Christian Education Awareness Network (CEANet)
Homeschooling from a Biblical Worldview
by Israel Wayne
Chapter One Keeping an Eternal Perspective
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12-14)
"The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (II Corinthians 3:12)
"It’s not enough to reach our own generation. I want to reach them and their children and grandchildren. We can influence people for Christ who aren’t even born yet!" -- Morgan Cryar (Singer/songwriter & homeschool dad)
One of my biggest obstacles as a student was a short attention span. Any movement out the window, a nearby conversation, an abstract thought that waltzed into my mind -- I could be distracted by anything.
A hurdle that every student driver must overcome is the tendency to look directly in front of the vehicle instead of looking down the road. Constantly looking ten feet in front of the car, and correcting the wheel every few seconds, causes frustration.
This shortsighted vision can affect homeschoolers as well. There are mothers who become so exasperated at their children’s inability to grasp a geometry problem, that they scream at their children and throw books. This is an extreme reaction, but it clearly illustrates that, we can become too engrossed in the temporary and miss the eternal.
It is easy to overlook God’s purposes in homeschooling. We get so wrapped up in nonessentials that we forfeit the blessing God has for us. How do we keep from getting off the track? We need a target!
Why Are We Homeschooling?
This is a pivotal question that we must clearly understand and be able to articulate. If we are unclear regarding our motivation for homeschooling we will be confused and discouraged when trials come our way.
Is it because we:
...wanted a better education for our children than they were getting in the public school,
...wanted to spend more time with our children,
...didn’t want our children turning out like those rebellious kids in public schools,
...wanted to teach our children Christian values,
...had a blowout with the public/private school and decided to pull our children out,
...love our children and want the best for them,
...saw our child was constantly being picked on by teachers and beat up by students in school,
...felt the Lord calling us to teach our children at home,
...thought we should try it for a year, and we liked it so much we decided to keep going, or
...all of our friends were starting to homeschool and it made sense to us?
We have all faced a point of decision regarding the issue of homeschooling. Many factors may influence us and bring us to a point of surrender, but our motivation for why we home educate must be clearly defined.
I’ve often been asked, "Israel, as a homeschool graduate, would you teach your children at home and, if so, why?" I always answer, "I wouldn’t even consider sending my children to someone else to be educated." Since I have experienced the fruit of home education, I am confident that it is the right choice!
Many have begun to homeschool because that have seen that home education works and they want the best for their children. Wisdom is being proven by all her children. (Luke 7:35) "Seeing is believing," but how many of us would have the faith to swim upstream against all tradition and teach our children at home, if it weren’t for the well-marked trails of the pioneers?
In 1978, my mother didn’t have the proof and statistics that we have now. She didn’t have the examples of other families. But, she believed God, and took Him at His Word. As she searched Scripture, she consistently found God calling parents to teach their own children.
The fact is, as a parent there will always be new terrain. There will be new challenges that you won’t have easy answers for. There will be questions that this book won’t answer. Where do you turn for the solution? You look to the same place my mother did... the Word of God.
The Obedience Factor
In Proverbs 22:6 there is a clear, obligatory command, "Train up a child in the way he should go." There is an imperative emphasis in this verse that demands obedience. Often we focus on the second part of the verse and begin to lose perspective. Do we "train up a child" so that "when he is old he won’t depart"?
To every choice, there is a consequence. A faithful child, remaining in his parents’ instruction, is the result of obedience to this command. However, we should "train up a child" simply because God commanded it. The resultant blessing is the fruit of obedience, not the motivation.
Homeschooling can bring many blessings: academic excellence, better social behavior, obedient children, close-knit families, etc. These are added to us as we seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.
"Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep His charge, and His statutes, and His judgments, and His commandments, always." (Deut. 11:1) This is why we should homeschool. God commands parents to teach their own children God’s law, and we must be obedient.
By keeping in mind that we are homeschooling out of obedience, not preference, our family has avoided becoming discouraged when things become difficult. If my mother were to look at the temporal for motivation, there would have been days when she would have despaired and said, "This isn’t working! My children are never going to be obedient, mature, responsible adults."
