Ordinary World Changers
- Friday, August 14, 2009
It was beautifully packaged when it arrived. The best deceptions always are. And ever since Eve was beguiled by the old serpent’s falsehood in Paradise, we her children have been just as eager as she to accept a lie beautifully told.
It has been said that God always saves the best for last, while Satan presents us with his best first, hiding the final payment for our gratification behind a tantalizing show of pleasures enticing to our senses. And so the lie came, and the lie was packaged by the master of glittering deceit. The destruction within was carefully concealed from our willingly blinded eyes.
And what exactly was this lie? Simply this: that staying home to raise children was a waste of a woman’s talents and time; that true fulfillment must be found in the rough and tumble of the world, not in the obscure sphere of home and family; that the mammon of this world, which can never be carried into the next, was worth more of a mother’s time and devotion than the eternal treasures of her own children.
Such was the skill of the deceiver that we accepted his lie, never thinking how easily we might have torn aside the lovely wrappings to expose the ugliness beneath. Such was our zeal to accept the lie beautifully told that children by the countless thousands have known only a mother preoccupied with the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, and have never known their home as the haven it might have been.
A similar lie was presented to fathers: that training and mentoring their children was somehow beneath their masculine importance; that raising children was the mother’s job; that they, as the fathers, didn’t need to be bothered by the concerns of the home circle.
The fruit of these lies can be seen all around us as we are the daily eyewitnesses to the collapse of morality and virtue in our society. Doubtless we cannot trace all of our societal problems back to the abdication of parental responsibility, but an honest look at the facts compels us to admit that the increasing absence of both mothers and fathers from their children’s lives has had an enormous negative impact on our society.
There can be no doubt that parents are the key influence in their children’s lives. Even professional educators recognize this, citing parental involvement as one of the foremost indicators of academic success. Kathleen Cotton and Karen Reed Wikelund, in their article “Parent Involvement in Education,” write:
The research overwhelmingly demonstrates that parent involvement in children’s learning is positively related to achievement. Further, the research shows that the more intensively parents are involved in their children’s learning, the more beneficial are the achievement effects. This holds true for all types of parent involvement in children’s learning and for all types and ages of students.
Looking more closely at the research, there are strong indications that the most effective forms of parent involvement are those which engage parents in working directly with their children on learning activities in the home (emphasis added).
Of course, the impact from involved parents doesn’t stop at academics. And none of this comes as a surprise to homeschoolers, who have taken parental involvement to the limit. The mystery is why, with so much evidence supporting the advantages of parental involvement, stay-at-home moms don’t have more respect in society. Why do we still view full-time moms as flunkies who either don’t have the skill or lack the ambition to do anything really “important”? And why do so many fathers still consider active involvement in the lives of their children as beneath their importance?
It ought to be apparent to society by now that we have fallen for a pair of insidious lies; it ought to be obvious by this point that for parents to invest themselves willingly and continually into the lives of their children is one of the highest callings they’ll ever fulfill. And yet the great deception seems to continue unabated. When we will wake up and realize this, I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that homeschoolers are uniquely poised at this moment in history to have a tremendous impact on our nation and the world.
Why? Because we understand a vital truth, and we have reshaped our lives to live according to this truth. We recognize that parents have a fundamental responsibility to shape not only their children’s minds, but also their hearts. We recognize that whoever wins the battle for the hearts and minds of our children simultaneously wins the war for the next generation.
For far too long, Christian parents have surrendered their responsibility and left the raising of their children to the world. Not surprisingly, we are reaping what we have sown. Up to 88% of children from Christian homes who are subjected to 12 years of public education leave the church by the time they graduate from high school. The next generation of Christ’s army has been trained by the enemy and is fleeing our ranks just at the time of life when they should have been fit for battle.
The picture for homeschool graduates is radically different, however. Dr. Brian Ray’s 2003 study Homeschooling Grows Up revealed that over 90% of homeschool graduates continue in the faith of their parents. These figures are refreshingly positive and serve as confirmation that God’s plan for the family really does work. And this is precisely why homeschoolers are poised to make a difference in the world. While so many Christians are losing the battle for the next generation, we have determined to fight back. We are engaged in a task no less significant than raising up a new generation that is able and ready to advance the kingdom of God and the cause of Christ.
