Jesus, Master Teacher... How Did He Do It?
Breaking the "Homeschool" Paradigm
For those who want JESUS, in all His Fullness...who want to move toward a way of life that’s led by the Spirit rather than by externals…
No Categories—It’s All The Same Thing
Whatever you do, please don’t view this on a shallow level of, “Wow, I sure am glad I home school,” after you read this. That’s not what this is all about. This is about something as fundamental as the difference between going to church and being the church. It’s like the difference between knowing the Bible, and knowing God. It’s just that fundamental! That’s the reason many of you teach your children at home—for the very same reason you don’t attend “services” someplace. But not everyone has that much vision about it just yet!
There is a direct correlation between teaching your children the ways of God in matters that are academic, and teaching them the ways of God in matters that are spiritual. They’re the same thing! It’s our job to show the children how those two things merge together. We don’t want to turn them over to unbelievers who have no way of merging those two “worlds” because they view them as two totally separate things. “We’ll talk about academic things here. But we’ll leave politics and religion for outside the classroom, off school property.”
God owns the heavens and the earth and everything is His, and that’s why some of us teach our children at home. He’s the one who created the planet, and the laws that He put in place are His laws. That means that every true law is inherently a spiritual law, because God put it into place. So when men discover something about the natural order of things, they’re discovering something that’s actually from God. And on the flip side, when man perverts something from the natural order of things, they’re actually opposing God and are His enemies. That’s why wisdom from the world is unspiritual and of the devil, according to James. All of that to say, there’s a direct correlation between how and why we do things, and spiritual matters.
Because Christ is all in all, there is no such thing as an academic “subject.” There is no such thing in God’s heart and mind as a “Bible study.” Some of you know what I mean by that, but everyone needs to know. Having a “Bible study” twice a week and approaching the scriptures in some sequential order, week-by-week is very far from God’s heart and mind. In truth, it’s very destructive to God’s purposes. Some of you understand that. Some of you have heard that and you believe it, but you’re not sure why it’s true. And some people are not convinced about it at all.
We’ve got to see that all of this is really the same subject. We teach our children at home instead of allowing the “factory” setting of school to shape and influence them. They’re at home so they can be given a healthy perspective of life, of information, of intellect and of priorities—all are spiritual matters, with a lot at stake. It’s not just some alternative way to educate our children.
A Diet And Three Alarm Clocks
Jesus didn’t need a wristwatch to be the most productive person on earth. And He didn’t need a diet to be the most disciplined person on earth with His eating. He was led by the Spirit, so He didn’t need that stuff. For us too it’s essential to learn to be led by the Spirit in every circumstance. And because we’re not quite there yet, sometimes we need to go on a diet, right? Haven’t there been times when you’ve had a lack of discipline in your life? You’ve plugged your ears and haven’t been able to listen to the Spirit very well? So to somehow crunch yourself into being able to hear the Spirit again, you put yourself under the law. Maybe you decide to fast or you set three alarm clocks so you get out of bed on time. You find yourself getting sloppy, so you use external means to help you achieve a Godly goal. Everyone has done that at some point in time, right? That’s okay.
But what if you always had to live that way? What if you had to make out lists of everything you could eat for the rest of your life? Or if you set your three alarm clocks and never varied one minute from your wake-up time? Your whole life would become a rigid machine that you set in place to make sure that you were being “spiritual.” That’d be a tough way to live, wouldn’t it?
I’m not saying that some form of law or help along the way isn’t a good thing. It certainly can be good to put yourself under some external discipline, if it’s in order to help you hear God better. But remember, that’s the goal—to hear God better. The truth is, we don’t need externals to keep us in line if we’re listening to God every moment. Jesus never needed any of that! His discipline came moment by moment from the Spirit of God. He never did anything He didn’t see the Father doing, or said anything He didn’t hear the Father saying. Wouldn’t that be a better way to live than putting externals in place to make sure we do all the “right things”? Do you understand that? It’s very important to understand, because how we educate our children is very related to all of that.
Some people make it their goal to read through the Bible in a year. So they write it on their calendar and read x-number of verses a day, right? Do they get some good out of it? Probably. But wouldn’t it be far better if you got up in the morning, spent some time with Jesus, and He directed your attention to some specific scriptures that He wanted you to read? It wouldn’t be out of your “good deed” for Him. And it wouldn’t just be a discipline of your flesh so you can grow, where you don’t get much out of it, but you keep doing it anyway. Picture instead, that out of relationship with Him He whispers in your ear, “I would love for you to spend some time in Hebrews 4 this morning.” How wonderful! You celebrate that and it’s anointed! And that is the difference. It’s not dry and lifeless, like it is three out of four days when it’s on your calendar.
Wouldn’t it be far better if you could fellowship with Jesus about what He wants to teach you? So maybe He draws you through a theme of faith for six months at a time, directing your attention to things that He wants you to see and learn. Isn’t that a higher way than reading through the Bible in a year, as “spiritual” as that sounds? Maybe it’s better than not reading your Bible at all, but wouldn’t it be much greater to have Jesus lead you? Out of fellowship He would lead you through His Word in His own time and way, drawing you into the things He wants for you. Make sense?
Even Our “Forefathers” Were Doin’ It! (Well, sort of…)
In the early days of America, George Washington and others were doing something far more organic than what’s going on right now. It wasn’t by the leading of the Spirit, but it was in cooperation with God’s way of doing things (unbeknownst to them!). We might think the government school system is the only way to do business, but there’s something much more organic that’s possible, even to unbelievers. “As we rise up, as we sit down, as we walk along the way.” That’s scripture, and it’s also the best way to teach your children even if you’re a pagan.
George Washington wasn’t very bright compared to his friends, but he was doing trigonometry at age 11. “Wow!” we say. “Trigonometry at age 11? What a genius!” But that was normal back then in this country. Our problem is that we’ve sold ourselves into this way to “do church” with programs and hierarchies. It’s this way to “do education” with big bucks and buildings, programs and curriculums. We’ve sold ourselves into this way to do business that’s more off of Henry Ford’s assembly line than it is out of God’s Ways.
Teaching the Way HE Taught—And Teaches
Jesus is the Master Teacher, right? He was the greatest Teacher who ever walked the face of the earth—no one would ever dispute that! So how did He teach? However He taught is how we need to teach. We know better than to pull our Bibles out every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. to study 2 Timothy. That’s not how Jesus did it! We know better than that. So what this means is, let’s learn to apply the principles of being led by the Spirit, to the teaching of our children. Let’s learn how to walk organically, out of life, “as we rise up, as we sit down, as we walk along the way.” Let’s learn how to do that and be led by the Spirit in every area of discipline in our lives.
