by Jeff Pisano
I once had a conversation with a woman who was passionate about homeschooling. She stated that she knew for sure this was what God had called her to do. Six months later, her children were back in public school and she had made great strides toward her career and degree. Sadly this is not an isolated instance; rather it is all too common in the Christian community as a whole, and within the subset of Christian home educators as well. Why the change?
I believe, at its core, that this struggle stems largely from our own personal desire for validation. In the particular case I mentioned, the woman chose to listen to the voice of the world and other people in order to find her sense of self-worth. In the worldly perspective, success is defined by a few criteria: how high up the corporate food chain one might be; the house, car, or toys one is able to afford–as though a Lexus makes one a better person than a Kia does; the paycheck one is able to pull in; the jumble of letters following one’s name; or the framed parchments hanging on the wall behind one’s desk. In the Christian community how often one is called on to speak or how many people visit one’s blog can also be measurements of how well one is doing.
Need for Affirmation
To be honest, we all have that need for affirmation. “Good Job!” is a far better motivator for us, and our children, than the opposite. “That was dumb.” Or “You’ll never amount to anything.” are more effective at killing the spirit than providing encouragement to try harder next time. The power that honest praise has with children is especially astounding.
In today’s world of instant everything, it is very easy to lose sight of the real goal as believers; our entire purpose is to worship our Creator and bring glory to His Name. In Matthew 25 we find a well-known passage: the parable of the talents. Please take a moment to read Matthew 25:14-30.
God desires us to be faithful to what He assigns us, and to do those things to the best of our ability. Admittedly, anything of true value that I attempt to do well needs to be done in the power of His Spirit. Without that empowering, I will most assuredly fall flat on my face. It is not a matter of if, but merely of when that fall will occur.
The true validation that we must seek is found in verses 21 and 23: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
My real validation comes from God, not the world; and it can be difficult to maintain that eternal perspective in the middle of life on a planet filled with people seeking instant gratification. The old saying, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” is actually incomplete. It should read, “He who dies with the most toys wins…nothing!”
Our success in this world is not based upon what others see, perceive to be important, or earthly standards of success. It is exclusively the right of our Heavenly Father to utter those words, “Well done!” The particular job, career, or area of ministry I am involved in is insignificant compared to the question, “Did I do it well?”
Colossians 3:23-24 states, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”
Don’t Fall Into the Trap
As homeschoolers we also can fall into the trap of judging our success by earthly standards: how well our children do financially, what careers they end up in, what grades they get, what degree they obtain after high school, or what college they managed to get into. I truly believe that the measure of my success as a homeschool dad is better gauged by the nature, solidity, and faithful walk with God that my children (prayerfully) display. Do I want them to be able to do well in life and to be able to provide for their families? Of course, I do; but of far more importance to me is the joy it brings to see them faithfully serving Christ. As the apostle John put it, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 1:4.
As difficult as it may be, at times, for us to keep that perspective, actually teaching it to our children is rather automatic. If our hearts truly seek Him and His Kingdom above all else; and if we walk in obedience that we might hear that “Well done,” then our children will learn by example. It is so much more effective to show them how to live for His good pleasure than it is to find the words to say it.
May He help us all to strive for those words, “Well done!”
CHEA Support Network award-winning article (Best Exhortation) from March 2016.
Jeff Pisano has been the director of Rancho Christian Academy since 2002. He and his wife Mary homeschooled both of their children over a 15 year period and now continue to support and encourage other homeschool families through RCA and their involvement with CHEA.