Can an army of young people who have been trained in the nurture and admonition of the Lord enter the world and leave it unchanged? Can they go forth with purpose in their eyes and determination in their step and leave society untouched?
When we look around the world today, we see decline and chaos on every hand. Given the enormity of our problems, it may seem hopeless to think that we can make a positive difference. After all, can any one of us change the world alone? Perhaps not. One individual acting alone rarely does. But simply because our individual capabilities are limited does not diminish the vitality of our role. The task of changing our world for the better may be divided between millions of us; the role that any one of us individually will fill may seem insignificant. But we dare not succumb to the belief that we are expendable simply because we are incapable of accomplishing the whole task. If we do, our united potential will dissipate like the morning mist. Let each of us bravely and consistently do our part—however small—and the greatest tasks can be accomplished.
God has raised up the Christian homeschooling movement at this point in history for a special purpose. Like Esther in the Old Testament, we have been brought to this position to accomplish something unique. At a time when the world seems intent on self-destruction, God has raised up a community of Christian parents with the capability of producing thousands—yes, even millions—of young people with a different set of values than the world around them.
You have within the walls of your home—sitting at your table, playing on your floor, scampering through your halls—one of the most powerful weapons of our time: children whom you can train to go out into the world and accomplish great things for God; children who can dream great visions and make them reality; children who can slay the Goliaths of our generation as they echo the words of the youthful David, “Is there not a cause?”
The Bible tells us in Psalm 127:4–5, “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” An archer sends out his arrows to go beyond where he can reach—to accomplish what he cannot personally do. In the same way, parents send forth their grown children—after properly training and equipping them—to reach beyond the bounds of their own time and space, to go where they cannot, and to accomplish the things God has set before them.
The differences between our homeschooled young people and the rest of the world can be stark, for we have the opportunity to train our children with the character, convictions, and spiritual maturity that most of the world lacks. We can train them to be motivated while the rest of the world is apathetic; we can train them to be independent thinkers while the rest of the world is going with the flow; we can train them to be dedicated to excellence while the rest of the world contents itself with mediocrity; we can train them to be selfless servants while the rest of the world seeks its own pleasure; we can raise them to build their lives on the solid foundation of Christ while the rest of the world builds on the sands of false religions, misguided worldviews, and hedonistic pleasures. Pause for a moment to consider the reality of these differences, and then ask yourself if the world will be the same 30 years from now if we succeed in sending out tens of thousands of such young people.
If the army of homeschool graduates currently being raised up has the potential to change the world, then the parents who are sacrificing so much of their time and energy to nurture and disciple them certainly are equally significant. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the gathering ranks of common, ordinary homeschooling moms and dads are the unseen world changers of our generation.
Mom, every time you’re discouraged and feeling tempted to put your kids on the Big Yellow School Bus the next time it rumbles by your door, remember that you’re part of something bigger than yourself—you’re part of a movement God has raised up to have a greater impact on our world than you can imagine. You’re one of hundreds of thousands of other moms and dads who have decided to recapture the vision of dedicated parenting and raise up a generation who will turn this world upside down for God.
As the world was transformed once by the abdication of parental responsibility, so it can be transformed again by the re-acceptance of it.
The devil would like nothing better than for you to become discouraged and give up on your kids. That’s why he’s happy for society to bombard you with the message that you’re wasting your time at home; that’s why he seeks to allure you with all the temptations the world has to offer. But think about it this way: he wouldn’t try so desperately to tempt you away from your home and children if the extra effort spent raising your kids was having no positive impact on the world.
Your role may not seem exciting; you may spend your days in the quiet, unnoticed tasks of home and family. The world may never know you exist. But when you send forth your children as the arrows of a mighty warrior, the nations won’t be able to help but take notice. With God’s blessing, we can make a homegrown difference in the world around us. And it all starts with individual moms and dads willing to accept their calling and join the ranks of the ordinary world changers.
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Jonathan Lewis, 26, is a homeschool graduate who believes that Christian home education is the most effective way to train up a new generation to impact the world for God. In 2002, he helped start Home School Enrichment Magazine with his family. Jonathan writes and speaks from his perspective as a homeschool graduate, hoping to encourage and inspire parents to remain faithful in their calling. You can reach him at jonathan@HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.
This article was originally published in the Jul/Aug ’09 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. Visit http://www.homeschoolenrichment.com/ for more information.
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