We’d have soon found ourselves behind a desk at the local elementary school! However, we are committed to the process of discipleship and we look for what God is presently doing in our lives -- not just the end result. We realize that hard times will come. There may be days of conflict where we struggle to keep a loving attitude, but we know that God wants to perfect us.
The Biblical Mandate
"Teach these things to your children and their children after them." (Deut. 4:9-10)
"Teach them [these commands] to your children, talking about them when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." (Deut. 11:18-21)
Psalm 78 embodies the heart of homeschooling. There are many other verses that demonstrate the Lord’s desire for parents to teach and train their own children. (See Gen. 18:19, Ex. 10:2, 12:26-27, 13:8 & 14, Prov. 3:1)
A Response To God, Not A Reaction To Public School
When we stray from the Biblical pattern of parents teaching their children, we are faced with the natural consequences of ignoring God’s design. The chaos and dissolution we see in public schools is a result of forsaking God’s patterns. We may "clean up" the classroom, and reinstate morality in the schools, but it still falls short of God’s perfect order. Institutionalized learning is never sanctioned by God in Scripture.
Traditional classroom teaching is a man-made, artificial substitute invented to excuse us from fulfilling our God-given responsibility to teach our own children. It is critical that we come to a place of Biblical conviction concerning God’s perfect will.
On a talk show recently, the host asked me if all homeschoolers are extreme reactionaries who tend to be overly concerned with the faults of public school and are making a radical, paranoid departure. I told him that although some parents may homeschool as a means to punish "The System," I believe most are motivated by a love and concern for their children.
Obedience to God is what motivates me to advocate homeschooling. It doesn’t make any difference to me what the public school is doing, because they are not the standard -- God’s Word is the standard. When I see the moral demise of government education, I’m reminded that "He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge." (Prov. 14:26)
Rev. S. Phillips said in 1861, "Home education in all its parts is most sadly neglected and abused at the present day. Many parents think that the office of teacher is not included in the parental mission and character. The neglect of home-training seems to arise out of an existing prejudice against it... If you do not educate your child in the truths of nature and religion, be assured he will become trained in falsehood and the ways of Satan."
If God’s design is for parents to educate their own children, what are His purposes and plans?
God Wants The Hearts of Parents
Jesus’ last command was to make disciples. Discipleship is a main artery that runs through Christianity. God wants to prepare His people for service, and He is using the homeschooling environment to accomplish this goal.
In homeschooling the focus is, most often, on the development of the child. From God’s perspective, it begins with parents. He has promised to "turn the hearts of the fathers to their children." (Mal. 4:6) Before God uses the parent in the child’s life, He requires the complete surrender of the parent’s heart.
That is why God says, "And these word, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart." (Deut. 6:6) Only then can it be effectively transmitted to your children. When Joshua stood up to the tidal wave of idolatry in his day, he didn’t say, "As for my children, they will serve the LORD." Instead, he says, "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)
This is sometimes a painful process. As parents begin to undertake the responsibility of rearing their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, they begin to see their own shortcomings and imperfections exposed in God’s light. In the close-knit discipleship setting of home teaching, parents see character flaws in their own lives, and God begins to remove selfishness, impatience, anger, pride, etc. Then, as God teaches parents these eternal truths, they can teach them to their children.
Parents’ Eternal Key|
God’s primary reasons for having you teach your children at home are to: 1) Help your children to know God, 2) Impress upon your children’s hearts the ancient truths of Scripture which prepare them for Kingdom ministry, and to: 3) Purify you, as you allow the fire and pressure to make you into pure gold.
God Wants To Train And Equip Children
When God has the hearts of parents, His attention turns to the children. God uses the things He is teaching mom and dad, and He begins to enable parents to transfer these principles to their children. At this point, things begin to heat up for the students. As they are being pressed and shaped by the hands of the Potter, they may feel uncomfortable and begin to fight against God’s working in their lives.
If young people lose sight of the big picture, there can be huge problems in the home. For example, if I kept my eyes on what God was doing in my life through homeschooling, I felt thankful that God was shaping my character. If I lost the eternal perspective, I’d feel nagged, bothered, picked on, etc.
