Our Greatest Strength . . . and Weakness
I was recently talking with a dear friend, a home schooling father, and he commented that home educators’ independent spirit was their greatest strength as well as their biggest weakness, a blessing and a curse. I smiled because of my experiences on both sides of the coin.
In this day of the entitlement mentality wherein everyone thinks he/she deserves something from the efforts of others, the home schooling community’s willingness to row their own boat and be responsible for their own families is admirable. Think of the hundreds of thousands of dollars we save both the state and national governments (a good thing to remember the next time you talk to your representative or senator.)
Similarly, we don’t spend our time looking around for someone else to blame when things go awry. We realize that we alone are responsible—able to respond—and so we roll up our sleeves and start doing something about the present challenge. A good example of this is a young man who farmed our ground in the past—who happened to have been home schooled himself. I’ve seen him get into all sorts of jams with his equipment, sometimes scarily so. Yet, he didn’t get excited; neither did he get upset; he didn’t get on the phone and start calling some local or state agency for help. Instead, he assessed the situation and began chewing it up a bite at a time.
It’s good for us to be independent from the government systems and all the world’s sub-cultures as well as the perverted thinking they spawn. Self-initiative and the emphasis on entrepreneurialism are growing almost exponentially in the home schooling ranks. When I hear of the successes of other home school children, I swell with pride as if they were my own children’s successes because in a very real way they are. These successes will help pave the way for future generations of home schoolers.
But this independence must be tempered into interdependence when it comes to other areas like networking within the home school community itself and church involvement. I’ve seen well-intending parents circle the wagons so tightly they keep everyone else out, even other like-minded Christians. Proverbs 18:1 clearly states that a man who isolates himself subtly becomes prey to his own desires because he lacks accountability and balance from others. Some would no doubt counter, “But it’s so much easier when you stay by yourself!” No argument here on that point. However, our Lord doesn’t call us to a life of ease but to fulfill all the “one another” commands in His Word. It’s hard to do this when the wagons are circled so tightly we can’t see out our own front curtains.
My heart and the heart of the ICHE Board is to come along side of households who embrace a Christ-centered vision. Additionally, we hope to see such a deep and wide network of like-minded home disciplers develop in Illinois—from north to south and east to west--that the political Mecca of this state will tremble when we show up to voice our concerns if they are opposed to our position.
This only happens when we choose to balance our independent spirit with interdependence. Like Nehemiah, we must hold a tool to supply the daily provision—spiritual, educational and financial—for our own family in the one hand but have a sword in the other so that we can run together with our brothers and sisters to fight those who would impose their agendas upon us and our families.
ICHE has several major events coming up and I want to invite you to join us. Legislative Days run from March 19th-21st. We don’t want to wait until our backs are against the wall and we cry out from a position of fear, weakness or negativity. Instead, we want to be proactive and bring a positive message to our officials in Springfield which communicates home schooling is a blessing to our state. These few days represent an annual attempt to lay a solid foundation off which we can build future platforms. While work schedules can be a genuine limitation for some, let’s not allow mere inconvenience to hinder those of us who do have some flexibility from taking an active part. If you can’t attend, at least consider sending a cherry pie with someone who is going to be present.
Another opportunity comes in June with our annual conference. I can’t communicate enough how this weekend has impacted our family’s life journey. Remember, it’s not just what is taught during these meetings but also the vision that is caught and the friendships that are made. Registration is now open. I hope you will commit early lest something urgent crowd out that which is most important.
It’s wonderful when our children mature from a stage of dependence to independence. But they need to learn that it’s those who unite in a spirit of interdependence who make deep cultural changes. May we be that example for them as their parents in this upcoming year.
Executive Director, ICHE