We are continuing the topic of a father’s godly legacy. To read the previous two months, see Part 1, Part 2. How critical is it to us when we are gone that we leave behind children who love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ? You can tell how important something is to a man by the decisions that he makes. A man will find a way to do what is important to him. No matter how difficult it is, how expensive or how much time it will take, he will do what he considers must be done. The question is just how important is it to us to raise mighty sons and daughters who will love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ? Our decisions and the life we live will be the proof.
Have you considered how important your role of discipling your children is in determining whether you will leave a godly legacy? We have observed many families where Dad’s responsibility is to bring home the income, and Mom’s is to raise the children. That is fine if they aren’t Christians, but Scripture is clear that Dad is to take the lead in the process of discipling the children. “And, ye fathers . . . bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
If discipling the children was the wife’s responsibility, then it wouldn’t make sense that a bishop/elder’s qualifications were contingent on his having faithful children. “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Timothy 3:1-5). Are we willing to own our responsibility, and how committed are we about raising godly sons and daughters?
Everyone has a spirit, soul, and body; therefore, we need to develop all three in our children if we are to do our job well. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Last month, we discussed preparing our children physically, and this month we will begin to look at disciplining their souls.
The soul is comprised of the mind, will, and emotions of a person. It is what makes us unique and often in Scripture is referred to as the heart of man. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45). We have tremendous opportunities to shape the hearts of our children. This month we will look at preparing the treasures of the mind.
Dads desiring a godly legacy understand the need to train their children’s minds in a Christ-focused, virtuous environment. They will pay their property tax bills (much goes to public and charter schools and state colleges) without the “benefit” of having their children’s education funded in order to avoid the godless, promiscuity-promoting, humanistic environment that the state system provides. Families avoiding state-funded education bear the added financial burden to purchase their own curriculum to ensure that God has His place in the knowledge that is shaping their children’s minds.
Sadly, we hear of families who have taken the “bait” of free curriculum or large dollar checks and been enticed to join charter homeschools thinking they are just another way of homeschooling. Since funding is from public money, Dad is signing away his ability to make choices as to how his children are educated. HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) reports that some thirty states prohibit the use of Christian curriculum in their charter schools. When enrolling his children in a charter school, Dad is now agreeing to fill his children’s minds with the same humanistic material that the public school children receive. With Jesus thrown out, Dad’s hope of a dynamic godly legacy is questionable at best.
I’ve heard that some are happy to enroll in charter schools with the hidden agenda of using Christian curriculum. Such a plan can be both illegal and a violation of conscience. If an agreement was signed stating that the provided curriculum would be used, to do anything else is wrong. The consequences associated with such a bad plan will be to teach the children that breaking one’s word is acceptable behavior as long as you have what you believe to be a good reason. This sort of corrupt example will produce a legacy of compromise.
Dads, who have a passion for a legacy of men and women of God, desire that their children function well in society by being able to speak, read, and write as ambassadors for Christ. Also, abilities in mathematics, science, and business are important. History is beneficial in understanding how God has worked with mankind following the historical account of Scripture. A knowledge of the wrong social choices man has made and the resulting consequences is important in preventing similar future problems.
Another aspect that shapes our children’s minds is not only what they learn but also how they learn. School is preparation for life, and life consists of work. Whether it is Dad providing for the family or Mom managing the home and teaching the children, life involves work. Work is what we are called to do. “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). The Hebrew word for “dress” means to work. God put man on the earth to work. That is why an essential part of raising our children is that as they transition from childhood to adulthood, they transition from playing to working.
Therefore, it is good that children are accustomed to doing schoolwork (as opposed to “schoolplay”). The older they are, the more they need to know how to apply themselves to the task of learning. God gave us a great example with the Bible. Notice it is not filled with pictures or cartoons but words. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). “Study” in the Greek means to make diligent effort. One of the best preparations for life is to teach our children to study diligently (which requires work) and enjoy it.
During our homeschooling years one of our greatest joys was when one of the children would come to Teri or me exclaiming about things they learned while studying. A tremendous blessing of the children learning to study independently is how they now readily apply themselves to learn new things even after their formal schooling is over. As a result, our children enjoy learning new software, acquiring new skills, working toward certifications, and additionally, the young men love sermon preparation and the ladies doing Bible studies. It is important that our children become lifelong learners. I believe when a person stops learning, they will likely stop growing and begin to shrivel up mentally. Teach your children to work and give them a love for learning. The caution is always to guard our minds and choose to learn only things that do not compromise our convictions.
In addition, we must be cautious to learn in a safe environment. You may want to visit ITonRamp.com, a new website that we launched in May. The goal is to equip young people and parents with new skills through long-distance courses.
In some aspects, twelve years of educating our children seems like a long time, but in reality it is short. There is so much for our children to learn that twelve years goes by quickly. That is why wise parents jealousy guard that time and stay home to concentrate on the children’s learning. Over the twenty years that we have encouraged homeschool families, we have observed that once a homeschooling mom leaves the house with her children for an activity such as a field trip, doctor’s appointment, or errand, little school work is accomplished when they return home. Each day must be seen as a precious resource and every minute used wisely.
Teri and I were shopping for a rug for our bathroom. We stopped into a “rug store” we have driven by many times. Unrequested by us, the salesman began showing us his most costly rugs, which turned out to be handmade. There was one rug roughly three feet by four feet. Every thread was hand inserted and then tied-off in the back. It took two people four months to make that rug. The patience and determination to work day-after-day on such an intricate design was overwhelming to me. We then told him we weren’t interested in paying a lot for something you walk on and would be very satisfied with a synthetic, machine-made rug at a fraction of the price. There’s a time to invest and a time to conserve. The souls of our children, who have been entrusted to our raising in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, are of infinite value. Are we investing in their lives? Are we being faithful stewards?