And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach. Mark 3:14

When Jesus Christ began His public ministry, He invited men to be with Him and follow Him. These men were not merely shadows everywhere He went; Christ intended for them to hear Him pray, observe Him doing miracles, listen to Him speak, and understand His heart. They were given ample opportunities to learn from His activities and teachings. His disciples would notice how He treated every kind of person from prostitutes to Pharisees. Their following was not a pointless exercise to pass the time. Jesus was planning to create disciples who would carry on His work after He was gone from this earth.

One of the goals my wife and I have in homeschooling our five children is to prepare them for ministry. As we homeschool, they hear us teach and disciple them in the truth of God's Word. They notice how we react to conflict. They observe our faithfulness and love for the Lord in our daily lives. They see whom we turn to, and what we do when we're under pressure. They not only hear about our faith, but also understand our commitment to God's calling. In short, we are making disciples of those who are with us.

Many people would be persuaded that this goal of preparing children for God's calling is a foolish waste of time. Shouldn't the priority be to train them in the things of the world? After all, they will have to live in the world, they will have to socialize in the world, they will have to make their own way and earn their living in the world. As parents, wouldn't it be smarter to exchange this "calling" stuff for a more practical priority?

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Psalm 34:11

Our motivation for home schooling has never been to shelter our children from every worldly evil but to teach them the "fear of the Lord" and the truth that "sets them free." The Scriptures tell us of the miraculous benefits in rearing children in the fear of the Lord; the values go far beyond the academic.

  • The fear of the Lord endures forever (Psalm 19:9).
  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).
  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).
  • The fear of the Lord produces a hatred for evil, pride, arrogancy, and a perverted mouth (Proverbs 8:13).
  • The fear of the Lord prolongs days (Proverbs 10:27).
  • The fear of the Lord is strong confidence (Proverbs14:26).
  • The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life (Proverbs 14:27).
  • The fear of the Lord brings abiding (permanent) satisfaction (Proverbs 19:23).
  • By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life (Proverbs 22:4).

Learning the fear of the Lord actually ensures lasting wisdom, knowledge, confidence, satisfaction, uncommon riches, and honor. It guards against all kinds of sinfulness and contributes to a high quality of life. The by-products of this godliness are what make a person "salt" and "light" in the world. As we instruct our children in the Word of God, my wife and I are teaching them to live, work, and socialize in the world but with a different purpose. That purpose is to reverence (fear) the Lord by living like Christ: reflecting His character, speaking His Gospel of peace and winning others.

Jesus didn't call His disciples for the purpose of sheltering them from the world (though as parents we should certainly shelter our children to some extent), nor did he plan to disciple them indefinitely. While they were with Him, He taught them. He let them ask questions, work under His supervision, learn at their own pace, and graciously gave them room to make some mistakes from time to time. All along, however, Christ was preparing them to continue the work of the ministry. It was a work which was meant to change the world . . . and it did! His disciples had a reputation for "turning the world upside down."