One of my favorite books on spiritual leadership is The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson. In it he writes about being a subversive pastor in working in spiritual teachings in situations that don’t always appear so. I like to apply this same strategy in my home by teaching my children when I am not even directing my words to them. This happened last night with one of my daughters who refuses to have me read aloud to her. I read with my other daughter within earshot of my older one. Our most recent book is To Kill a Mockingbird. While reading to daughter number 2, daughter number 1 was playing with her Legos. In the midst of my reading, daughter 1 (the Lego builder) chimes in, “I don’t like Aunty Alexandra very much.” “Whahahahaha,” I think, “…my subversive plan at work.”
The truth is every conversation that takes place in our homes is a means of educating our children. When mom and dad talk about the sermon, the children are listening. How many times have you been talking about something that you didn’t intend for your child to hear only to have him interject a comment into your adult conversation? “Be careful little ears what you hear,” takes on a completely different meaning when we parents begin working subversively. Those ears can just as easily pick up character, virtue, and wisdom through what they hear as they can other, not so good, content.
My recommendation: Read aloud to your spouse, read aloud to your oldest, read aloud to your youngest. Watch movies together that contain messages of virtue and ask subversive questions like, “Who would you want to be like in that movie?” Talk about meaningful things amongst the adults that are praiseworthy rather than gossip. Children pick up on the dialogue. You might even voice your inner dialogue so your children get to know the type of thoughts you think—you probably need to do the necessary house cleaning first. Be subversive.
– Dr. Troy Wathen, Head of School