When traditionally structured academics begin to choke out the freedom of pursuing the unique needs and interests of their children, parents need to reassess the daily workload in the light of the eternal and create goals that cooperate with God’s own plans for His kingdom.
The issue at stake in our pursuit of academic goals at home is prioritization. How does one prioritize the completing of the scheduled academic work and pursue spiritual goals at the same time?
Eternal goals force the prioritization of temporal goals
The battle we wage is based on how we view reality. “So we fix our eyes not on what is see, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18, NIV)
Without thinking, we see reality with natural eyes and accept as priorities only that which contributes to the natural world. Such a view will miss the eternal. Whenever we fix our eyes on the temporal, we introduce futility and foolishness (Rom. 1:21-22). The result of that futility is frustration and conflict between the expectations of the natural and the eternal. Thus, a parent that teaches academic material and divorces that instruction from the eternal world view will find himself caught between these competing perspectives.
In other words, the motives of earthly pursuits originates from one’s view of what is really important—the seen or the unseen. Since the unseen is eternal, we must submit our pursuit of that which is seen to it. As Christ reminded Martha, “…only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:42, MV). We must seek first the kingdom of heaven in order to achieve balance—the Lord will add the temporal things if we pursue the eternal.
Achieving balance by the Spirit
How do you keep a balance between completing the scheduled academics for the day and meeting spiritual goals? First, keep in mind the real goal itself. Second, be alive in the Holy Spirit. That allows us to keep God’s goals ever present in our lives. The prompting of the Holy Spirit will move you to the goal of God, but we have to understand a very important principle here. We have to be in tune spiritually because goals that men have are naturally perceived, but goals that God has are spiritually perceived. Man cannot imagine the things that God sees in getting His goals accomplished. (I Cor. 2:6-16)
James wrote, “Brothers, don’t say, ‘We’re going to go to such and such a city and by and sell and we’re going to make a profit and then come back.’ Don’t have that kind of plan. No! Say, ‘if the Lord wills, we are expecting this and will do that.’” That is how we turn it to the Lord and learn to respond to His own direction. It is a spiritual process. If you want to put a value on it, it is probably the most important spiritual process that you and your children can learn. And it is probably the least used spiritual apparatus. Christians seldom walk in or after the Spirit (Rom. 8:1-11).
When you look at your day’s goals, how much importance you put them depends on Who you are really responding to and why. It may be that your goals need to be set aside.
Being a home schooling parent does not necessitate accepting the sole responsibility to be the only influence in my child’s life. Instead, it is taking the lead role, going before the Lord and entrusting to Him, all the details. We need to establish the value of certain things. How we get information is not as important as whether it is important to learn those kinds of things at all. If it is, then why is it important? Is our motivation based on its real importance?
God’s goals are discerned in our frustrations
God is busy conforming you to the image of Christ. God has a goal for you. He wants you to be like Jesus, He wants you to share His glory. On the other hand, you are busy completing every day routines. You want Math or English done, and you want it done now! This is your glory.
Now we have frustration! God and you are working on different goals.
The areas being conformed to Jesus are brought to focus through these frustrations. These are the places where you’re not like Christ that yet need to be conformed. Do you see how He points those out to you? Romans 8:20 says that He has subjected the creation to frustration, not by reason of the one who is frustrated, but by reason of Him who wants to transform us to His glory! God has one plan for your goals and that is, that at every turn, when you are off the mark of being conformed to the image of His Son, He is going to allow the product of your work to be frustrated. Even if you get the goal accomplished, even if you get your math done, you’re going to be frustrated when you are finished.
King Solomon best illustrates this. Here was the wisest man in the world with all the knowledge in the world holding all the riches in the world and the most frustrated man in the world. You can’t beat Solomon in anything, including his frustration. When we fix our eyes on the visible, everything is vanity—a chasing after the wind.
Write down your frustrations and examine all the details. Probe and think. At the bottom of the frustration pile, you’ll find sin. You’ll find rebellion. You will find your image and not Christ’s image. That’s the place of confession, repentance and the place where victory begins. That is the place where we surrender the world’s image and are conformed to Christ’s image, having our lives changed by the renewing of our minds.
Frustration becomes the place where God gives us goals, spiritual goals. He will also give us goals for our children. When you are frustrated with your child, you can identify his needs. You need no textbook to discover those needs.
God is going to change your world—through your frustrations.
Reorder your private world
After you discover these major goals you have to begin restructuring. When you find a goal that God has, you will find an improper goal that you have. And there you go. One more time, you have to cross the Jordan into the promised land. One more time you have to take that false goal and lay it aside (Heb. 12:1).
You have to restructure your life-style. You might think that it is important to take your child to dancing lessons until the Holy Spirit speaks: “Are you ever confused! That is not important at all.” New goals, new perspectives, new orientation. Next year should not be the same as this year. Even if this year was a good year in your eyes, next year should not be the same. Better than that, next month should not be the same as this month. And next week should not be the same as this week. You should have learned something. You should have plummeted again another depth. You should have moved another shadow closer to the image of Christ.
Restructuring your life around God’s goals will give you a sense of purpose. You will now see His importance in that English book. God will grant you wisdom where it is needed. You’ll discover it in the midst of a conversation because you are caring and praying and your heart is wrapped around your child and his need is focused in your eyes. You’ll discover that he could really use a little help with adverbs and adjectives. You will find that you have the spiritual energy to help him understand. You will believe that he has important things to say. You can give just a ten minute lesson, and the Holy Spirit can bring that lesson to you if you are walking in the Holy Spirit (Matt. 6:33).
To put it another way, don’t worry about what the pagans worry about; if you clamor for what the world clamors for, then there won’t be time for the Holy Spirit to add to you “the rest.” You are to seek His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you from the Lord. You won’t see it on the desert side of the Jordan, so you’ve got to walk over those places of faith commitment every day.
Take the step of faith
You may agree with every ideal presented here, but when you look at all those books, fear grips your heart and you easily turn back to Egypt (where at least they have teacher’s guides!) Maybe you better not risk failure in the Promised Land. Maybe slavery is better than curricular and family freedom.
Just say no! You must not be subject to temporal goals and gods that want to rule your home. You must take a step of faith and put away those false expectations. All steps of faith are difficult. These are things that are impossible to accomplish—without God’s help. You must trust God to help.
You cannot go into the Promised Land and take it over without understanding your own need for God’s help. But you must go! And you must cross that line and say with Caleb and Joshua “God can do it! He can beat the giants in the land. Who can stand before the Lord?”
You have to take the step of faith even though you can’t explain it. Could Joshua and Caleb define how they would tactically overthrow the land of giants? Could they explain the details of battle? No, they couldn’t. They simply said, “But God can.”
The pressure is there because the natural man wants something and my spiritual man wants something. There’s a contest—there’s a war. I have to fight that battle today. Will I be responsive today to the spiritual Head of my heart? Or will I succumb today and pull back into the ranks of bondage? Will I go with liberty or bondage? You have to take that step of faith, and, in a sense, throw caution to the wind.
When you really take a step of faith, you have nothing to assure that it will work. You will have no self-confidence at all. If you do, you’re not doing God’s work, you’re full of your own strength, your own confidence, and your own gifts. But your confidence won’t change a life. It won’t affect eternity at all.
So take that step of faith and follow after the eternal. Let that become the goal you adhere to with all other goals submissive to the eternal!