It’s so easy to fall back on, “I’m going to read through the Bible in a year and that means 14 verses a day.” You’re motivated to fall back on that when you feel bad about yourself—you feel kind of lazy, like you just can’t do it. We feel bad about ourselves and our walk with God isn’t very strong, so we look for a way to bail ourselves out of the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. That’s when we sometimes turn to the externals. Don’t get me wrong—externals can be okay sometimes. But that’s not where we want to end up! We don’t want to be satisfied with depending on externals with education any more than we would do that in the church. We understand that in the church, right? There’s no difference between the church and educating our children—there’s no difference. We know that, so let’s practice it! There’s no difference between how we eat or what we do at work or how we are in the church. It’s all God’s kingdom! It all belongs to God, so the way we function should be the same in every arena of life. Like Jesus, we won’t do anything we don’t see the Father doing.
The Best Way
Some people are used to being totally irresponsible. They don’t take responsibility for their own life—the bell rings and they get up and go. They don’t even care, they don’t understand, they don’t think. Someone comes along and says, “Stop it. You need to take responsibility for your own life.” So they do and that’s better than being like Pavlov’s dog that just jumps up when the bell rings. However, there’s a higher way, and that is, to be led by the Spirit of God in all that we do. Out of our relationship with God, we know when to do it, how to do it, and why to do it. We’re not led around by what’s expected of us or other external things. So keep in mind, “Sure, the externals are better than nothing at all. But, there is yet a higher way.”
It takes work sometimes to extract Truth from the things around you. Some people go out for a run with other believers and they don’t learn a thing from it. Some people go out for a run with other believers, and they’re testing their own heart—watching, praying, and learning from it! The difference between those two people is inside the heart. Try and put yourselves amongst those that extract spiritual truth from every last thing they see—everything they can find. We want to always be listening for how we can apply things to the Kingdom of God. And don’t stop at the obvious, but go deeper! Many people walked by the farmer in the field and the pearl merchant day after day and learned nothing from them. Jesus saw the same things, and He knew the meaning of it and extracted it and applied it to their lives in a profound way. As followers of Jesus, we need to learn how to do that too. Challenge yourself to be a disciple who can extract spiritual truths and apply them in your life.
“Okay Everyone, Sway Right…”
We want the children to be thinkers. The goal, as we’re rising up and sitting and walking along the way, is to teach the children how to think, in both physical and spiritual matters. Jesus did it so well—He taught people how to think. He didn’t teach them to regurgitate a bunch of information. That’s the clergy/laity system “in a nutshell.” You sling a bunch of people out there, give them a creed and give them a bunch of doctrines to follow. About a quarter of them can say the doctrines back to you, and the rest just sit there and have very little they can understand, retain or identify with.
Just because of being a human being, there’s something that ought to really grate us about the religious world. In a charismatic place you might hear someone say, “Now, repeat after me! And the guy would yell, “I said!” And the people would chant back, “I said!” Then, “You said”… “You said.” And on and on like that. Have you ever been in a place like that or seen it on TV, where people are treated like little children? “Okay, everyone, I want you to raise your hands and link hands over your head. Then everyone sway right. Okay, now everyone sway left.” Those situations happen all the time in concerts, or Pentecostal “churches” or wherever. The problem with it is that it’s very demeaning and degrading, whether it happens from a religious pulpit or a school pulpit. “Listen everybody! Repeat after me. If everybody says it right, and smiles just right you get an ‘A’.” In other words, “You get my approval, and then you can go on to the rest of your life.” That’s generally why ten million people have been robbed of their inheritance in any given 20-year span. It’s because they’re all treated like babies and led to believe that all they can ever do is “repeat after me”—whether it’s in a schoolroom or a “church” building. If you let them do anything else, they might botch it up.
There was a time when big business men wanted to create workers for their assembly lines. So how would they go about doing that? Seems like it would be pretty hard to get a bunch of intelligent, thriving people to stand in an assembly line, not asking or suggesting anything—to get them to just stand there and not cause trouble. They wanted people to be human machines, doing the same thing over and over again, mindlessly and without comment, and accepting any kind of treatment and any kind of wage. Seems like it’d be pretty hard to create a bunch of people like that! But they came up with this brilliant idea of importing the Prussian school system, which created Nazi Germany. In the 1930’s it turned a bunch of intelligent people, even some with PhD’s, into a mass of conformists that would do whatever they were told and just repeat after me—“Heil, Hitler!” This is some serious stuff! And we’ve not only imported the Prussian school system into the U.S. public or “factory” schools, but we’ve also imported it into the “church” world. It’s imported into boardrooms behind closed doors too. Everyone’s told what they’re supposed to believe, and how they’re supposed to act. They’re told who they are, and treated like little children with a “repeat after me.”
You’d be appalled at the way “worship leaders” talk in this country behind the scenes—to hear what they say in their seminars… “If you want to get the music just right, start with quiet songs to get people in the mood. Then right before the offering, use this other kind of song to provoke giving.” All this incredible psychology and manipulation goes into the “church services.” You’d hear exactly the same things in the seminaries—when to pound the pulpit, and how to make an appeal. You’d hear how to carry yourself, the perfect time to make your entrance and when to slip out. All this stuff is taught in order to control people. In Revelation 2 it says that Jesus hates both the practice and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. And the Greek meaning of Nicolaitans means, “to conquer the people.” Jesus hates the practice of conquering the people.
Andrew Carnegie and others wanted a new world order that would generate a great amount of wealth for a few people. They needed a mass of people who would do what they were told and not ask any questions. People who would attend “services” regularly, give their money, smile and go on without asking any questions. They wouldn’t raise their hand and say, “Yeah, but wait a minute! Can we talk about this?” Carnegie didn’t want that sort of thing. It’s not good for the American economy. It’s not good for the “church” economy to have people asking questions! It wouldn’t be good to have people who converse, people who think—people who have their own prayer life, and want to work out God’s will in their lives. If they lay down their lives for others, and relate to others—that would cause problems! That’s good for some people, but it’s not good for the Body of Christ. It’s better if folks would just veg out in front of the TV, get in their car, drive to “services”, get back in their car, drive home and plop in front of their TV again. And you wonder why 99% of American Christians don’t grow one lick in 20 years? It’s because they never face anything Real in their own hearts. They never deal with anything. They don’t change and don’t lead their children in any way of righteousness. That is just the way it is in America’s religious world. That same philosophy of education is reflected very clearly in the government school systems.
What About Charts And Calendars??
