Monday, October 19, 2009

"Being Equipped" and the Will of God

"Trust in the LORD and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him and He will do it."
Psalm 37:3-5

I have been amazed and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of positive feedback I have received for last week's post. I had prepared myself for the likely-hood that I would receive a lot of criticism for what I had written. Instead, I learned that there are many more like-minded parents out there than I had imagined. What a blessing it is to be among friends. Thank-you!

I have had a couple people share with me a concern, that I wish to address here today. Some people worry that, with all the voices out there calling for Christians to remove their children from government schools (mine not being nearly the loudest nor most influential, of course), that some people who are "ill-equipped" or "not committed to homeschooling" may feel obligated to do so, and do damage by (a) not being good enough teachers for their children and (b) giving the rest of us home educating families a bad reputation. While I can see where this concern is coming from, I think it is a worry that can be easily put to rest.

First off, I have little concern that people who are "not committed to homeschooling" will try it. People are skilled masters at justifying their own actions. If they really don't want to do it, they aren't going to be guilted into trying it by me, Voddie Baucham, or anyone else for that matter. Again, let me reiterate that, for many Christians, a quality Christian school will be the right avenue for providing a Christ-centered education for their children. If parents are convicted by the LORD that they ought remove their children from the public schools, but are not wanting to educate their children at home, a private Christian school is a valid and worthy alternative.

So, Why am I not wringing my hands over the possibility that well-meaning parents may leap head-long into homeschooling without really knowing what they are getting into? For one powerful, and profound reason:

If God convicts a believer's heart and leads him or her to act in obedience to His Word, He will provide the resources to bring it to pass. Do the Scriptures not teach us this?

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness." 2 Peter 1:3

Do we not believe that when we "Trust in the LORD and do good"...when we "Commit our way to the LORD" that he will honor our obedience? Indeed, many times in my life I have found that my ability to obey comes only after my willingness to obey. As I step out in faith, and act on what I know to be true from the Word of God, He teaches me what I need to know. He provides the resources, the people, and the stamina I need to accomplish what He has set before me.

Remember Noah? Did God say, "You know, there's a big flood coming. It's going to destroy all life on earth. If I were you, I'd think of!" Of course not! He gave Noah specific instructions as to how to build the Ark, and provided the resources he needed to do the job--measurements, material specifications, brain power, man power (read: three strong sons), and a packing list. When it came time to fill the boat with animals, he didn't have to wander the fields and forests and gather the animals himself--they came right to the door of the Ark, two by two. God gave the command and the resources to obey. Noah acted in faith.

"And without faith, it is impossible to please Him,
For he who comes to God must believe that He is
and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen,
in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household,
by which he condemned the world,
and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith."
Hebrews 11:6-7

There is a misunderstanding, I think, about what it means to be "equipped" to educate a child. No doubt, this misunderstanding stems from the profound control the government-run educational establishment has over the argument. We have been conditioned to believe that anyone that teaches children ought have at least a college degree--probably a teaching degree!--and should have a similar personality style and skill set to the typical classroom teacher.

I completely disagree with this line of logic. I have actually argued the point that our government schools would be in better shape if we would lose the teaching-degree requirement nonsense and start hiring teachers based on their understanding of the subject matter and their ability to communicate it to the students. There are plenty of people out there with teaching degrees who are lousy teachers--and there are plenty of people out there who would make excellent teachers who cannot be hired by schools because they do not possess that ever-important teaching degree.

But I digress...

I have seen many parents--from many walks of life--become successful at  homeschooling.

  • People who are wealthy by the world's standards, and people who are quite poor compared to other Americans, 
  • People who are mature in their faith, as well as newer believers who see the way that they educate their children as one more thing about their life that needs to change because of Christ,
  • Former classroom teachers, yes...but also factory workers, farmers, carpenters, ballerinas, truck drivers, nurses, accountants, waitresses, librarians, physical therapists, pastors, midwives and mail carriers. Homemakers who have no formal education beyond high school are often the most qualified people to teach their own children--and the vast majority of them do an excellent job of it.
While there will always be "bad parents" who homeschool (just as there are "bad parents" who send their children to government schools, and "bad teachers" in those schools), I think there is little concern that people who are removing their children from the government schools to give their children a Christian education will do damage to their children. In most cases, if these people had their children do nothing but read the Bible and play outside for their first full year of homeschooling, they would be better off then if they had left them in the public schools. That being said, if you are concerned that there are people within your circle of influence who are jumping head-long into homeschooling without much forethought, there are a few things that you can do:
  • Invite them to join your co-op. If you don't have one, start one. A good co-op of Christian home educators is one of the most excellent resources for a new home educating family. I have been immeasurably blessed by mine. It has allowed me to connect with other like-minded moms, to learn from their successes and mistakes and to grow in my abilities as a mother and educator far beyond what I could have done on my own. It has also helped to answer the dreaded, "What about socialization?" question when asked by concerned friends and family members. We get together with other families from our co-op at least once a week--more than that when you count Sunday School, AWANA on Wednesday nights, our nature club, and various other field trips that we participate in as a group. The "everybody's doing it" argument can be surprisingly powerful when taken from the other angle. "Why, so many of his friends are also homeschooled! If I sent him to the public school, he wouldn't know anyone!"
  • Become a Mentor and Friend. Titus 2:3-5 commands older women to teach younger women how to be godly wives, mothers, and homemakers. You may be in your 20s or 30s and not feel in any way "old", but if you've been successfully home educating for any length of time, you qualify as a mentor to a mother who is new to the concept. When my eldest was three years old, a woman from my church whose home-educated children were all over the age of 11 instituted a "girlfriend lunch" at her house every other Friday. Several homeschooling moms would come over and bring a light dish to pass. The kids would play in the basement or the backyard, and we would talk about the issues we were facing as wives, mothers, teachers, and children of God. I learned so much from these conversations, and was strengthened in my resolve to "love [my] husband, love [my] children, to be sensible, pure, [a]worker at home, kind, being subject to [my] own husband, so that the word of God will not be dishonored." (Titus 2:4-5)  What a blessing! How could you do something similar for those within your circle of influence?
  • Share Resources. Solomon warned that, "Of the making of books there is no end," in Ecclesiastes 12:12. This is notably true of homeschooling curriculum. The vast array of available choices for home educators can be dizzying. One of the most compassionate thing you can do for a new home educator is to allow her to look through your materials, so that she can see what is working for you before she spends a lot of money. Pointing her toward resources that are available for free at the library or over the internet is another way to be helpful. Offer to look through your favorite curriculum catalog with her, and point out what you like and why you like it. If you need a good starting place, check out the Elijah Company Resource Guide. A dear friend handed me a copy of this inexpensive gem when I was first starting out, and I've yet to find a better primer for the beginning home educator. It discusses a basic philosophy of homeschooling, introduces each major "style" of home education, and recommends the "cream" of available books and resources.  The Elijah Company no longer sells curriculum themselves, but their guide is a useful tool to help a parent navigate the endless curriculum listings on Homeschool Classifieds, Rainbow Resource, or Christian Book Distributors.
  • Pray for them. Maybe this should be obvious, but it is often overlooked. As a home educating mother, I welcome all the prayers I can get. My job and my calling are not easy ones--especially in a day and age where motherhood and the domestic arts are spit upon in some circles and all but forgotten in others. So, pray for the parents who are being led by the Holy Spirit to remove their children from government schools. As James 5:16-18 states,
"The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
Elijah was a man, with a nature like ours,
and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain,
and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.
Then he prayed again,
and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit."

