A Christ-Centered Home
by Tamara Eaton
There are so many books on Christian parenting and homeschooling available now and more are being published every month, often with conflicting opinions and advice. I like the older Christian parenting books--especially those written years ago by conservative Christians who reared a large family and whose children turned out well. These books not only stressed Biblical child training principles, but encouraged parents to seek the Lord for wisdom and direction--a key ingredient in successful parenting and homeschooling! A good homeschooling book will do the same and not adamantly declare that there is only one way to achieve homeschooling success--by following their program or method.
The thought occurred to me that perhaps there is a similarity between the tendency for some parents to rely too heavily upon a program for rearing their families (instead of the father taking charge of his home and together, with the mother, seeking God for wisdom from His Word and in prayer), and the "one size fits all" educational program presented in most public (and even private) schools, and the churches that have so many programs no one even notices if the Holy Spirit doesn't show up.
Are we being conditioned by our society to rely more upon "The Experts" instead of paying the cost ourselves to seek the Lord, study His Word, and be led by His Holy Spirit? Not that we can't learn from other godly Christians, this is a valid Biblical method, but it shouldn't ever be a substitute for the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Programs can even be helpful and sometimes traditional teaching methods work well for a family. The point is, we should seek God for what will be best for our own family. The Lord wants us to be dependent upon Him alone (not a method or program), and everything we hear or see should be "filtered" through Him and His Word!
I'm surprised at some of the generalizations I see being made by so many authors of parenting books, and sometimes homeschooling books. As one who was homeschooling back in the years when it was difficult to even find curriculum publishers who would sell to individuals, it saddens me to see divisions and "cliques" developing in the "Christian" homeschooling community, too. Some seem to think that all Christian parents can be neatly divided into two sides, and one is following God's Will and one is not. (Depending on what particular program, curriculum or method they recommend!) There seems to be, in some cases, a lack of respect for anyone who doesn't agree with their "side" and the inference that they couldn't possibly be following Biblical child-training or educational principles.
One of the best books I've ever read on Christian parenting is How To Rear a Happy Christian Family by Charles Farah, published over 40 years ago by Moody Press. Mr. Farah and his wife had seven grown children, all of whom were involved in ministry, when he wrote this book. His purpose in writing was to encourage Christian parents to depend upon God's Word and the wisdom and direction of His Holy Spirit instead of the popular psychology and "pagan philosophy" prevalent even in those days. He said in the preface: "I maintain that the immutable Word of God is sufficient for every circumstance, for every age, and for each individual, family, and nation. Books of human origin are subject to constant revision." (But not the Word of God! Praise the Lord!)
He stressed the need to seek the LORD for wisdom with each individual child. It reminded me of a quote from Trumball's Hints on Child-Training (first published 100 years ago and now available again) which said: "A little babe is not a mere bit of child-material, to be worked up by outside efforts and influences into a child-reality; but he is already a living organism, with all the possibilities of his highest manhood working within him toward his independent development."
The more children I have, the more I realize the truth of this. Yes, we have standard household rules which apply to all, but in the teaching, training and discipline, we must diligently seek the Lord in how best to rear and educate each child--so that our sons and daughters would reach their full potential and glorify Him! We don't have a list of "do's and don'ts" to refer to anytime a child whimpers, or has a need. Instead, we seek to be discerning and use godly wisdom. We trust in Him to help us train our children up in the way they should go so that when they are old, they shall not depart from it.
So perhaps we can all strive to encourage each other in this common goal-- training our children up in the way they should go (the Lord's Way!) without casting judgments based upon whether we follow a certain program or method of homeschooling --whether we use textbooks, unit studies or other resources in a formal or relaxed style. Instead, let each family seek wisdom and discernment from the Lord! He will never fail!
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-8)
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith..." (James 1:5-6)
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)
In closing, I'd like to share part of a prayer from How to Raise Your Children to Christ-- by Andrew Murray (1828-1917), may this be all of our hearts' cry!
"Blessed God, give me wisdom and grace to be a teacher of my children as Thou wouldst have. Thou sufferest not any other to usurp the parent's place; Thou hast appointed him the first and highest teacher. Lord, teach me, with all parents, to take home the lessons which Thou seest we need to fit us for our work.
Fill our hearts with Thy love and Thy word. Love knows no sacrifice, it counts nothing a burden; love rests not till it has triumphed. Oh, fill us with Thy love; shed it abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. And fill us with Thy word, that teaching our children will be the spontaneous overflowing of the heart. Make us diligent and wise to do our work well. Sharpen Thy words deep into our children's hearts, too. And make us persevering all the day, walking in Thy love and presence. Make our whole life an influence, educating our children for Thee."
-Andrew Murray (1828-1917)
© Copyright Tamara Eaton 1994-2000, all rights reserved.
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"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."