The application is that we teach our children spiritually how to rise up, sit down and walk along the way. We don’t have it all planned out. Does any one of you have a calendar or chart with a big list of all the attributes of Jesus to teach your children this month? Do you have the qualities of Jesus or the doctrines of Paul written on a piece of paper somewhere and you’re going to make sure they learn it all before they go on to the next year? Does that sound like a good idea to you? Personally, I don’t recommend it, because the tree of the knowledge of good and evil leads to death. “Oh, that would be such a ‘gooood’ idea….” Wrong. God is sovereign and larger than all of us and He will lead us in the paths of His choosing if we will listen.
The problem in the garden was a problem with listening. There was an inability or an unwillingness to stay connected to the Head. They wanted to be like gods, wanting within themselves the ability to know good from evil. We want to have good thoughts in ourselves, “I know that I am a good pray-er. I know that I’m functioning perfectly in the gifts that I have. I know that in these certain ways, I’m bearing fruit that will last. I know that I know all the scriptures I’m supposed to.” We want that secure sort of attitude.
We think that if we knew all those things about ourselves, we’d be happy. But we wouldn’t. God wants us to be totally dependent on Him, and to trust that He will lead us as the current Master Teacher and Comforter. He’ll lead us into His ways, His righteousness, and a knowledge of Him and the ability to flourish in the life He has granted us. It’s a process, it’s a relationship. It’s also the way we relate to one another, and the way we want to relate to our children. We wouldn’t choose 15 ways that our children should be more like Jesus and put them on the refrigerator and cross them out one by one as they’re conquered in their lives. Just like we wouldn’t treat a child like he’s a machine! “But aren’t these all good things that they should have?” Well of course they are. But that isn’t how you go about it. “What’s wrong with reading the Bible? Isn’t it good to read the whole Bible in one year?” Maybe so, but with that kind of logic, you might be fighting against God by how you’re going about it.
We’re talking about applying spiritual truths that we already know inherently in the way we lead our children in areas of character and their knowledge of God. We lead them organically as a family. It’s as we rise up, sit down, and walk along the way in the same way that Jesus did with the 12 and even with the multitudes. There was a process that was very organic and very alive.
Once there was a teacher that wouldn’t let students just regurgitate a bunch of material so that they could pass on to the next grade. He didn’t tell them, “Do this, this and this and now you’re okay. Go on to the next place.” He taught them how to think, how to be. It wasn’t just about what you know, or what you do—it’s about who you are. And that was the process he was dedicated to. The “what they knew” and the “what they did” would take care of themselves once they began to see that “who they were” was the Real issue.
There is a way to view life where we can pull all these things together and apply them in our lives academically and spiritually. With our children, we’d never say, “Every Tuesday and Thursday let’s study 1 Timothy together.” Of course you’d love for your children to know every truth that is in 1 Timothy! But that isn’t how you’d want to approach it.
Don’t Panic Now, Okay?
Just keep these things in mind as we talk about expanding our children and helping them learn and understand in other areas of life. Don’t panic! When you started “forsaking the assembly” on Sunday mornings, you panicked a little then too, didn’t you? : ) Like, “Uh-oh. What are we going to do without Bible classes for all ages? What are we going to do without a Sunday morning service from 9 to 11?” You panicked a little bit when you first thought of that, didn’t you? There was the insecurity of, “Surely we can’t grow spiritually if we don’t have all these machines and props and programs in place to hold us together. We’ll fly apart!”
A while back, the body of Christ here didn’t have large gatherings with the whole church for six months, and at the time, logic said, “Chaos! Everyone will fall apart spiritually. Oh, we’ll never see each other!” Well it didn’t happen that way, did it? We knew better. But someone from the outside would say, “How can an entire church go for six months without a single meeting? How could that be? That’s impossible! I bet everyone will fall away and no one will pray. No one will care about each other—they’ll never even see each other for six months!” That’s what most people would think. But because it’s family, people actually grew spiritually! They changed. They continued to grow and become more like Jesus at the same pace as when there were frequent gatherings. It’s because our lives don’t depend on externals. It never has and it never will.
The same is true for our children. Their lives are not held together by externals. The best thing we can teach them is how to HEAR GOD, how to become, and how to walk with Him as they rise up and sit down and walk along the way. We can give them the desire to learn, to experiment, to ask questions and go places people have never gone before. Like with us—what are we doing here? We’re going places that no one has ever gone before (as far as we know!). We don’t know of many people who think or act like we’ve been describing, but there are a lot of people who want to! Some people are desperate and have spent years trying to find the way of the cross, and the way of the Spirit, rather than doing the futile business of attending some religious thing for the rest of their lives. More and more people want answers. Well, we’re here because we desire to go forward with God and we’re willing to take a chance. We’re willing to risk, and rethink things and not just accept what’s been fed to us for the last 2000 years. Let’s keep learning, and keep growing—that’s really what this is all about as it relates to education or any other area of life.
Sure, you might start to panic when the props are taken away. When I had crutches for a while after knee surgery, the first few steps without those crutches were frightening beyond belief. There was little strength in the legs, but the difficulty was a head problem more than anything. The queasy stomach has nothing to do with the knee, it has to do with fear! Be encouraged with all this, if you’ve already made a lot of changes in your life. You’ve probably come a long way. As it relates to education, I’m not suggesting that you get radical and make some instantaneous jump into something way off someplace. But what I am saying is, there’s a little more risk that we could be taking in this process of raising our children. There is a higher way to be led by the Spirit and to draw our children up into being thinkers. Our children and young adults can be people who risk, who ask questions. They don’t have to fall into some dead pattern like everyone before them. Instead of regurgitating the state capitals, they’re asking why that state capital moved from one place to another! Why are things as they are? They can be people who are able to comprehend and think, and ask the questions that will change the world. And I’m not just talking about having some economic or social impact. I’m talking about all the related spiritual issues that are very real and very applicable to our lives.
We dare not teach our children to be followers that fall in line behind some pat answer that’s been shoved in their face. Just like with us—we’re not here because we accepted the empty traditions handed down by our forefathers! We are here because we’ve been willing to question things. We have been willing to say, “I know what the previous generations thought, but what does God really think? What does He think about it?”
We need to teach our children to think like that—to have that same question and way of approaching life. If we mimic the public school system in educating our children, we’ll be teaching them to follow an empty pattern that’s been handed down to them. They’ll learn to spit things back having added nothing to it. That isn’t what we want, is it? We don’t want to bring only that which is given to us, to the table of Life. We want to go beyond that and bring more than we were given, right? We want to add something to the life that God has given us. We want to offer something to people around us, that goes beyond the norm. We want to do that ourselves, and we need to train our children to think like that too. Let’s put them on a path that will allow them to catapult ahead of where we are. A lot of this has to do with our daily interactions with them, including the way we educate them.
