“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10).

“There are too many toys to pick up! I can’t! I’m too tired!”

“I can’t redo these math problems! They were just small mistakes anyway. I know how to do them.”

“I can’t practice the piano that long!”

“Um, I just forgot to empty the dishwasher, Mom.”

Maybe my house is the only one to ring with similar declarations? I doubt it. If you haven’t heard something like that yet, your children are probably too young to talk! It’s not that such complaints mean that the children are worse than other people’s children—far from it. It means that the children are in the process of learning to be faithful. But oh, my goodness, it is a process, and processes take time!

In twenty-two years of homeschooling, God has taught me many lessons, refined me, and enlarged my vision. Once I dreamed of authoring great books, winning championships with my thoroughbreds or, after becoming a mom, watching my perfectly homeschooled child be installed as Supreme Court Justice. After several years of homeschooling, my dream transitioned to seeing my son sweep the kitchen floor thoroughly the first time!

How can such a change be an enlarging of my vision? God showed me the sweeping truth (pun intended) that faithfulness in the little things is the highest calling He places on our children, and on us. Without that faithfulness, the larger dreams are empty of meaning.

The thing is, homeschooling is precisely all about the “little things.” From the time your child is born, each day is filled with decisions. Do I burp the baby now and wake him up or wait and see? Do I feed him on a schedule or on demand? Do I spend all day making my toddler pick up the Cheerios she threw down in anger or just do it myself? Is my 5-year-old ready to read, or shall we relax a year? Shall I make my third-grader rewrite this neatly? What are the appropriate consequences for a sixth-grader who consistently “forgets” to finish her chores?

Our challenge is to teach our children faithfulness in these “little things” day in and day out, correcting them gently, so that they finish their journeys with hearts and minds of willing obedience to God’s principles. Obedience can be achieved for a season through force, but force cannot win hearts of willing faithfulness in every “little thing.” Willing obedience will come about only as a response from a heart and mind devoted to God.

So how do we get there? First and foremost, of course, we model it. They are watching us. We parents must be faithful in every little thing we do. Next, we correct them in love as we see them err, the same way God corrects us. Another powerful way we help them is by explaining the root causes of great achievements or great failures everywhere we see them—in Scripture, in books, in movies, and in real life. We help them see it for themselves, which helps win their minds and hearts to God’s truths as they gain deeper insight; in short, we disciple our children.

Gloriously, in God’s Word we see the importance of these little things perfectly illustrated, if we but have eyes to see. Take the life of David. Most of us know the highlights of David’s life: his fight with Goliath, his anointing by Samuel as future king, his harp-playing that calmed the evil spirit in King Saul, and his powerful psalms, which minister to us today. Just take a moment to think about David as a young boy, learning in his home, going about his daily life with chores and lessons. Long before he went to the Valley of Elah, taking bread to his brothers in the midst of a standoff with the Philistine army or to play music before King Saul, David was a boy in his home. We know he took care of some of the family’s sheep in the wilderness. He obviously became an accomplished musician and poet. Unless God supernaturally bestowed these gifts on David, he likely learned those skills somewhere!