.I sat across from her at the picnic table in the city park.
We will call her Mary.
“The expectations were so high.” she sighed.
Mary’s parents were leaders in the pioneer homeschool movement.
But she wasn’t talking about academics expectations.
Like me, she was a first generation homeschooler. She is older than me, so her parents faced even more challenges in their homeschool journey than my family did.
We compared notes, and then Mary said something that made me really stop and think.
“They expected us to change the world.” She said referring to her parents and her homeschooled friend’s parents.
“They thought we would be movers and shakers because we were homeschooled –that we would make a difference in a way that no other generation had. Not only was that a huge responsibility to place on a bunch of kids and teenagers, but it makes everything we do now seem like it’s a failure unless we’re changing the world.”
I identified with her sentiment.
Although my parents didn’t subscribe to this idea, many families in our homeschool community did, and I was inadvertently influenced by it. It was quite prevalent back when I was young.
I too thought we were going to change the world.
“Furthermore,” she said, “a lot of us were taught that God commanded our parents to homeschool so that we would go change the world. Then we woke up one day to find ourselves librarians, plumbers, teachers, and waitresses –just like everyone else. No matter what we do it seems like not enough, because we aren’t making that big of an impact on the culture and society –at least not like we were expected to, not like we were taught we were supposed to.”
A lot of what she was taught is wrong.
The Bible is very silent on the issue of formal education –especially in the parts of the Bible that apply to today in the Age of Grace; scripture doesn’t command one method of education over another.
Much of what I heard about us changing the world was part of an erroneous doctrine which teaches that Jesus will come back once Christians make the world a better place (one version of postmillennialism that was popular among local homeschool families).
Also, the idea that somehow we are supposed to make our country more Christiany so we have a better, safer place to live is contrary to clear teaching in scripture which says –not that we should make this world more comfortable for ourselves– but that we are going to be persecuted if we stand for Christ.
So, why do I bring this up?
But, I’m also willing to be honest about what we did wrong.
There’s basically only one generation of homeschool graduates so far. I don’t know of any former homeschool graduates who have also graduated their own homeschoolers –although it’s possible for those who started homeschooling earlier that my parents did.
Let’s try to not repeat their mistakes.
If you’re a Christian homeschool parent, don’t teach your children that their lives only have value if it impacts the whole, entire world.
Have you ever heard that story about the guy on the seaside who is tossing beached starfish back into the water one by one? He was asked why he was doing it when it really wouldn’t make a dent in the problem. His reply is that it matters to the ones he tosses back.
Our children need to know that there’s no job too small to do for Jesus.
There’s no shame in a small menial task that’s done for God. We should be doing everything for God.
Even if your job is pumping sewage, be the best sewage pumper out there.
Even if your job is [insert undesirable job here], do your best as unto the Lord.
He calls us to be faithful in the small things.
What we are called to do is live lives that make others ask why we have hope.
That can be done in any job –not just world-changing careers and ministries.
God may not have world-changing jobs in mind our children.
We need to surrender our children to God’s plans for them and not force our own plan on them.
We might not be able to change the whole world, but we can influence one life at a time for Jesus.
Just like the man throwing the starfish into the ocean, our testimony matters to the person who is pointed to God by our lives, to the person who is influenced by our witness.
Don’t make the mistake of the former generation.
Don’t communicate to your children that their lives are only fulfilling their potential if they are making a huge impact on the nation or the world.
Don’t burden your children with the lie that they’re only doing valuable work if that work is having a nationwide –or even worldwide– impact.
Teach them to brighten the corner where God put them and to be content to shine where He needs them.
No matter where He puts them.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6