Exploring TOGETHER…With Respect And Love
Question: I want my child to obey, but I don’t want her to just mimic responses to me. When I ask her to do something, I want her to say, “Yes, mama,” and not argue with me. So how do I teach her to obey, yet to still think?
Great question… Some people approach life like there’s no standard and you get points or something for being “radical.” God has a truth for us here about teaching the children that’s deep and rich, and no one has come close to exploring the depths of it. And God is calling each of us to dare to go farther than anyone around us has ever gone before. But searching that out is not a matter of rebellion or being radical. It’s a process that’s in cooperation with everyone around us. Like Moses said, “I don’t even want to go in unless I can bring everyone with me.” Those attitudes of cooperation and respect for authority are very much a part of how we want to approach all this.
Someone could say, “Well, don’t let everybody else do your thinking for you. Develop your own convictions.” The words sound right, and it even has an air of spirituality to it. But it’s missing the element that there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. Let’s say a person has a conviction about alcohol, and he isn’t going to let others tell him what to think about it. “I’ve developed my own convictions about it.” He’ll end up setting himself back five to ten years spiritually because of it. There is truth in this world. There are real things that God knows that maybe you don’t know. So don’t be afraid to ask the questions—you ought to ask them. That doesn’t mean you hear something and blindly say, “Okay, I’ll go do that.”
Become A THINKER, And Work It Out TOGETHER
The question you asked is very important, because we need to teach our children to pursue truth, but there are definitely boundaries of truth in our lives. Whether we like it or not, the fact that I have a conviction about something doesn’t make it true. My conviction does not make it true. It’s not “right” simply because I think it’s right. To develop “my own convictions” in a vacuum as if I’m running the show rather than God is a very dangerous thing to do. The fact is that I have to start with, “God is running this show.” I also don’t want to just blindly follow what other people are saying or doing. I want to understand why they have the convictions that they do. They have convictions and probably know God better than I do and they’ve been down the road farther than I have. Somehow, some way, I need to find out why they reached the conclusions they did. Not just what those conclusions are, but why they reached those conclusions. And if in my pursuit of it I still don’t develop the same convictions that they have, I have to ask, “Why not?” I have to ask questions about why our convictions are still different. It’s not just “What do you believe?” And then you say, “Okay, I believe that too, because you’re smart, and you’re spiritual.” That’s junk.
But it’s also not, “Well, I’ve heard other people’s convictions about it. And frankly, I have my own.” That’s sheer rebellion. That’s not Godly. It’s terrible and it’s tragic. That will set you back at least five years in your spiritual walk. Here’s a much better way… “Why do you have the conviction that you do? I trust you, so please help me understand. You’ve told me everything about it and I don’t share that conviction yet. Is it that you’re wrong, or is it that I don’t understand what you’re trying to say? Can we invite someone over who shares your conviction? If your conviction’s right, I want to have it too! I refuse to be lazy about it. I’m not going to withdraw and say, ‘Oh well. He didn’t sell me on his conviction, so I’m stuck with my own.’” No! We care, we love, and we respect enough to keep pressing, to find out why.
Some of the most important words and convictions come out of us when there’s some sort of crisis or crossroads in our lives. Those times push us to say things that we had never put into words before. “Here’s why I feel this way about it.” “Oh wow, now I understand!” Such wonderful, rich truths can come out of our lives and into our lives if we keep pressing until we understand.
Some people in this world are very miserable because they try so hard to believe what everyone tells them. They end up miserable and shallow. They can’t help anyone and fall apart if someone asks them a question they can’t understand. It’s really not a matter of saying, “Okay, since you’re more knowledgeable, spiritual, and wise than I am, your conviction has to be mine.” You don’t just go around like a parrot. That ain’t it! But it’s also not, “I have my own conviction about that. Mine is just as good as yours!” Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. But one thing’s for sure, if our convictions differ about something that matters, you owe it to me to talk to me about it. And I owe it to you too. If I know you’re following God with every fiber of your being and your conviction is different than mine about something important, I must get with you to resolve it. We have to find out which one of us is right, if either. Because we’re probably not both “right.”
How lazy, sloppy, and careless to allow differing convictions between us simply because we never pursued it to a depth that would expose the weaknesses in our convictions. We need to deepen our walks. Conflict, controversy and differing convictions are some of God’s best tools to deepen our walks with each other and with Him. It’s not a matter of blind conformity. It’s also not a matter of rebellious, “I’ve got my own opinion and judgment of you and yours.” Out of love we owe it to each other to find out why. Out of love we test and approve and hold fast. We need to go into everything that we can to find out why—until each of our convictions is refined by God to a far greater measure than either of them was separately. It’s very important that we do that.
Likewise, With The Children…
And for sure, there is order in God’s house. The Father is the head of Christ, and Christ is the head of the man. The man is the head of the woman and the children are then under the mother and the father. That order must be honored by all. That doesn’t mean it’s disrespectful for the children to ask questions. We want them to ask questions but it has to be with respect and not out of judgment or arrogance. It can’t be a flippant or a boisterous thing, but they can honestly say, “Mom, I heard you say something, and I’m not sure I understand why that’s the case.” We can applaud that! And if we find ourselves rebelling against that, it’s usually because we didn’t know what we were talking about! We say, “Don’t you be asking me why!” And under our breath, “Because I don’t know why.” We get a little indignant when there are too many questions, or we can’t answer them because we don’t know why either. It’s so important that we stay soft in every situation. If we really don’t know why, just say so! And then find out why!
We want to teach our children, “Are you sure you know what I asked you to learn? Great.” Then they repeat it back to you. And you ask them, “Do you know why it’s that way? If you don’t, then you don’t really know it. Start over.” We probe into that area of why and how. “You know what a toaster does, but do you know how it works? Find out how and get back with me.” We’re teaching them how to think. You may find your toaster in little pieces in their bedroom someday, : ) but you’ll have a child that knows how to think.
Seriously though…don’t worry, it’s really going to be okay. It takes some confidence and security and wisdom on our part, to press our children and those around us on a spiritual plane. We press them to not only know what, but to go deeper and to know the why’s and the how’s—the insides of the thing so they can actually reproduce it or take it different directions as the circumstances vary. You’ve heard it said on the academic side, “That’s what makes America great.” And you could say on the spiritual side, “That’s what makes great Christians—people who don’t just parrot back what they’ve heard.”
