REMIND ME AGAIN: WHY ARE WE HOMESCHOOLING OUR CHILDREN?
Shirley and I were recently asked this question. The answer is found in the challenge that is set before us. We are having to raise our children to live in a non-Christian society. Dr. Francis Schaeffer wrote that we must be making a conscious effort to establish the next generation — that is, our children — on the Biblical world view so that they will be ready to face the difficult days and decisions that lie ahead. Where can we gain perspective amidst the changing educational and philosophical views?
“You are our letter,” explains the apostle Paul, “written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts” (II Corinthians 3:2-3). Of course, Paul was writing to those whom he had discipled at Corinth; but, in essence, our children are becoming “our letter of Christ” as we care for them, and as they grow, they too will be “read by all men.” What an eternal perspective. Remember! Our children have soft hearts and are becoming “our letter of Christ” to a culture that so desperately needs to know Him. God has given us this wonderful opportunity. The family is the first place discipleship should be happening.
Care for the Letter
Paul described his care for “the letter,” those people whom he was discipling, with the analogy of a mother and father caring for their children:
But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory
(I Thessalonians 2: 7-12, emphasis added).
Paul used the example of a mother and father to describe discipleship — his “care of the letter.” His first picture is that of a nursing mother gently and tenderly caressing and cherishing her child. Just as she imparts her whole life to this child, so does Paul to those whom he is discipling. I am reminded of Shirley waking in the middle of the night to care for the needs of our young children and then awake early the next morning to continue in her care. Yes, it was labor and hardship. It was “night and day.”
Paul then enlarges the analogy to include the father. He explains that a father is given the role of exhorting each of his children personally. We are to be stimulating and encouraging them. A father is to give his children the vision and the direction to live their lives in such a way that his children reflect the character and nature of God. True discipleship means caring for the “letter of Christ that will be read by all men.”
Writing the Letter
But, fathers must be careful. As fathers we are specifically instructed not to exasperate our children (Colossians 3:21). To exasperate is to embitter, to irritate, or to provoke. To exasperate our children will smudge the letter that is being written. We have been given the opportunity to partner with God in the writing of the letter. How should we approach the awesome responsibility of writing the letter of Christ to the culture?
The follow six principles are offered as guidelines. The word VIRTUE forms the basis of these ideas.
V - VALUE OUR CHILDREN
According to Solomon, “children are a gift of the LORD; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them…” (Psalm 127:3-5). What words are used to describe children? GIFT … FRUIT … REWARD. How is the father with children viewed? BLESSED!
I _ INSPIRE OUR CHILDREN
We want to inspire them to know and love God. The primary way we get to know God is through the Bible. If we really believe that knowing God and His Son is the most vital experience in the world, dare we leave the responsibility for this instruction to someone else? The best way to pass on a knowledge and love of God is through daily Bible reading and “singing and making melody” (Ephesians 5: 19) as a family.
R - RELATE TO OUR CHILDREN
Parents who read the Bible together with their children, who spend time developing a love for good literature and who learn to love beautiful music and art together, will have an unusual delight in what is good and true and an uncommon commitment to it. Spending this kind of quality time together will be deepening your relationship with your children.
T- TEACH OUR CHILDREN
We, as parents and educators, must consciously be teaching our children the implications of the Biblical world view in all aspects of life. Teaching our children to reason from the Biblical world view will give them the ability to judge the thoughts and ideas of the culture. Teaching is not to be some cold theoretical theology. Moses explains that it is to be natural conversations between a father and son or daughter. And they should be a natural part of conversation.
U- OUR CHILDREN ARE UNIQUE
We must become students of our children. We must know our children intimately — their talents, their abilities, their hopes, and dreams. As we spend time with our children, we will know their hearts.
E - EXAMPLES TO OUR CHILDREN
The Apostle Paul wrote: “The things you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will teach others also.” Our example of virtue and righteousness is to be passed into four generations! We must begin to think of our children as our major disciples.
These are the ones God has given us the greatest opportunity to influence. Do not miss this opportunity! When it comes to writing this letter, we must emphasize that we cannot apply mechanical rules in this area of life anymore than we can in any other area.
David Quine is a nationally recognized speaker and author heading Cornerstone Curriculum, a Christian based educational curriculum. He draws on 30 years of experience as a teacher, administrator, consultant, and author. As a homeschooling father, David brings his personal experience to present high content programs with challenge and encouragement. David gives presentations to state conventions and local support groups. His area of expertise include: Christian education, Biblical worldview, discipleship, math, and science education, and music and art education. He and his wife, Shirley, have home educated their nine children in Richardson, Texas since 1980.
Contact author when reprinting this article. David Quine, firstname.lastname@example.org