August 19, 2010

Don't Operate on Automatic Pilot

As you may know, I educate my daughters at home and am a strong advocate for homeschooling because I know it works. However, I was also a public school teacher for nine years, during which I viewed my job as my mission field and saw many benefits to me being there as a Christian. And I have respect for quality private schools, too.

Each educational setting has its pros and cons, and biblical arguments can be made in support of all three alternatives. But it's not my place to try convincing a fellow believer toward one path or another. In fact, I’m a strong proponent of each parent's right – and responsibility – to make that decision for her own child according to God’s call on each particular family.

I am concerned, though, with those who “choose” by default, perhaps in a scenario something like one of these:

  • Susie says, “My four kids will be attending XYZ Private School, starting with Joey in kindergarten this year. Why? Well, my husband and I both went there, and my parents, and even my one grandma. I don’t know the current mission or curriculum – in fact, from the few things I remember, I don’t know how much their teachings match my faith convictions now. But…well, my parents would ‘disown’ me if we didn’t send all the kids there.”
  • Then there’s Jackie: “Yeah, I’m pulling Jimmy, Max, and Katie out of public school this week, and we’re going to homeschool. I’m not really sure what the state law says about it, and I have no idea what I’ll teach or how. My husband is leery about it, too. But all the ladies in my Bible study do it…and, well, I got to feeling guilty for not. So I guess we’ll just wing it and, um, trust God to work it out!”
  • And how about Carol: “School? Well, of course, we send them to the public schools – Adam at the high school and Maggie now in fifth grade. Is there any other viable option? I mean, both schools are right down the street so they can walk, and they have good test scores, I guess. At least that’s what the realtor said when we bought this house, and that’s what it’s all about. Spiritually…well, they’re fine. They go to youth group – most of the time. The church covers that for us.”

However, choosing a school for your child based on what your extended family would prefer, what your friends do, or on location and perceived “academic excellence” falls short, I believe, of how God would have us look at things. In fact, whatever each family’s ultimate choice, we have to make a conscious decision based on fully examining the options, seeking godly counsel, and asking the Lord for clear guidance and wisdom. Too often, though, parents operate on “automatic pilot” rather than taking the time and effort to really think things through. And that is, in my opinion, a mistake that could have serious negative repercussions.

I have no idea what call God has on you in terms of your child’s education. But I do know that in Deuteronomy 6.6-9, He clearly states that God-fearing parents are responsible before Him to train up their children in a godly manner. Which means we can’t cop-out and say we’ve chosen by default – and we have to include a child’s spiritual well being along with all the variables. I also know that God promises to reveal His will to those who pray earnestly and to provide in every way for whatever He calls us to do.

And so I encourage you – before this school year gets going – to be sure you’ve sought the Lord in regards to the schooling you have in mind for your child. You should choose the option best suited to each child in every aspect of who s/he is – academically, emotionally, socially, physically, and spiritually. Disregard what’s “best” for “all kids” or someone else’s kids; choose what’s best for the particular child God has given you. You also don’t have to wait for the beginning or end of a school year or semester to make a change. If you realize your child is not in the best setting or that the Lord is calling you to something different, you can make a change at any time.


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