Know how to think. If people ask you “why” enough times it makes you understand your own heart better. Someone says, “How can you carry that attitude?” or “What is that look on your face?” It forces you to take a closer look at your decisions and your motives. But most people don’t think about motives—they just do stuff. If they’re told, then they do it. If they want it, then they get it. But we are learning to stop and ask those questions, “Why? What does God think about this?” And we’re deepened in the process.
People can be of average intelligence but be far wiser and far deeper than the rest of America. They could stand up against the vast majority of business managers because they know how to think. Paul said to the people in Corinth, “Isn’t the least of the saints more capable of judging than the kings and judges of this age? Why are you going to the pagans to be judged? What do they know?” Paul didn’t just say, “Oh by the way, you have the Holy Spirit.” He was saying that the process of being a follower of Jesus makes you far more of a man or woman than any pagan would ever be. You’re far more of a philosopher, mathematician or geographer than what the pagans could ever be—because we’re seeing through the matter to God’s heart. We comprehend in the next dimension beyond what the pagans could possibly comprehend.
Paul was saying that we’re not ignorant like the pagans and unbelievers. We’re aware that there’s something beyond, and we press towards that. We raise our children to do the same. “So tell me, what is the meaning of this? Why do you do what you do? Why does this work the way it works? What is prayer? Don’t just tell me the words about it—tell me what it means!” We need to press our children and each other to go way beyond just “repeat after me.” And that’s where the respect comes in…we’re humble and we honor, but we want to get into the meat of the thing and not just parrot some expected answer. Every situation is different, but if we’re thinking that way, we’ll get to the heart of the matter, more and more and more.
“Children’s Bible Hour”—Friend Or Foe??
For generations now, the “church world” has had this need, or so they’ve thought, for “Bible classes for all ages.” Do we really need them?? In the gatherings of the church here, many of the children probably don’t understand 15 to 20% of what’s being said—the definitions of the words, anyway. We don’t make a bunch of concessions for age or background when the whole church is together. It’s different than the norm, for sure, but God’s led us that way over the years and it’s been very comfortable. We don’t have some sort of caste system, with different “levels”—like whether someone’s a new convert or not. No classes for the “new converts,” yet it’s fun to watch new believers quickly grow to great levels of strength. That’s God’s pattern!
There’s no big push to baby the children with some kind of “children’s Bible hour” and minimize things. They’re growing spiritually, and growing in maturity and character and in the knowledge of God and His ways. But we don’t play some kind of kiddy game to get them there. It’s a process of being in and amongst the adults, whether in a public setting, at home or somewhere else. It’s a valid principle spiritually and with academic things too. Talking down to people, and patronizing them only makes matters worse.
Remember that musical, “My Fair Lady”? It’s a story about an English professor of linguistics at a college in London. He finds a girl in the poor section of town who has terrible grammar—terrible English. He sets out to “clean her up” and make her a lady. As the story unfolds, she eventually becomes the person he treated her as. He saw who she could become, and as he loved her and believed in her, she became that person. He had failure after failure with her when he tried to help her in some “academic” way. But when he loved her and believed in her, she changed. How much more for our children! Out of our love and out of our faith in them, they become who we believe they are. We don’t talk down to them and pressure them with, “You need to get from here to here” in some sort of rigid way. Life springs forth if we just draw them into the life of the Family and let the natural flow of things do its work.
That one-room schoolhouse with children from ages 5 to 19 isn’t far from what we’re talking about. The principle of being under one roof together and children basically teaching themselves was the birthplace of some of the greatest advances in technology. Because it was a family environment, no education “system” was ever better. Men like Adams and Jefferson and even John Wesley were unbelievable in the way they functioned, and in their academic knowledge (though that doesn’t have much value in and of itself). But these were brilliant intellects that made great leaps, in understanding the world that we live in. The point is that the way those men got there, was a whole lot closer to the way we’re supposed to be raising one another and our children, spiritually. It’ a whole lot closer than the factory schools and factory “churches” of today. Try and catch a sense of the organic life that yields results in every area of life—academically, spiritually and otherwise. And keep in mind that really every area is spiritual.
(If you trust the world system for a minute, think again! It will be deceptive in every fashion imaginable in order to accomplish its goals. The nature of technology, and the deception and the conspiracy of mankind is beyond belief. Can you imagine an extremely realistic photograph of Abraham Lincoln and Marilyn Monroe together? Well it happened—they made it look so realistic! You better believe they could do that same thing to you. They could put you in some kind of photograph, to incriminate you. And the world could “prove” that you never filed your income tax return, even if you did. Believe me, the world system can get you, and satan’s the mastermind. Satan has a whole lot more against what you and I are doing with our lives, than the average guy who stirs up worldly stuff. That is just the nature of this world and if you don’t have a conspiratorial view of the planet, you better get one. It’s just the way life is. Satan’s the ruler of this world and that’s how he plays the game. So think in those terms. Life isn’t always fair or just, or sane, or honest. It isn’t that way in this world—that’s why we’re pilgrims, aliens, strangers and foreigners looking for a home.)
“Uneducated” Dirt Farmer??
Back in the old days, the average, uneducated (so-called) American farmer had a plow in one hand and a philosophy book in the other. They were aware of the world around them. USA Today has made sure that all we know about these days are the latest statistics about America’s favorite sitcoms. You can’t even find world news in the average newspaper in the United States! Frankly, we’re being cut off, systematically, from an awareness of what makes the world work—we don’t even know. The rest of Europe thinks we’re total fools because the average American has no idea what’s going on. People are satisfied with a Big Mac in one hand and USA Today in the other. All they want out of life is to make a decent wage and go home and watch sitcoms.
That’s how most Americans are viewed—they don’t know anything. And that hasn’t happened by accident. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer assessed it, “The only thing that could come from Prussia’s factory schools is a world war.” The average American dirt farmer in the 1830’s knew that too! They were aware of what makes humanity work and could discuss topics that only college professors can discourse on now. Contrast that with the American school system…the average high school graduate can’t even read very well, let alone do trigonometry at age 11, which was very average back then. It’s not just that the teachers need to be brilliant, either. It would be easy to think that the weight is on our shoulders, “Wow! We need to be brilliant beyond belief if we’re going to teach our 11 year olds trigonometry!” That’s not really the way it is.
It’s a matter of functioning in God’s way, using God’s means in all matters of life, and then “we” will never be the limit for our children or others that we influence. But if I function in the “factory” mode, then I will be the limit of everyone around me that I influence. Whoever I am spiritually, I won’t be the limit if I do things God’s way. Brilliance can rise to its own level both spiritually and academically. What you know will not be the limit of what your children can know if you teach them how to learn rather than teach them ideas to regurgitate. That’s why this is important both spiritually and academically.