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." (Jer. 29:11)
God has wonderful plans for us and great things He desires to do through us, but first He has to prepare us. King David had experienced many years of tending flocks before he was ready to slay giants and rule nations.
I encourage home learners to recognize God’s use of parents as His agents. Parents are supposed to challenge and encourage us. As a student, when I began to feel stretched, I could become angry and rebel against my parents’ loving confrontation. Or, I could seek God’s will for my life, and remember that this is all a part of my training and preparation.
Student’s Eternal Key
God’s primary purposes for students in homeschooling are: 1) He wants them to know Him. By knowing Him, His workings, in days past, His laws, principles, and promises, 2) they will be equipped to serve Him and carry out His Great Commission.
God Wants To Use Us!
As homeschoolers, we are being equipped to serve the Lord. By living within the confines of God’s Word, we are constantly facing and overcoming those things that keep us ineffective. As a family unit, we can help and encourage each other to become stronger and to keep pursuing God’s leading in our lives.
How can God adequately prepare a father for leadership in a ministry if he isn’t submitting to the Lord and leading his family according to Biblical patterns? Can God use a mother who is more concerned with her comfort and personal satisfaction than she is with the needs of her husband and children? Will God call a young person to missions, who is engrossed in the things of the world, and opposes his/her parents?
Home education will give us the tools we will need for our specific ministry. Every day, we experience and learn new things that form our character. As homeschoolers, we need to reevaluate what is essential to an education and what is merely a waste of time. We must abandon our temporal mindset.
Traditional Learning Methods Can Be Modified
We often set our schedules with the calendar of tradition. We cling to what is familiar to us. We do things the way everyone else does. We don’t like to go against the grain educationally.
From an eternal perspective, academics are unimportant, unless they prepare us to do God’s will. When we get to heaven, the Father will not ask, "Why didn’t you do more chemistry in high school?!" His concern is with our faithfulness to His commands.
Burnout is common among homeschoolers, but most of the time our frustrations are self-inflicted. Children can become bored staring at a book because they would rather be exploring or learning from experience. Parents often allow the pressures of schedules, testing, grading and organizing to exasperate them. Step back, breathe deep, and gain perspective. Can we take a trip to the museum, the zoo, the state park, or a historical site and still be fulfilling our obligations as home educators?
Can God teach us as much through singing at the local nursing home, or cleaning a house for a sick friend, as He can by our falling asleep in our math book? Let’s not put needless expectations upon ourselves. Is it essential? Does it have to be learned right now? Do we have to follow traditional methods of teaching or learning this subject? We need to see our world through God’s eyes. Guidelines, schedules, and curriculum plans can be tools for us to use, but we must avoid being bound by them.
To avoid hassles during a typical day, step back and look at the situation from an eternal perspective. When students become so frustrated at a difficult subject, that they respond in anger towards their parents and siblings, the books need to sit on the shelf until deeper spiritual lessons are learned. When school work conflicts with peace in the home, remember that God is much more concerned about our Christian life, and the unity of our families, than He is with studying cytoplasm. There is nothing wrong with consistency and discipline, but the main goal is family unity and discipleship, not military-style regimentation.
By being flexible, open to change, and unconcerned with nonessentials, we will be happier, more effective. We will learn the truly valuable lessons of life. We won’t allow eternal moments to pass us by, or miss a chance to pursue an eternal goal.
By maintaining an eternal focus, we can avoid the things that cause anger and misunderstanding. Christ wants us to have closer families, stronger relationships, better testimonies, deeper faith, more love, and greater humility. By keeping our eyes on Him, and off ourselves and our circumstances, we will make an eternal impact on the lives of others, and achieve true homeschool success.
1. Rev. S. Phillips, The Christian Home -- As It Is In The Sphere of Nature and the Church, reprinted in Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History by Rosalie J. Slayter (San Francisco, CA: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1992; fifth printing), p. 20.
(C) Copyright 2001, Israel Wayne, All Rights Reserved, Used With Permission.
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