What I Did This Summer Part 8
Methodology matters. Consider 2 Peter 1:5-7:
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.—2 Peter 1:5-7 (NKJV)
Peter lays the foundation…faith. Anything of substance must start with faith in God alone. Next, this faith isn’t to be some type of esoteric faith that flitters about aimlessly in the spiritual realm but one that produces virtuous attitudes and actions in the lives of those professing to have it. In other words, genuine faith produces fruit that remains. These two factors set the stage for everything else to come. They cannot be skipped or picked up later on at a more convenient time. They are the bedrock off of which the superstructure is built and comes into plain view.
Similarly, the ICHE principles of home discipleship are ordered with purpose to this point. It is to be 1) father directed, 2) multi-generational in scope and 3) focused on character. Once these dynamics are in place, it allows the proper groundwork for the pursuit of academic excellence, which is our fourth principle.
The next objective of Christian home discipleship is to instill in each child a knowledge of God and of His intervention in time and space. This requires academic instruction in every subject to proceed from and to be encompassed within a thoroughly Christian worldview, aspiring to the highest academic standards within our grasp and within each child’s God-given capability.
Our children need to know that God created the heavens and the earth (biological and physical science). He set an order to His creation (mathematics). He gave laws to His chosen people so that they would know how to function as a group (social studies). He communicated all this information to us in a book (language/reading/writing). In order to know God better, it is therefore necessary for us to seek to know more about Him, not only through His Word but also through the world that He sculpted.
Some Christians have an unbiblical dichotomy when it comes to academics. They have an “either/or” approach to knowledge rather than “both/and”. While I most definitely believe in Sola Scriptura and the fear of the Lord gives knowledge, the Bible also talks about how nature itself testifies of Christ (Romans 1). As a matter of fact, nature gives such clear evidence to the reality of Christ that natural revelation alone will call each of us into accountability (Romans 1:19,20). It only makes sense then that the more we understand the world around us and the principles which govern it, the more we will understand the goodness of God. Thus, we pursue academic excellence.
As homeschooling parents, we should make the needed sacrifices in time, energy and resources to see that our children get a quality education. The information age renders any failure to obtain effective curriculum excuseless. If you are new to homeschooling, there are courses that will instruct you in jot and tittle on how to teach your child, giving much relief to your anxiety level. On the other hand, if you are experienced or enjoy setting more of your child’s course of study, there are options that allow independent adventures under the umbrella of organization.
We should, however, exercise discernment in picking out curriculum, understanding that all curriculums are not created equally in regards to biblical content. Due to the increased popularity of homeschooling, curriculum sales have become a big business and many secular companies, who are governed more by the dollar than the Word, seek to cash in on it. I have been grieved on more than one occasion when I looked through a curriculum which was labeled “Christian” but its content was clearly secular, notwithstanding a few Bible verses thrown in to make it spiritually palatable. (This is another reason to come to the ICHE Annual Convention as our vendor hall personnel seek to strain out non-biblical curriculum as much as is possible.)
The goal for academic excellence is not to pass a college entrance exam to some elite school or to establish bragging rights about our achievement test scores, but rather we are instructed that in all things we are to glorify God, to give Him our absolute best so that we may know Him better. This includes the classroom.
While we want to be sensitive to age appropriateness and personal giftings and abilities, we should expect excellence as the norm from our children. If this pursuit of quality is injected and received into their lives at a young age, it will serve them and the kingdom well for years to come. Excellence is not so much something we do as much as it is a mindset. Actions flow from perspective.
One word of caution though. Curriculum/academia is a fine servant but a terrible master. More than one frazzled parent has crossed my path because they couldn’t keep up the exhaustive pace that their books demanded and were considering quitting. Their homeschooling existence was miserable for teacher and student alike because of all the paper work. While learning is a discipline, it is also to be joyful. Far too many homeschoolers are jumping through hoops because they are living out of fear of test scores, societal pressures and insecurity of the future instead of walking by faith in the living God. This is getting the cart before the horse. Faith and virtue must precede knowledge. Hebrews 11:6 goes even further by saying without faith it is impossible to please God and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. These rewards are not limited to the spiritual realm but flow into the educative realm as well.
Colossians 3:23 reminds us, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” Home discipleship is not an excuse for shoddy academic work but should be seen as a God-given imperative. For young men, it is one of the keys to future success, not only in business but especially in the home. For young ladies who aspire to the high calling of mother, what greater motivation do you need than the knowledge that you will one day be instructing your son(s) and daughter(s) who will carry on your legacy.
The pursuit of academic excellence is a must.
Executive Director, ICHE