Passing The Torch—The Elijah/Elisha Connection
Go back and take a look at the relationship between Elijah and Elisha. It’s an impressive picture, because it has a whole lot to do with why we are here and how we live our lives. Just before Elijah was caught up into the heavens in a chariot of fire, they went and visited something called the “schools of the prophets.” Whatever in the world it was, it was something Elijah started and a place where he taught. There were men at these “schools of the prophets” who learned from Elijah, but did any of them get Elijah’s mantle? What an impact, that Elisha got the mantle. In the end, it was Elisha who got the power, and who got Elijah’s respect from God and man. And then Elisha went and split the Jordan in half! So what was the difference between the “schools of the prophets” and Elisha? The difference was that Elisha was a friend of Elijah—they walked together! It was an apprentice relationship, it wasn’t “school.” There weren’t any “classes” for Elisha—they were friends! Elisha became who Elijah was out of relationship, out of walking together. As they rose up, as they sat down, as they walked along the way. I’m sure Elijah gave some wonderful teachings in the “schools of the prophets.” No doubt, the men there put great effort into learning how to be prophets. But in the end, they watched Elisha walk away with the mantle.
We’re looking for the difference between the schools of the prophets and Elisha’s training. We’re not trying to move the school of the prophets from school buildings into homes. If we bring them out of a building—be it “church” building or school building—and do exactly the same thing in a living room, we haven’t accomplished anything! There’s no difference between the two.
People out there complain about how they’re part of a “house church” but it’s really just “services” in a living room. Changing clothing and locations doesn’t change why and how a thing happens. The dynamics can be basically the same even though the environment is totally different. The same can be true for our children. Even if we’re “at home” it’s possible to still be putting them “through the schools,” both spiritually and academically.
We’re trying to bring it from “school” to the relationship Elijah had with Elisha—apprenticing. It’s our lives together, daily in public and from house to house. Admonishing one another daily so that none are hardened and deceived by sin. “I perceive that you are competent to counsel one another.” It’s a life of confessing sins one to another, serving one another, hoping, trusting and keeping no record of wrongs. That’s what makes us become who God wants us to be—all of us together training ourselves like Elijah and Elisha—and the mantle from God is passed on. We grow spiritually and change as we live the way those men did—not like the way of the schools of the prophets. It’s through relationship that we draw the children into a knowledge of the world around them, both spiritually—and in what we call academic “subjects.”
In some ways it’s scary because there are no props and no guarantees. There’s no “Bible class” anymore. “Oh no! How will my children know their Bibles?” This is how…Life and relationship and application of the scriptures day by day by day… hearing it, living it, breathing it. And all of a sudden they know it! No memory verses, but they know it. How does that happen? It’s because Elijah and Elisha’s relationship yielded fruit. The schools of the prophets may have given marginal satisfaction to their egos, but very little beyond that. We want the Elijah and Elisha kind of apprenticeship with each other, and with our children in every area of our lives. That’s where the Real fruit is.
Organic Life And Leaving The Props Behind
Question: The state has requirements for what the children have to accomplish. For example, in the high school years, they may be required to have “4 years of history” or “4 years of literature”. It’s easy to get into a rut with a textbook and then it’s hard to branch out and be creative and research into other areas. We’re not going to say, “Phooey on the state” and don’t want to! So how do we weave in a 1,000 page textbook on a subject (that’s a lot of material) that’s “expected” of them, but at the same time be freed up to let the children explore and search into other areas of interest and value?
It has to help us to consider that George Washington knew trigonometry at age 11. : ) That has to help us. He wasn’t a brilliant person—he was average, so there has to be a way! Would George Washington have passed today’s education equivalency tests? Yes, I believe he would. By the time he was in the “sixth grade”, he would’ve already surpassed today’s high schoolers. If we think in those terms, then surely we can accomplish what’s “required by the state” through organic means. If George Washington could do it, then so can we. Living it out with each other in an organic way will provide better tools than what we’ve been using previously, to accomplish the task.
Assignments that require broad exposure will teach them how to learn. It’ll cause them to overlap into different areas—learning something about history, about literature, about philosophy, about math, spelling, grammar and on and on. The practical things we give them to do will help them discover all these areas. In one sense it won’t be a textbook-curriculum-based-education anymore. But the end result will be far better.
All of us were so afraid to leave the “church” system because we had to leave all the props that helped us to be “spiritual”—the sermons, the Bible classes, the programs. But when the props were gone, we all grew ten times faster than we ever had before! The impetus for learning was provided by organic life rather than the curriculum based, go-through-the-textbook approach that we’d been doing for years. We learned to take personal responsibility for our own lives, and our gifts and callings that God has given us. And as we took responsibility for ourselves and in our relationships, there were dynamics, which resulted in a far better spiritual “education” than we ever could’ve imagined!
Washington, Lincoln, Edison and countless others gained a far better education from organic life than they would have from curriculums and classes. Likewise, the true brilliance of our children will come out better organically than it will institutionally. In the religious system we worked our heads off and produced only minimal fruit—very little spiritual growth. We bashed our heads against the wall with much pain and anguish and yet had little success in helping others grow. Similiarly, we can put tons and tons of effort into this “way” of educating a child, and our efforts can be largely wasted. But if we help our children grow and learn in God’s way it will only produce far better results, not worse.
What we’ve been talking about isn’t something you “squeeze in”, in addition to the 1,000 page textbook. We’re talking about Jesus’ way to approach the dilemma, which will yield far better results. There may be ebbs and flows to what is happening in any given month. But over the course of a year this kind of Life will yield better understanding, better knowledge, better wisdom, better experience, and a better ability to cope with the world around us—just like it has done for us spiritually.
I know of a pretty high caliber college, where one out of three incoming freshmen are valedictorians or salutatorians in high school. The school has a pretty rigid entrance exam. Also, year after year, this school’s officials have polled the five, ten, and twenty-year graduates to see how they are doing. The funny thing is that the most successful people by far, are NOT the ones who graduated with the highest grades but the ones who graduated with a grade point average of between 2.8 and 3.1. Even some 2.0’s were millionaires, five years after graduation! But the ones who had the highest grade point averages turned out to be very unsuccessful in life.