Let us pray that the LORD will pour down his Spirit upon those who are being called to educate their children at home, and that their obedient labor will produce abundant fruit in the lives of their children.


Molly said...

Thank you for all that you said it was fantastic. We as Mothers have been chosen by God to raise up a righteous generation. Who better than the people chosen by God to teach their children. If its a choice between God's Choice and the government's choice, I'll go with God's choice every time. Read The Forth turning, I think you would really enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Again I agree with everything you said!

Samantha said...

I saw your post on the lounge...I am looking for followers too! I just posted briefly about weaning my youngest. :(

Anonymous said...

God gives you a child, not so that you can let that blessing be formed and molded by others, but so that YOU, can lead and almost paint the world around them for them for the first several years of their lives! Young mothers don't understand anymore, the POWER that we mothers have. We construct the background and the contents of their lives for at the very least for the first five years! That is power that tyrants only dream of!
Decide what kind of world you want your children to see and dwell in, and then do your best, God will do the rest.
We have been homeschooling since my 29 year old daughter was in second grade, and I still have three at home; we have homeschooled through just about every form of calamity that you can think of. From the small disruptions, to the complete life flipping-every day after that day is different kind of trials, and it NEVER occurred to me to put them in school!
God had laid it on my heart, and I knew that even if all I did was teach them how to read, and then surround them with good books that they would be much better off than they would be in our governments schools! There were some days that I was so sick, I sat next to my kids with my head resting on the kitchen table, but even then, what was necessary was always done by the Grace of God. We continued on through my daughter being widowed and coming home to be with us with our two Grandsons, who were 3 and 1.
I am not a high energy, extremely organized person, but by the Grace of God for that month that I had my three boys, my two Grandsons, not to mention my grieving daughter and all of the regular demands to take care of, I had, each day, what I needed for that day.
Why anyone (besides those who have no choice) still have their children in our government schools is a complete mystery to me. Adults would never go day after day in to a hostile environment like that... we'd sue someone, or call the police, or be picketing after a week... but you send your kids to the lion's den?
What God asks you to do, He will give you the ability and resources to do. Amen

Anonymous said...

I didn't intend to be anonymous, I didn't understand the profile dropbox. I'm Melissa or mine is the long post about what God asks you to do, He will give you the ability to do. And I still don't understand the dropbox options. Am I that far behind the technology, Melissa

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your powerful words of encouragement. I am new to homeschooling and I doubt myself at times. What have I taken on? How am I going to finish the housework? I know to pray and ask God for the energy and wisdom to carry on. I smile and look at my four little blessings. I keep at it. Madeline

*Mirage* said...

Hello! I'm new to your blog and like what I see so far. :) I've been blogging a couple months so a newbie to it myself with not many followers. Welcome to Bloggyland. ;)

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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

My Writing Elsewhere...

Fixing Your Heart on Titus 2

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Tuesday--His Integrity
Wednesday--His Mind
Thursday--His Purpose
Friday--His Health
Saturday--His Protection
Sunday--His Faith

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Success is not learned. It is discovered and nurtured. What was your child born to do?

Our Curriculum 2010-2011

Bible--Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos, Apologia Biblical World View Book 1, "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?"
Catechism-- "Training Hearts, Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade
Phonics--Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
(Kindergarten), Year 1 Booklist (1st Grade)
Handwriting--Bible Copywork, made using Educational Fontware
Spelling-- All About Spelling Level 1 (1st grade)
Math--Math-U-See Primer (Kindergarten) , Math-U-See Alpha (1st grade)
World History--Simply Charlotte Mason's Genesis Through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt
American History--The Light and The Glory For Children Series
Art--Interest-led projects and handicrafts
Geography and Missions-- "Hero Tales" by Dave and Neta Jackson, as well as various other missionary biographies, incorporating globe and map study
*We will be studying music and phy-ed., participating in a writing club and nature club, as well as attending various field trips, with our church's homeschool group.*

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Raising Homemakers

Raising Homemakers

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