An Act of Maturity

John, my third-born son who is fourteen, has had a summer project of building a shed for the family. The construction is according to building code, and therefore, he is receiving experience such as one would get if building a small house. It has been a great opportunity for him to have hands-on building experience, which he loves.

The first part of the project was for him to design the shed and draw it out. That took quite a while as he is normally fairly busy. The plans were approved by the city building inspector, and the construction has been going on for a while now. All of “us guys” have worked together helping him, but it is understood that it is his project. He has done quite well, but there is one tough area that he will still need to mature in: planning. (He gave me permission to share this with you.)

When it comes to hands-on working, he does great. However, planning is key to tackling a job and achieving the results for which one hopes. Drawing the building plans was a great first step. However, had I not encouraged John to do that, he would not have taken the time. Planning takes time and delays activity.

In a similar way, after having the Managers of Their Homes scheduling book out for six years, we have observed one primary indication of those who will be successful in scheduling – they spend the necessary time planning and developing their schedules. The ones who get the book, hastily read it (at best), and launch into the scheduling kit are the ones who will likely struggle or fail in getting a good schedule up and running. Planning is where the real work is done, on our knees and working through the details before the first attempted “building” of a schedule.

That is why there is something important to learn about the benefit of planning and then implementing according to the plan. I would frequently ask John before a shed workday what we were to do and how it was to be done. Usually, he had not thought it out, sought counsel, or done the research needed. As a result, there were a number of things that had to be done a second or third time. Now, it wasn’t wasted time. It still was profitable because it emphasized the need to plan, which is part of John’s education as well. That is why I say that when having children learn through projects, “Always try to manage the risk.” (By the way, that is why we try to use screws every chance we can as they make it much easier to take things apart when something didn’t go quite right.)

John is finding out in his shed project that if he doesn’t plan, the results can be less than desired. Planning is difficult to do because there is no visible progress being made during the planning. It takes maturity and the realization that time spent on an activity will be more productive if there is a good plan in place.

God had a plan from eternity past for Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, and He followed the plan (Ephesians 3:11). Planning is good, as long as our plan is based on God’s direction for our lives. God directs us to raise our children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). We are told in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 to train them. That is why most of us have taken the responsibility for teaching our children at home.

We would likely all agree that planning is important. This is not because we are worried or anxious about the outcome (although that may be some people’s motivation for planning), but because we want to be good stewards and come as close to the target as possible.

In owning the responsibility for educating and discipling our children, how do we intend to accomplish it without a plan? That is why school planning is very important to Teri and me. Frankly, it took a few years for this type of planning to become important to me. I’m on board now, and it is a vital part of our school year. The purpose of this Corner is to encourage you to begin school-year planning with your wife as well.

Realize that when we do something for the first time, it will likely feel awkward. That is okay. We need to push past those feelings and do what needs to be done. Think about it. We aren’t talking about a shed; we are discussing how to best use the years we have with our children – their future is at stake. How can we not plan?

Ask your wife to spend some time reflecting on the past school year for each child. Ask her to write down what has gone well and what hasn’t, questions that she needs answers on, and any other school decisions that need to be made. For years Teri has typed up and given this kind of information to me so I can spend some time praying and thinking about it prior to our planning day. It has been wonderful.

Then schedule a planning day. We have been able to leave the house for a day so that we won’t be distracted while we discuss the children. Some may not be able to do that, but it still can be very productive to do school planning at home. With just a little creativity, the children can be occupied so that you can spend some quality time with your wife planning.

For quite a few years, Teri and I would take a Saturday and use a meeting room where I used to work for a school planning day. With eight children, it would generally take most of the day to get through the school decisions. It was such a good use of time, though. There were even a few years when we would go to a bed and breakfast and have our planning day with a night away. Some years we had more time than others, but the end result is that God always blessed the fruit of those days.

As you undertake to plan your school year, remember, it is the Lord Jesus Who determines the steps. We need to pray about every aspect of what we discuss. It isn’t a matter of coming up with our own “wise” decisions but seeking to make a plan and choices that are consistent with God’s direction for our lives. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).