A few years ago I read a book by Rafe Esquith titled Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire. Rafe is a teacher in the Los Angeles area and the story of what he has done with his class over the years is amazing. Mr. Esquith shines when it comes to teaching with passion and inspiring his students learn.
Mr. Esquith tells of being so engrossed in a science lesson he didn’t realize his hair was on fire. That’s passion! His book’s title comes from that story. Reading his book (and his other books) causes me to think about my own efforts as a father. Do I parent with enough passion? Am I so engrossed in teaching my children I would not realize if my hair was on fire?
First, I like to read to the family. I realize not everyone enjoys reading, especially aloud, but I have found it to be a great way to deliberately engage with my children. While reading I have a chance to stop and discuss topics of ethics, character, and theology. These conversations don’t need to be long to be useful. Reading alone doesn’t foster a passion for my children the way reading to the family does. I feel like a blessed man when holding a book while my family is gathered around listening to me read.Sadly, not often enough. Parenting is hard work, and with everything else I am called to do, it can easily take a back seat. To maintain my passion and be deliberate as a parent I need a strategy. Mine isn’t as clearly defined as I would like, but I maintain some helpful habits in order to keep passionate about raising the next generations to hope in God.
Second, I focus on God’s love for me. God has been merciful to me a sinner and adopted me into his family. As I focus on this reality it causes me to burst forth with love for my own children. The more I learn about God, His world, and His will, the more I want my children to know about Him. Reading the Scriptures, sitting under faithful preaching week after week, and fellowship with the body of Christ (the church), create a desire to share the love of God with others. The closest “others” in my life are my own children.
Third, I pray constantly. No doubt, my prayer life could use improvement, I struggle to create space for deliberate prayer times. On the other hand, as much as I struggle, I find myself praying as I go. I pray while driving, while showering, and while walking the dog. As I pray for parenting wisdom and for my own growth in Christ, I am putting myself in a position to be able to parent like my hair’s on fire. These prayers flow into a sense of mission to see my children hope in Christ. I know God desires little children to come unto Him and this gives me confidence to disciple and parent with abandon. I am free to parent like my hair’s on fire because God is at work to use my efforts for His glory.
Mr. Esquith, as far as I know, isn’t a believer, yet his passion for teaching is an example I have learned from and been inspired by. I hope my passion for my children contagious enough to be caught and causes them grow up and teach their own children with enthusiasm.