Training Ground for Ministry
- Timothy Palla Contributing Writer
- 2004 13 Dec
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."
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
As my wife and I homeschool our children, they will learn how to read, spell, write, and communicate. We will teach them history, math, science, logic, reason, and philosophy. They will be educated in art, literature, and music. All of these things will make them knowledgeable; however, it is their training in the fear of the Lord that will turn their knowledge into wisdom and love. This is our goal in homeschooling: to create able ministers of the New Testament Gospel.
What if God does not call our children into ministry? At this stage of their lives their interests change every other day—that's to be expected. They may be called into music, military service, or farming for all I know. Whatever God has in store for them, I will want them to seek His ways and reverence Him first and foremost. Homeschooling provides my wife and I with the opportunity to disciple them for ministry; and should He call them, they will be well-prepared. If He calls them into another vocation, the foundations will still have been laid for enduring wisdom, knowledge, discernment, confidence, and satisfaction. Furthermore, if these things are present and abounding—nothing they do will be barren or unfruitful.
"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." II Peter 1:2-8
Timothy Palla was called into ministry in 1991 and he and his lovely wife, Jennifer, were called to begin homeschooling in 1993. They have five children: Drew, Dane, Aidan, Ethan and Meghan. You may contact Timothy at firstname.lastname@example.org