Are we trying to meet some sort of external standard to please the world system? Or are we really trying to make our children successful in life? If we copy the school system’s “way” of teaching in our homes in order to meet their external criteria, we’ll be forced to use their methods to do it—their textbooks, their curriculums, and their “class schedules”. If we use their methods because they’ve forced their desire for results upon us, we will end up with the same thing Carnegie wanted from the public schools. And that is, little, non-thinking, non-accomplishing robots that just do what they’re told and never achieve their potentials. There’s a risk involved, but maybe we should take a chance and begin to experiment.
Take the Risk Or Run Back To The Props?
Is there a risk in being led by the Spirit instead of depending on props? Big risk! Why? Because if you don’t know how to be led by the Spirit, you’re going to fail. When the props are in place, at least you can feel good about yourself, like you’re on the right path. You don’t have to feel miserable as if you are a failure or something. But when you’re propped up by externals, the things inside your heart don’t change. If we’re not led by the Spirit, if we don’t hear God, we’re going to fail in what really matters. If I’m not accustomed to hearing God and I sit at home until I “hear God” about what I’m supposed to do with my evening, what happens? Nothing, right? So you either learn how to hear God and begin to venture out in that …or you sit there and do nothing. You skip the whole process, zone out and become a couch potato in someone’s living room. Or you “busy” yourself and end up killing yourself because of being so shallow. You end up frustrated, unfulfilled, and awkward. I highly recommend that you learn how to hear God and be willing to fail in the process. Failing in the middle of trying is better than pretending and putting a bunch of props in place. When you do that, you’ll feel awkward, frustrated and shallow and make other people feel that way too.
The same is going to be true in educating our children. There is a risk involved. If you pull the props away, then you have to think. Not only are you calling the children to think, but you have to think too! If I don’t trust myself to know how to think—to be able to hear the Spirit—then I’ve locked myself up. I’ve put myself in a situation where I either learn…or I die. And other people will die with me. And since I don’t want that to happen, I’m tempted to run back to the props. That’s the battle of life! That’s what life is all about—learning how to be like God. Learning how to be led by the Spirit, how to move ahead and to not depend on ourselves, how to hear God and not depend on props.
It’s a learning process, for sure. It’s not, “Oh, I get it. I’ll start doing that tomorrow.” It’s a process of sowing seeds in your heart and trying to help your child understand the world around him. You’re not just trying to accomplish a checklist that some government school has given you. Instead, you’re helping your child see God through geometry, through electronics, through word crafting, and through other areas of life. Volunteering yourself to this process of learning yourself and of helping your child to be a learner, requires something of you. It requires something way beyond reading the textbook 10 minutes before you read it to your child. Does that sound familiar? : ) It’s a test, but it’s an opportunity to grow—for us and for them.
For The Young Ones…Take Responsibility
Please don’t think in your minds, “The adults that are helping to educate me are going to do things differently now.” You need to consider, that the ones who have been spiritually successful in life are those who have taken responsibility, themselves, to grow spiritually. They didn’t wait on someone to do it for them. The same is true with your learning. Those who have taken responsibility are the ones who have been successful in life—holding and excelling on the job, creating jobs for others, making a decent living for their family. Someone else can spend the same number of hours, but be miserable and unable to even make a decent living. If you want the qualities that will enable you to work hard with your hands and make a living and provide for others around you, then take responsibility to get there! It’s your responsibility—not your mom’s or dad’s, or anyone else’s. The responsibility is yours to pick up an encyclopedia when you have a few extra minutes and read about that unfamiliar idea or place or thing that someone mentioned. It’s your responsibility to educate yourself—to learn everything you can learn in every area of life. That’s your responsibility. The adults and parents’ job, is to make sure you have all the tools you need (and they need) to learn. But it’s your responsibility to be mature enough to decide that you want to learn, and to be respectful and desirous of learning. You’re going to have a good work ethic, you’re going to care, you’re going to pursue answers and ask the right questions of the right people. Those are choices you have to make.
All these things are true spiritually, too. You’ll not amount to anything if you don’t have that same attitude about spiritual things. YOU can decide that you’re going to learn, you’re going to grow, and you’re going to change. You’re not going to wait for someone to convince you for the fourteenth time about an area you need to change. You’re going to pursue it yourself. You’re going to find out and go after it and discover for yourself what Jesus has said to you about your life.
We know of a 15-year-old young man who was playing football one day—just a simple little family game of football. He was running for a pass when he tripped and hit the ground and never got back up again. He died, and to this day, they still don’t know why. You have to understand, that when you go out to pass a football or play basketball in the backyard, it may be the last time you ever play. Your friend may go out for a run or take a trip in the car and it may be the last trip he ever takes. That’s the nature of life—you must understand.
Whether young or old, all of us have a responsibility ourselves to find God and to go forward in life—to take responsibility for our own lives and as many other lives as we can help. In the end, every person will stand alone before God. If you’re 14 years old right now, you may have never stood alone before anyone! You’ve not felt what it’s like to stand all by yourself in front of someone you don’t know very well and explain something. But the truth is, you could be standing alone before God 15 minutes from now! And no one will be there to explain for you. All of us are old enough and mature enough to take responsibility for our lives. Whatever help others may give us is wonderful. But we need to take responsibility for our own lives—to find God, and His will for our lives and respond to Him ourselves, from the heart. We’re grateful for all the help we can get, and we want to give all the help we can. But in the end we’ll stand alone before God. It’s time to be thinking that way.
The same is true for education. I’ve talked to several young men about the fact that if they function in a sloppy, irresponsible way—the way they are right now—they’ll be fired from their job someday. An incomplete project is not acceptable. If you give your word that you’ll finish some work for someone, you cannot be incredibly slow about it—finish the job! You can’t piddle around with your “personal” time and desires either.
I know of someone who was fired for using a computer for personal use during some “spare” time on his job. His boss walked up and said, “Is that personal business? Clean out your desk.” Life is like that. It’s very important that we not view ourselves as a mass of humanity—all of us as one big lump of people and “I don’t really have to be responsible.” But you do! You really need to think about who you are, and what you are doing. You need to take responsibility to finish a task properly and on time. You need to care about people, and love them.
Like when you blow it…you need to face God directly and explain yourself. You need to ask Him for direction and tell Him face to face that you’re sorry—one on one between you and God. “I’m sorry God.” Not just, “Oh, I wish I hadn’t messed up.” That’s not taking responsibility. Taking responsibility is to look God in the eye and say, “I am sorry, God. That was wrong, and I don’t want that to happen again. Please help me.” And we’ll face other people too. We’ll look an adult or brother or sister in the eye and say, “I am sorry. That never should have happened that way—I was wrong to do that. With God helping me, it won’t happen again! I am very sorry and I need your help. Will you forgive me?”
