Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why Would a Public School Teacher Homeschool His Kids?

Why would a public school teacher choose to homeschool his children?

Many people have asked me that question since we recently decided to educate our children at home beginning this fall. AJ will be in 5th grade, Zach in 3rd and Olivia in kindergarten. Some of our dearest friends have asked us why we would not enroll our children in the very system in which I am employed. These are good questions and ones that deserve honest answers. This is not a decision that we came to impulsively. Rather it was one that we fervently prayed over and sought answers to within the Bible, while also seeking godly counsel. Over the years, as Christy and I have faced several life-changing decisions, the Lord has always been faithful to unite our hearts in agreement. In this post, I will be addressing the issue of “why” we decided to homeschool our kids. If you want the story of “how” we came to this decision, read Christy’s post here.

Writing this post has been a good exercise as it has caused us to examine our goals for our children and our motives for choosing to educate them at home. As a public high school English teacher, I understand the value of education. I work in a high quality system (one of the best in the state) committed to academic success. I have seen many students excel within this system and go on to be very successful in their lives and careers. As a teacher within this system, I honor my employer and community by striving to provide the best quality education I can to my students. I work with an outstanding staff who work hard to provide the best education possible to students. I have many close friends who are fellow teachers and staff in the school district.

So why homeschool? As a Christian, my source of truth and authority on all things is the Bible.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV).

The Bible is clear that parents should consider their children as a gift from God and we have the responsibility to give our kids a Christian education and to disciple them in the ways of Scripture.

And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20).

I used to think that education and discipleship could be done in two different environments by different groups of people, but the Bible is clear that education and discipleship are the same. One cannot be successfully completed apart from the other. The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 is a command from Christ, not a suggestion, and our part of it begins (but doesn't end) in our own home. Our decision to homeschool is mainly about the discipleship of our children.

What dreams and desires do we have for our children and how are we helping them achieve these things? Do we want them to be financially successful in lucrative careers? Do we want them to have a bigger house than we have now and enjoy the “nicer” things of life? Do we want them to be powerful and influential in the world? Is it wrong to have nice things and pursue financial success? No, of course not, but Christ’s teaching of what is most important is repeated three times in Scripture:

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
” (Matthew 16:26)

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
” (Mark 8:36)

For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25)

Christ also says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” Matthew 6:33.

Our greatest desire is for our children to fulfill the greatest two commandments, according to Jesus: “And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39).

The reason any of us exist at all is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever:

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).

Christ says we are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Christy and I have realized that it is very difficult to disciple our children and teach them a Biblical worldview when they are away at school for seven hours a day.

What does the Bible say about discipleship and education? The testimony of Scripture on education and discipleship is clear: teach the truths of the word of God because wisdom and knowledge of all things begins with God.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
 fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

For the LORD gives wisdom;
 from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6).

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
 and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10).

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
 and do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge him,
 and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
 all those who practice it have a good understanding.
 His praise endures forever!” (Psalm 111:10)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).

that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments” (Colossians 2:2-4).

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:6-8).

For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’ So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:19-23).

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:13-18).

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 18:4-5).

Scripture is clear that wisdom begins with God and should be taught from His perspective, not a worldly one that ignores a Biblical worldview. This makes our role as parents clear: teach our children the whole counsel of God from the only reliable source of truth in existence—God’s Holy Bible. That means we will teach all subject areas—math, science, literature, history, etc. from a Biblical worldview. The Bible is also clear that this isn’t to be done just on Sundays at church or to try to squeeze it in between school, activities, and life. Our entire home and lives should be immersed in the Scriptures so its truth permeates all that we think and do.

Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6: 1-9).

All your children shall be taught by the LORD,
 and great shall be the peace of your children” (Isaiah 54:13).

A disciple is not above his teacher; but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Train up a child in the way he should go;
 even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

for as he calculates in his soul, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:2-3).

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).

he said to them, ‘Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess’” (Deuteronomy 32:46-47).

“’You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth’” (Deuteronomy 11:18-21).

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules” (Psalm 119:97-106).

My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way” (Proverbs 6:20-23).

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Timothy 4:7-13).

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).

Another testimony of Scripture on home schooling/home discipleship involves having a multigenerational vision. We aren’t going to homeschool for our kids’ sake only—we are thinking about a multigenerational legacy of our grandkids and great-grandkids being brought up to love the Lord with all their hearts, souls, and minds and being taught all subject areas from a Biblical worldview.

’And as for me, this is my covenant with them,’ says the LORD: ‘My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,’ says the LORD, ‘from this time forth and forevermore’” (Isaiah 59:21).

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob
 and appointed a law in Israel,
 which he commanded our fathers
 to teach to their children,
 that the next generation might know them,
 the children yet unborn,
 and arise and tell them to their children,
 so that they should set their hope in God
 and not forget the works of God,
 but keep his commandments;
 and that they should not be like their fathers,
 a stubborn and rebellious generation, 
 a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
 whose spirit was not faithful to God” (Psalm 78:1-8).

Tell your children of it,
 and let your children tell their children,
 and their children to another generation” (Joel 1:3).

Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children” (Deuteronomy 4:9).

This is an impressive testimony of Scripture of what our responsibility is to our children. We are so thankful to our Lord for speaking to us so clearly and for the desire and ability to home disciple our kids. We are doing this completely for His glory, not our own. We can’t wait to see what He has in store for us as we will rely completely on Him during this glorious adventure with our children as we educate them in His truth.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).


Micah James Lugg said...

Dave, my brother, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Often times when I hear arguments for homeschooling it is done very dogmatically and thus comes across as prideful (we are doing the biblical thing and you aren't). But I really appreciate your humble attitude in this post. You are clearly take this step in faith and believing that God would have you do it.

The key sentence for me was: "Christy and I have realized that it is very difficult to disciple our children and teach them a Biblical worldview when they are away at school for seven hours a day."

You didn't say that is impossible, but that it is difficult. I think your point there is a wise and important observation. You gave us insight into your discerning of the will of God for your family, without declaring that it is the will of God for everyone else.

Thanks again, brother. May our Lord Jesus Christ continue to lavish his grace on you.

daveliving4him said...

Thanks so much, Micah. I really appreciate your words of encouragement! We are so excited to get started and know it won't be easy, but will be for His glory! Peace and grace to you, brother!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

From a total stranger...

Well said.

I come from a family with a lot of educators. My husband and I decided to pull our kids out of public school when they were entering 5th, 3rd, and Kindergarten.

Our thinking went along very similar lines to what you have explained. God was working in our hearts, and brought people along our path that spoke wisdom to us (a la Voddie Baucham).

How could we truly disciple our boys in between school, soccer, and daily life? Ahhh... it is daily life :0)

We have our ups and downs. It certainly hasn't all been a bed of roses. It's just plain hard work. But that's okay. It's worth it.

We're entering our third year of homeschooling (still beginners) and I haven't regretted the decision for a minute. The longer we homeschool the more reasons we discover to continue.

God be with you,


daveliving4him said...

Julie, thank you so much for your comment. Yes, Voddie Baucham had a major impact in teaching us as well! His book Family Driven Faith opened our eyes to our responsibilities as parents taught in Scripture.

I agree with you that discipleship is "daily life." I learned recently that the Greek translation of the Great Commission is "as you are going, make disciples of all nations..." In other words, it should be part of our daily lives, not something we do when we make time for "ministry work."

Thanks again. You have been a great encouragement to Christy and me. May God bless you and your family as you continue seeking God's glory in educating your kids at home. Soli Deo Gloria!