Keeping Our Vision Strong at the Beginning of Another Year
Another school year brings with it a torrent of blended feelings—expectation and excitement on one end of the spectrum, trepidation and questioning on the other. The hope of a new beginning mingles with the doubt and questions that linger in the corners of our minds. “Will I be able to handle algebra this year? It’s going to be harder homeschooling now that the new baby has come. Wouldn’t enrolling the kids in school have been a better choice? Why am I putting myself through this for another year?”
As a homeschool graduate, I’m not sure I’ve ever met a homeschooling mom who didn’t sometimes wonder why she was teaching her kids at home. After all, homeschooling can be a challenge—a big one. There are a lot of unique responsibilities you carry that most other parents can’t begin to understand. And your kids aren’t always going to understand your sacrifices and try to make your job easier! I know that when I was being homeschooled, I certainly didn’t always sympathize with my mother’s headaches or try to smooth her way. (Just ask her what it was like trying to teach me creative writing!)
The challenges come, and with them, the questions. The persistent “Why am I doing this?” often seems to lie just beneath the surface, ready to challenge, threaten, even condemn. It is spoken by a thousand insistent tongues, whispered in our ears by a thousand unrelenting voices. “Why bother? Why endure all this? What’s the use?” The refrain grows as friends, family, neighbors, and even complete strangers accost and question. Society points a disapproving finger, or perhaps looks on with pity, feeling sorry for the downtrodden, behind-the-times mom who doesn’t have enough ambition to get out of the house and go make something of herself.
“Why bother? What’s the use?”
It’s a question worth answering. And at this moment in time, while the new school year is still young, now is a good time to meet it face to face.
Why do we homeschool? What can be our motivation to embrace a lifestyle that is misunderstood by so many around us and is sure to require sacrifice and hardship beyond what others may endure? Here are four reasons to keep you motivated during the year ahead.
For Our Father
“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children . . .” These were the words spoken by our Heavenly Father to the earthly fathers and mothers in the days of the Israelites of old. God cares about what our children are taught and who teaches them. When we raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, He receives glory as our children become living monuments to the truth that God’s ways are best.
When the children of Christians are no different from the children of the world, we tarnish God’s name. But when a Christian family goes out into the world with an unmistakable air of something different about them—when the children are obedient, respectful, and courteous—we have the opportunity to shine as lights in our world. As Jesus instructed, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Yes, for the glory of our Father, we should seek to raise our children in His ways. I believe with all my heart that raising the next generation for Christ is just as much service to God as preaching His word to the masses or going as a missionary to a foreign land. The same God who gave us the Great Commission also instructed us to teach our children and raise the next generation for Him.
We find this highlighted with penetrating clarity in the Book of Malachi. It’s interesting to note that this book comprises God’s final written revelation to the children of Israel before His 400-year silence between the Old and New Testaments. Although the book is short, God uses these brief words to confront the Israelites about several areas in which they are failing to obey Him. It’s as if God is giving some final instructions about vital issues before “going off the air” for the next 400 years.
One of the issues God confronts is divorce, and in the midst of His instruction, God reveals with incisive precision the purpose of marriage. Why does He make a husband and wife one? “That he might seek a godly seed.” In other words, one of the fundamental, foundational purposes of your marriage is to raise children for the glory of our Father. Christian home education is nothing less than the acceptance of this calling and investing yourself in it with diligence and vigor.
We shouldn’t seek to raise our children as monuments to ourselves, hoping those around us will see their intelligence and praise us as their teachers. Instead, at the very heart of our commitment to homeschooling—filling, overspreading, and permeating it—should be a desire to honor and glorify God by raising our children for Him.
For Our Children
“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not,” Jesus said. Of all the glimpses God’s Word gives us into the life of Jesus, perhaps none shows more clearly His tender heart than does this one. But few show a sterner rebuke than when He declared, “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.”
Jesus cared for children, and so should we. To those He has entrusted to your keeping, it should be your holiest ambition to demonstrate the love of Christ and draw them toward an understanding of the grandest spiritual reality ever communicated from God to man—that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; that in Him we find life eternal in the next world and purpose and meaning on this earth.
For the sake of our children, we must accept the charge entrusted to every parent by God Himself. We were not placed on this earth and given charge of young lives to lightly dismiss our responsibility while we pursue our own plans and ambitions. If we fail to embrace our calling to the next generation, our children will be the ones who suffer for our negligence. To trade the priceless treasure of our children’s eternal souls for the wealth and acclaims of this earth is to sell them cheaply indeed.
You’re not homeschooling because it’s easy. And you’re also probably not homeschooling because you couldn’t think of anything else to do with your time. Although there are certainly blessings for parents along the way, home education is largely an investment in your children, not necessarily the first activity you would choose for your own enjoyment.
