What I Did This Summer Part 6
A Multi-generational Vision
It was by no means a summer vacation on a plush cruise ship as over 100 Pilgrims crowded on board the Mayflower for the unknown shores of America. What was their motivation for making such a dangerous trip with no guarantee of survival? Treasure chests full of gold? No. To become land barons? Obviously not. It was their growing concern over the seductive and invasive influence of the secular Holland culture that was beginning to manifest in the lives of their children. What would be the spiritual condition of their progeny in three or four more generations if a change in course were not implemented? In faith, they departed for America.
Many modern day parents can well identify with the spiritual plight and difficulty of raising godly children in an ungodly culture; thousands have made a similar decision to leave the safety and culturally acceptable shores of public school to the demanding, sacrificial and counter cultural lifestyle of home discipleship in hopes of positively affecting the spiritual health, not only of their children, but also of children they will never see.
This multi-generational focus is evident in Psalms 78:
For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments;--Psalms 78:3-5 (NKJV)
The charge to four different generations in this passage is to teach the Holy Scriptures so “that the generation to come might know” the will and way of God. The goal for us as parents, therefore, is not to simply raise good children, as that is only monocultural in scope and can easily slide into parental pride. Instead, our highest ambition is to raise good parents! We are to teach our children well, so that they are able to teach their children so that they in turn can teach their children to teach their children. The hope is that every subsequent generation will build upon the shoulders of the previous generation so the family line will become increasingly like Christ. When asked what it was like to be the Father of America, George Washington conferred that honor instead to the Mather’s, Richard, Increase and Cotton. He said if it hadn’t been for these three generations of pastors fanning the flame of liberty, there very well might not have been an America. This is what a multigenerational vision can produce. Understanding God’s grace is a given, what responsibility lies with us parents to create a multigenerational vision?
Firstly, we must be intentional. The question is not, “Will we teach our children?” but rather “What will we teach our children?” Because they are with us everyday, they will pick up on the good, the bad and the ugly, whichever we portray most readily. The values we wish to transfer are the values we must embrace ourselves. Duplicity is not an option; it can provoke our children to wrath as quickly as anything else we do.
Secondly, just as the Pilgrims were willing to lay down their lives so that future generations could worship in freedom and total adherence to the gospel, so we too have to lay down our selfish inclinations in order to take the road less traveled. Look at any social networking site on the internet and you will see endless comments by mothers who are so “distraught” at having to send their children back to public school. I want to talk into the monitor and exclaim, “Then teach them at home where you can be with them every day!” You and I both know, however, they have absolutely no thought of doing this because it would clash with their lifestyle of going out to eat, shopping or hanging out with their girlfriends. This kind of brutal honesty doesn’t play well with a self-absorbed society.
Creating a multigenerational vision is such hard work that most choose to forego the challenge even though the reward of the eternal well being of our lineage is at stake. In all honesty, I understand this because I am constantly brought up against my own selfishness and believe me when I say, it is an ugly likeness. If we’re up most of the night with a sick child, it never seems to fail that the other children conspire against us by getting up extra early the next morning. If we happen to have a rare Dad and Mom night out lined up, something unexpected happens outside of our control that demolishes our plans. During these times I try to remember that home discipleship is less about the education of the individual child and more about the sanctification of the entire family. Yes, that includes me.
Thirdly, our vision has to be properly communicated. After crossing the Jordan in the same manner as Moses crossing the Red Sea, Joshua instructed one man from each tribe to set up a stone as a memorial. Why?
“that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord.”—Joshua 4:6,7
It wasn’t enough to just place the rocks in a moment of celebratory euphoria; there had to be context so that the generations to come would understand “The Why.” This is the reason we must continually speak and model to our children, “This is why we do what we do and we expect you to teach your children the same thing. It is to never end.” We should cast this vision when we sit in our house, walk throughout the day, lie down and rise up.
One of the glories of a multigenerational vision is that parents are never put out to pasture. In far too many families, parents make little true investment in their children’s lives during those critical early years by first sending them to a day care and then to public school thereafter. It shouldn’t surprise us when many of these same children return the favor to their aging parents by putting them into nursing homes or retirement communities so their own lifestyles won’t be interrupted. Whatever we sow, so shall we reap. For those of you who are intentional and sacrificial in creating a multigenerational vision, imagine Thanksgiving Day when three and perhaps four generations sit around you at the dinner table with much respect and like-mindedness. Because you were faithful in embracing the generations which came behind you, they will honor the gray head that preceded them.
Whenever the homeschool community is accused of sheltering their children, I give an unapologetic, “You bet we are!” Why? A vision that outlives us by ten generations is worth protecting. Because a group of godly Pilgrims chose a journey of difficulty rather than a trip of ease and comfort, we have the America we have today. This makes me wonder what will happen in, to and through our progeny if we make a similar decision?
Executive Director, ICHE