Missing the Mark:
"Socialization" vs. Fellowship & Ministry
by Tamara Eaton
Our definition of needed "socialization" for our children is
different from societal norms because we have a different standard --God's
Word. We see "socialization" as opportunities for fellowship
and/or ministry and not limited to peer groups. We believe that these skills
are best developed and nurtured from a place of strength and security in a
loving family, reaching out to others together--sharing Jesus with a lost and
dying world, edifying and encouraging our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
When parents ask us, "But what about socialization? Aren't you
concerned you're neglecting to give your children a chance to do things with
their peers in a traditional school environment?", we could easily ask
them, "But what about your family relationships? Aren't you
concerned you're neglecting to give your children enough opportunities to do
things with their family since they are separated for so many hours a
Even the "world" recognizes the need for children to have strong,
stable families, yet somehow our culture has elevated the importance of
peer relationships over family relationships--this ought not to be! Do our
children value their peer's opinions and influences over their parents? In
time of crisis, where do our children want to go? To the Lord and parents for
wisdom or to their peers?
Children have a need of acceptance--we pray that ours find their security
in being accepted and loved by the Lord and their family first, then from that
secure position, reach out to others and stand strong in their Biblical
convictions without being tempted to compromise in the face of persecution or
during encounters with peers or adults who don't share similar standards.
We strive to develop close relationships within our family from the time
our children are born, having a Christ-centered home, yielding to the
fruit of the Spirit instead of the flesh, making time to do things together:
praying, worshipping, learning, talking, laughing, listening, playing, loving
and really enjoying the time spent with them. We believe that our close family
relationships will continue through the teen years and beyond. With a house
full of teens and two younger children, we are actively teaching, training,
nurturing, and discipling daily--this has eternal significance thus we are
driven to the Lord daily for grace, wisdom and strength!
"And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and
with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command
thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently
unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou
risest up." (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)
While some limit homeschooling to their children's early years, we feel
that the high school years are an important time to homeschool. We have a
better opportunity to help our children with positive influences instead of
negative peer pressure. Our children naturally desire more independence at
this age; we can encourage their interests by allowing them to help choose
their studies and being open to their ideas. This is a time to seek God for
His wisdom and help in recognizing and developing these unique gifts and
callings--we don't want to impose our own ideas upon our children without
considering God's plan!
Our teens have had an opportunity to do volunteer work in the community, be
involved in ministry, own and operate their own businesses, teach and care for
younger children, do home-ec, auto repair, household maintenance, develop good
leadership and organizational skills along with creative thinking.
Above all else, in our home, we want to nurture and encourage them in
their walk with the Lord. In this time of adolescence and in their search
for their own "identity", we want them to find their identity in
HIM! They need to have a knowledge of the Word of God and know how to apply it
to their everyday lives. We don't believe that rebellion should be a part of a
teenager's life. We can trust the Lord that our children come to know Him and
yield themselves to Him with all their heart!
We, alone, are responsible for our children and must answer to the Lord
for how we bring them up, even if we delegate some of the teaching to
others. We're careful to investigate our children's friends, teachers,
coaches, etc. before we allow them to get involved with outside activities. We
make sure we adequately monitor their activities. Even homeschool support
group activities or church activities aren't immune from negative influences
at times. We protect them from harmful influences and situations.
If you're having a difficult time finding godly fellowship for your
family--pray for it! The Lord cares just as much about your family's emotional
needs as He does your other needs. He can be trusted to work out all the
details. Often He will use that time of waiting on Him to draw you even
closer, preparing you in His Word to minister more effectively to others, and
encouraging you to find your all sufficiency in Him!
We must be strong in our convictions based upon God's word and resist
the temptation to be apologetic or insecure when criticised by others for
being "overly protective" or "depriving" our children of
certain things--remembering that we must answer ultimately to the Lord, not
man. This doesn't mean that we should have an unhealthy desire to control
our children or cause them to have an unnatural dependence upon us--our goal
is to encourage them to develop a strong faith and confidence in the Lord and
His Word and discern His will for their lives and be obedient unto Him!
