were 30 minutes for the younger kids and 60 minutes for the older ones. The book claims that the kids were of pretty normal intelligence and had normal memories. Yet, the amazing thing is that without really focusing intensively on memorization the kids could quote massive amounts of Scripture from memory. They just read the Bible that much! One of the older children could quote the entire New Testament without hardly any help. I thought that was really impressive.

I’m not saying you should do that with your kids. What I’m saying is that we can get fooled into thinking that doing stuff like having our kids read through the New Testament is really excellent parenting—almost extreme. Having your kids memorize the New Testament is extreme parenting. Having them read through the New Testament is far closer to mediocre parenting.

Perhaps the thought of achieving excellence can be so overwhelming that we can lose heart even trying for mediocrity. I think it would do us well to raise the bar a little in our expectations.

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