Through homeschooling, you have opportunity to bless your children in ways innumerable. You can pass your faith, your values, and your convictions on to them, helping them build a solid foundation for life. You can give them a personalized education to help them soar academically. You can give them closer relationships with you and the rest of the family, providing the love and support they need to grow and thrive.
Researchers and statisticians discuss data and metrics, analyzing the evidence to see if homeschooling is effective. All of this research has yielded stacks of encouraging statistics. But while the researchers are conducting their careful, scientific studies, those of us on the ground realize that Christian home education isn’t just an abstract idea or dry theory—it’s a way to make a vital difference in the lives of our children.
For Our Faith
Homeschooling is not just the filling of a mind, but the nurturing of a heart—not simply the guiding of a child down the path of knowledge, but the pointing of him to the Divine Source of all wisdom and understanding.
In too many cases, the Christian parents of past generations have entrusted the care of their children to individuals and institutions who are no friends of our faith. Jesus declared that those who are not with Him are against Him. The public schools of today are hardly standing with Jesus Christ; therefore, although some might condemn us as intolerant, we may claim with biblical accuracy that the schools are against Him. Can we count on these schools to pass our faith on to the next generation? No, but we can count on them to leave behind countless casualties in the spiritual war for the next generation.
For far too long we as Christians have behaved as if it doesn’t matter how our children are taught, who is teaching them, what materials are being used, or what their learning environment is like. What will it take for us to wake up and realize it does matter? The next generation is leaving the faith in droves. It’s time for the mass exodus away from the faith by our young people to spark a mass exodus away from secular education by their parents.
We can engage in all the Christian work and ministry we want; we can send missionaries to every heathen tribe around the world; we can preach God’s word in the streets; we can declare His truth from the rooftops of every city, town, and village of our nation; yet if we fail to win the hearts and minds of our children, we have lost one of the greatest treasures—and some of the greatest potential—entrusted to our care. Certainly we should not dismiss worthwhile efforts to reach out to a lost and dying world, but we dare not let these efforts blind us to the necessity of reaching our own children for Christ and training them to walk with God.
I believe the Christian faith can once again thrive and grow, even in our dark world. But we can’t continue losing the greater part of each new generation and expect to win a lasting victory. We should seek not only to expand the Christian faith, but also to perpetuate it. Christian home education opens the door like no other lifestyle to successfully pass our faith from one generation to the next.
For Our Future
I have sometimes wondered what the world would look like if the Christian parents of the last few generations had taken more seriously their responsibility to raise their children for Christ, rather than allowing them to be trained and educated by the world. I believe we can say with confidence that our world would be very different than it is today.
That leads us to an encouraging—and at the same time, challenging—conclusion: if the Christian parents of this generation will take their responsibility seriously, the world of tomorrow can be a different place than it would otherwise be.
Each new generation replaces the one that precedes it. A look at the generation currently being raised up is a veiled glimpse into the future of our nation and our world. What does that glimpse show us? And what are we doing to make the outlook brighter?
If we surrender in the war that is raging even now for the hearts and minds of the next generation, we lose more than a brief skirmish; we allow the world to take another step toward darkness rather than light. What sort of future do we want our children to be left with?
The battle is far from hopeless, for we have God on our side, who is rich in patience and mercy. For the sake of a godly remnant, He would have spared even Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction. Are we the ones whom God has called to raise up a remnant at our time in history?
The future belongs not always to the masses, but to the dedicated, passionate few who are willing to sacrifice much for the sake of their purpose and vision. Are we willing to make the sacrifice to become the inheritors of the future?
Christian home education is an investment not only for today, but for tomorrow as well. The world will someday belong to the next generation, and it is our privilege to help shape what this generation will become.
Why We Homeschool
There are those today who view homeschooling as simply an educational alternative—nothing more than a different way of teaching our children a set of academic facts. Although we certainly believe in academic excellence, we also realize that homeschooling is infinitely more than a different approach to learning. It’s a lifestyle that’s transforming families, it’s a battleground in the struggle for the next generation, and it’s an investment in the lives of our children.
We homeschool not because it’s popular and fashionable, not because it’s easy, not because it promises the praise and acclaim of this world. No, our reasons are not bound by the considerations of a world driven by material success and achievement. Our vision finds its inspiration in God, its motivation in our children, and its hope in eternity.
For our Father, for our children, for our faith, for our future—these are the reasons we homeschool.
Jonathan Lewis, 30, is a homeschool graduate and glad of it! He is one of the founders of Home School Enrichment Magazine and enjoys writing and speaking from his perspective as a homeschool graduate. Jonathan and his wife, Linnea, were married in 2011, had their first baby in 2012, and are expecting their second this year. If you would like to invite Jonathan to speak to your group—or to get in touch with him for any other reason—drop him a note at jonathan@HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.
This article was originally published in the Sep/Oct 2009 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. Used by permission. For more information, and to request a FREE sample copy, visit www.homeschoolenrichment.com.