What I Did This Summer 2
How To Get The Vision
Summer time for homeschooling parents can be like a Saturday morning. Throughout the week we are busy with our scheduled events, being purposeful in all that we do so we can make our time count. Then Saturday comes. We begin Saturday by staying up late on Friday night. Sleeping in an extra hour or two sounds good, causing us to leave the alarm unset. Ironically, rising later actually motivates us to move even slower rather than faster. The next thing we know it’s noon and we really haven’t done much that’s edifying or beneficial. We have a sick, unfulfilled feeling in our spirit but we rationalize it with the thought, “It’s okay; after all, it’s Saturday.”
More than one business guru has commented that what we do with our Saturdays often defines our level of success. It represents one-sixth of the entire work week. (Interestingly too, God said, “Six days shalt thou work…” not five.) Having said that, some successful people will not answer any emails on Saturday. Instead, they use it as a time to think outside of the parameters of the immediate day-to-day demands and peer at the bigger picture of life. This in turns helps them to decide on their day-to-day activities during the next week. What’s true for Saturdays is also true for summer.
Most individuals sense the importance of having a vision but it’s the actual nuts and bolts of the thing with which they get bogged down. Their goal is to find an answer to the all-important question of “How do I get a vision?” In response, I can’t give step one, two, three because this would be a simplistic and generic approach to a highly individualized process. Instead of using the word “steps,” I choose to employ the word “ingredients” because, much like a recipe, there are similar ingredients in gaining a vision but how they are mixed together reflects the personalization of the journey.
The first ingredient in obtaining vision is to be proactive. Many Christians want to wait upon the Mount of Transfiguration for Divine intervention to explain to them all the questions of life. While God does have the ability to “write it across the sky,” for most of us non-Moses types, it is usually found in relationship with the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and the doing of life. He has different callings and giftings that He imparts to each of us in order to fulfill His purpose in our lives. Our job is to find out that purpose and to do it with all our might. In regards to homeschooling, we have the same assignment, only with our children instead.
Vision takes work. It demands that we take intentional time in prayer, in diligent search, in reflection, in application, all coupled with brutal honesty about how we see life. My wife and I usually walk half an hour back and forth on the quarter mile of paved road that runs by our country home in the morning at sunrise or after the children go to bed late at night. What is our main purpose during this time? Vision. We talk about what is going on in our family—both corporately and individually—and what we need to do to address it. Some may accuse us of being too serious and that we should simply go with the flow. Our observation has taught us that those who go with the flow often see their children swept away by the current of the culture. We must take responsibility and be proactive in pursuit of vision.
Secondly, we need to ask questions and answer them as honestly as we can, understanding that real answers are not what come from our mouth but are evidenced by our daily actions. Here are some sample questions specifically tailored for homeschooling parents:
- Where do I want to see my children five years from now spiritually, emotionally, educationally, physically, etc.?
- What character traits do I want to see them embody?
- What character flaws need to be addressed?
- What aptitudes are they demonstrating and how could God use those for His Glory?
- What gifts from God are they presently exhibiting?
- Are they demonstrating age-appropriate expressions of the fruit of the Spirit and if not, why?
- What kind of atmosphere do we want in our home?
- How do we expect our children to handle conflict resolution within the home as well as without?
- How are our children’s people skills? Are they good to engage all ages or are they overly withdrawn?
It is ideal if spouses can talk with each other concerning these questions as it lends to a greater sense of precision. If you are single mother—or feel like you’re homeschooling your children on your own—perhaps you could find an older homeschool woman with whom you can bounce a few things off of. Regardless of your present lot in life, the time and energy you pour into answering these questions will reap a harvest of family vision.
A third ingredient is to listen to the visions of others, realizing your goal is not to imitate but rather to borrow. There is a big difference between the two. The former wants an easy out while the latter is about enlarging your perspective to the point it really stretches you. We should, however, be careful from whom we borrow. One priority I personally look for is “fruit that remains.” In other words, I want to see what their children are like. Are they balanced in their approach to life? Do they have godly character? Do they have the fruit of the Spirit respectful to their present age? This is not to judge their children but to understand that there are different expressions and levels of God’s grace on parents. I want to talk to people who are better parents than I am so I can learn from them.
The glorious thing about the information age is that we are not limited to the experiences of those who are our contemporaries. There is a plethora of books written by godly men and women of old which allows us precious insights into their personal lives and these books are easily found through the Internet. Men such as Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards give us timeless insights that can help shape our present parental worldview. There are also YouTube clips and webinars that put us in touch with those who are leading the home discipleship movement. In reading and listening to all these resources, I have not experienced an immediate epiphany but rather a gradual assimilation. As Proverbs says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise…” and “as a man thinketh, so is he.”
The temptation is to think that we have to establish some lengthy and elaborate vision, else we are wasting our time. Not so. As Zechariah 4:10 reminds us, “For who has despised the day of small things?” Christ gave the example of the minute mustard seed which, given time and His grace, grows into a large tree that gives safety and harbor to the birds of the field. Similarly, our small efforts in starting to gain a vision will ultimately grow, through the same time and grace, into a mechanism that will be a great support to our child’s home discipleship journey.
Executive Director, ICHE