So will our children miss out on anything? Hopefully, they will--
drugs, alcohol, premarital sex, rebellion against God and parents, resentment
over helping out at home, ungodly dependence upon peers, embarrassment over
being seen with mom and dad in public--to name just a few things!
Is this "sheltering" detrimental to future ministry
opportunities? Will they still be able to demonstrate compassion to those
in the world with different backgrounds? We believe that the Lord can give our
children insight by His Holy Spirit so that they can have discernment,
understanding and wisdom in dealing with others who are "out in the
world" involved in things they've never experienced.
For example, William and I have been surprised at some of the areas of
ministry the Lord has opened up to us in the past--to people with drug,
alcohol and emotional problems. We weren't ever involved in these areas, but
the Lord chose to open the doors of ministry for us. God has given me a burden
for unwed teen mothers, but I never was one myself. In the Bible we see Paul,
apparently unmarried, teaching on marriage. He also had a ministry to gentiles
even though, to our minds, we might have thought that the Lord would have sent
him to the Jews, instead!
It seems that Timothy lived a godly, sheltered life from early childhood
and I'm sure his ministry wasn't hindered because he hadn't experienced the
depths of sin! John the Baptist is another good example. There are many
examples in the Bible of a season of preparation before ministry--which is
primarily what our children are doing right now (although they are involved in
some ministry--especially with us as a family).
The most effective ministry results when one walks closely with God,
hears His Voice, follows His leading, and stays in His Word. The Lord anoints
this person and fully equips him with all the necessary "tools" for
ministry, receiving ALL the glory!
"... I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of
wisdom...For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ,
and him crucified... And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing
words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that
your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of
God." (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
We need MORE Christians like this! I do believe that many of these
"sheltered" homeschoolers will be used mightily in ministry. What a
blessing to see our children develop in their relationships with the Lord and
others and in their unique gifts and callings, becoming "vessels
unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto
every good work." (2 Timothy 2:21) We're convinced that God has a
purpose and special ministry for each of them--something that only they can
fulfill. This makes our parenting and homeschooling all the more special and
God's Word is filled with principles to help us disciple
our children, prepare them for ministry and develop godly relationships. Here
are just a few--take time to search the scriptures with your children!
Romans 12:2 "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye
transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good,
and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
1 Timothy 4:12 "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an
example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in
faith, in purity."
2 Timothy 2:22 "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow
righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a
Colossians 2:6-8 "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the
Lord, so walk ye in Him: rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the
faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware
lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition
of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
Psalm 71:5 "For thou art my hope, O Lord God: thou art my trust
from my youth."
Psalm 101:2-4 "I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O
when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn
aside; it shall not cleave to me. A froward heart shall depart from me: I will
not know a wicked person."
Titus 2:12-13 "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts,
we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and
our Saviour Jesus Christ..."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the
Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For
ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your
spirit, which are God's."
1 Corinthians 15:33 "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good
2 Corinthians 6:14 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:
for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what
communion hath light with darkness?"
Ephesians 4:17 "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye
henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their
1 Peter 1:15 "But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in
all manner of conversation..."
James 4:4 "... know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity
with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of
Proverbs 22:24-25 " Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a
furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to
Proverbs 13:20 "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a
companion of fools shall be destroyed."
Ephesians 5:8-11 "... walk as children of light: (for the fruit of the
Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is
acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of
darkness, but rather reprove them."
Colossians 3:1-2 "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things
which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your
affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
[Note--If you don't know the Lord in a personal, saving
way--find out how you can be set free from all condemnation and receive Eternal
life, as well as His daily help and guidance! (Knowing God)
© Copyright Tamara Eaton 1994-2000, all rights reserved.
Permission is given to reprint any of Tamara's articles in non-profit
publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the
copyright information and website address. Please send a copy of the
publication to :Deeper Life Family Ministries, P.O. Box 909, Killen, AL 35645.
We have always homeschooled our six children (elementary through high
school and beyond!) and enjoy encouraging other families in their
homeschooling, parenting and in the Lord! For more help and information,
please join us on the Christian Homeschool
Fellowship Message Board.
[ Please don't forget to include your email address within the body of your
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"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."