Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Show, Don't Tell

I have always maintained (and still do) that my decision to home school is separate from raising my children in the Christian faith.

Being a believer in Jesus and a devoted follower of His is who I am.

Home schooling is a method of educating my children outside of traditional institutional education offered by society, both public and private. Home school is one of the things I do.

If I were to choose institutional education for my children, or they were to choose it for themselves when they were older, I would still be a Christian. That would not change. I would still be that "living epistle known by all men", especially my family who has no choice but to read me every single day.

I am not leading my children *to Christ*. The Holy Spirit draws all men to the Lord. I am living out my Christian life in front of them.

I am not discipling my children *for Christ*. They are disciples of Jesus, and He is responsible for their discipleship. I am merely one (albeit extremely influential one-they live with me for the first eighteen or so years of their lives) fellow disciple who will share the faith walk with them in the course of their lives.

I am their sister in Christ, responsible to love them, encourage them, exhort them, pray for them, laugh with them, cry with them and always point to Jesus. He is the Good Shepherd. I'm just an older sheep.

Here is a list of things that would not change, even if we did not home school:

*I would still pray with my children every night together as a family. I pray on my own many times during a typical day, personally. Since they are home they see it more than they would if they were at school, but they would still see me pray daily. It's unavoidable.

*I would still read to them at night (sometimes devotional literature, but always good, uplifting stories like the Redwall series, Chronicles of Narnia, pretty much any Newberry Award book, etc.) Now that they are teens we are doing more theology stuff. Currently we are reading The Myth of a Christian Religion by Gregory A. Boyd.

*I would still talk to them all the time about what was going on in my life spiritually. I do that to anyone in my sphere of influence. =)

*I would still be excited when they share with me what is going on in their spiritual lives.

*I would still be diligent to keep our relationship on solid ground so that they would trust me enough to share what's on their hearts! (That is trickier than you might think. A parent must tread very carefully here.)

*I would still volunteer at church and in the community, make meals for people facing surgeries or new babies, sponsor a child through World Vision, and generally respond to needs that arise in my world with as much compassion and generosity as ever. Growing up they accompanied me because they had no choice. Now they do have a choice and often (not always) they choose to come with me.

Because I live this way, I find it completely unnecessary to have religion in every subject of my home school. Can you say "overkill" boys and girls?

I love writing fiction, and one inescapable truism of good writing is "Show, don't Tell".

I think that is also a great rule to follow for Christian parents. Show by the way YOU live, oh parent, what it means to follow Jesus. Don't continually tell, tell, tell what others should do/not do.

That's what the Christian curriculum is, a constant tell, tell, tell. We don't need that here. We have the real thing in living color showing every day what a Christian life looks, feels and tastes like. Mmmmmm.

And for the record, yes I know Christian parents who send their children to public school and do all the things at home that I do. Their children are doing about the same as mine, which is thriving. They are good students who have goals and dreams and live clean lives.

They are conscious of God and love Him, but they are not sanctimonious or super-spiritual. They have lots of friends, and their friends all know the teens and the family are Christians. Sometimes some of them ask about their faith and they are happy to talk with them. Sometimes some of their friends will come to church with the family.

They are normal Christian teens, which means that sometimes they feel lazy. Sometimes they are snippy or rude to others. Sometimes they don't eat right, or keep their rooms clean. They even make some pretty bad decisions on occasion, but the Holy Spirit is with them to redeem them from the bad and teach them some good from the harsh realities of bad choices.

Teens from both families sometimes exasperate their parents, but we the parents still love and accept them. They like music we don't like, watch movies we would never pick, and even say things that would embarrass us if they said them in front of the neighbors. Sometimes we even learn from these teens of ours, who are exploring the world outside and translating for us when they get home. It's an adventure, that's for sure.

In short, they are redeemed lambs of God, who are called holy and blameless in His sight. Keep that in mind, parents of Christian teens! They are not called to perfection, they are just called to Jesus.


  1. "I am not discipling my children *for Christ*. They are disciples of Jesus, and He is responsible for their discipleship. I am merely one (albeit extremely influential one-they live with me for the first eighteen or so years of their lives) fellow disciple who will share the faith walk with them in the course of their lives."

    I like what you've said here. "Discipling" and "being discipled" (and the like) are terms that have always given me a bit of the heebie-jeebies. In the context that most of the church community uses them, they almost come off as coercive - like an effort to make me like their own personal vision of Christ, with the persona of Christ in their own mind being the only standard.

    You're right that only Christ can "disciple" anyone. All we can do is point to Him. We can teach, encourage, and exhort, but to move beyond those gets into indoctrination - which I have a boatload of concerns about.

    Ultimately, if I have an influence on someone in my life, I hope it's to make them think and seek out the truth on their own, not just accepting the things I say because I've said them, not relying on my faith at the expense of their own.

    I appreciate the stuff you've been writing. Please keep it coming.

  2. Thank you, Lewis. =)

    I had so much to say to you in response, that I have started my next blog post. But as I have a busy day, I won't be able to finish it until later today, or maybe even tomorrow.

    Children are clearly capable of being led by the Holy Spirit, as we are to become as little children in order to enter the kingdom of God.

    I first told my daughter that beside my being her mother, I was also her sister in Christ very shortly after she started on her own faith journey. I have been mindful of the many hats I wear (roles in life) and try to put on the right hat for the right occasion.

    It can be tricky.

  3. "beside my being her mother, I was also her sister in Christ" should be in quotations. Gtg. Buh-bye.

  4. This post is like a breath of fresh air! Go Shadowspring!

    Btw, Lewis, do you have a blog / website? I always appreciate your comments here and at my own. Thank you.

  5. Hillary...I don't have a public blog, but I may start one in the near future. If and when I do, I'll email a link to you.

  6. wonderful words of truth here in this post. amen to it! Thank you for encouraging others to look to the Lord and not make parenting an idolatry that leads to controlling our children in order to make ourselves look good as parents. I love what you said in your first few paragraphs about homeschooling. I too homeschool but that is not apart of my christianity, or relationship with the Lord, that is my choice of education (at this point) as I've prayed and asked the Holy Spirit for guidance. Thanks for these words here.

    a. ann

  7. Love Pastor Boyd's writings and teachings. He is probably responsible for challenging me to understand what the Kingdom really is (and what it is not), which set me on my current path away from the moralism I had been raised in. This often causes others to accuse me of being a "liberal" - LOL - but that's okay.