As individuals we must have that sort of clear thinking. We’ll take responsibility for our own lives, our own education, our own spiritual growth and go forward aggressively, from the heart. Of course, we’ll get help when we need it—that’s the nature of the Church. It’s wonderful that God has given us each other. But in the end we stand alone before God.
So if you’re wondering about the details of educating the children, remember that this is a growth process. This is an opportunity and an encouragement to stretch and grow and to keep awakening ourselves. We’ve grown in some ways, and in His grace, God intends to bring us to a new level of Life and Understanding. The rabbis taught one way and then Jesus came into the world and taught a whole new way! In a short amount of time, He accomplished ten thousand times more than they ever would have! It isn’t that the rabbis weren’t trying to create knowledgeable, God-fearing people—they were! But they didn’t approach it the right way. JESUS APPROACHED IT THROUGH LIFE!! “The life became the light of men.”
That’s really what we are saying about any area of life—“spiritual”, or so-called “academic”. “The life became the light of men.” It’s really all spiritual, if taught correctly. So keep your eyes open. Don’t segment your lives into different areas—keep on learning how to incorporate God’s Way of Life into every area of your life. It’s an exciting journey!
If we keep our eyes open and our hearts soft, we’ll be much better off, five years from now. By God’s grace He will keep showing us and teaching us. More and more we’ll be aliens and wayfarers in this world, stranger and stranger creatures to the world around us. But in the end they’ll grab our cloaks and say, “You know the way…please show us.” In the end God will have a people that are soft enough to hear His voice and learn His ways and that stand very far apart from the patterns of the world. The masses of society and the so-called intellects and rulers of this present age will come to us asking for help and guidance as the darkness settles into the earth. There is but One Light, and His name is Jesus—living in those who follow Him. This is important. It has much to do with our futures and the end of the age.
Question: I’ve been thinking that this is really a great adventure—doing things God’s way. For my daughter, it’s been natural since the time she was born to show her and teach her. From the start, it’s “This is yellow and this is blue. What’s that color, over there?” I never had a time where I thought, “Now’s the time to get a preschool book.” It just happens in life, along the way or at McDonald’s or wherever. She’s only 2 now, but as we’ve been talking, I’ve been wondering how it will look when things are not as simple, like geometry-type questions. Talking about pi in the midst of life seems more difficult than one plus one is two! I haven’t wanted any kind of school “technique” now, and I don’t want one later on either. So what will it look like?
You can teach in a sterile environment, or it can be that as you’re filling up your gas tank, you ask your child, “If the tank is perfectly round, how many gallons of gas can it hold? How do you know?” There are many real life situations like that, so keep your eyes and ears open! But there’s one other very important and helpful thing we can be teaching the children in terms of how to think. It will affect and change their lives and give them much success in their jobs, no doubt (remembering of course, that any advancement on the job is dependent on God’s sovereign purposes for us as well). It has to do with preparing their lives with learning critical thinking. It’s very much a part of life and a person will not be elevated into a place of stature in the workplace, without learning the process of critical thinking. I dare them to advance themselves in any particular career without it. For example, do you know how to evaluate why a contract or warranty is written the way it is? Why is the small print there? What does it mean and how do you interpret it? Those kinds of questions can easily be asked of the children. Many, many opportunities come up where you can have them read something, and then ask them why it was written the way it is. “What was the meaning and the motive of the person who wrote that? I’m not asking you, ‘What does it say?’ I’m asking you, ‘What was their motive?’ What are they saying that they are not telling you?” That’s an extremely important part of life.
When your boss reviews your work and tells you what he thinks, do you believe everything he says? Why is he telling you what he is? What’s his intention? What is he leaving out? Asking those questions and pursuing the answers is an extremely important part of life. Take salesmen, for example…they need to ask the questions that others don’t ask. They need to give answers to questions that weren’t asked but should’ve been. They need to be able to look around and perceive the needs that haven’t been noticed yet. A good salesman sees beyond the obvious, while the salesman who barely makes quota, doesn’t. The point is, the main thing we want to do is to teach our children how to think, how to ask the right questions. The other things tend to work themselves out—like the specifics of teaching the children about trigonometry or geometry.
So let all of this stir your interest and creativity. Help the children and one another along in this process of learning how to think. We don’t want them to just learn how to “repeat information” they’ve been given—we want them to think! “So where did ‘pi’ come from, anyway? What is it? Why is it? Develop the formula.”
As a reminder, we are not talking about learning to be thinkers because we want to be successful in the world’s eyes. Thinking critically is a way to live! It’s a key, along with humility and consecration to God, of course. And that humility and consecration springs from having hunger, desire and fervency. I doubt you would find a man that’s been successful in God’s sight who doesn’t have the qualities of pursuit and fervency and energy towards knowing why, knowing how. It’s an energy that gets past the obvious into questions that haven’t been asked. Like Moses… “Show me your face, Oh God!” And Peter… “Tell me to come to you, Master, on the water.” That’s the sort of attitude we need to cultivate in ourselves, in each other and in our children.
“Thomas, why didn’t you ask to get out of the boat and walk to Jesus?” Why didn’t Thomas, or John or James for that matter, ask to do that? The answer is a very important key to why Peter had a more preeminent place in God’s work than those other men. So please stir these things within yourself, in one another and in your children—in every area of life. Don’t segment the spiritual from the academic, because you won’t be able to do it! If you’re going to be lazy and structured and depend on crutches in the so-called “academic” area of life, you’ll be that way in spiritual matters. You’ll not be able to stimulate your children or friends very well in the spiritual areas, because the “spiritual” and the “academic” are not separate—they are really the same thing.
Explore, Flourish, Excel!!
Question: Some children are “wired” toward absorbing information quickly, restating it, and even bringing it to life. Others are pulled like magnets to saws and hammers and have absolutely no desire toward learning about how some social situation impacted America. I can see how important it is that the one who grasps information quickly needs to learn how to pick up a hammer. And the one who picks up the hammer needs to learn certain things about the world. So how do we take into account the different gifts, talents and “wirings” of the children? Should we push them in the areas they flourish in, but expect less in the areas that they don’t? What should our expectations be? I think of Thomas Edison who may genuinely have failed the GED, yet he had a tremendous impact on America!
One thing we need to shake free of is the pride that’s attached with high school and college graduation. It’s so built into our nature that it’s a “mark of success” to have this degree or these letters after your name. That’s what we’ve been told, but it hasn’t been that long in human history that those benchmarks of so-called “success” even existed! Think about it! They weren’t considered valid measuring rods of anything until the most recent generations. We’ve been fed this bill of goods, this lie, that high school and college are IT, and everything is supposed to move toward that end. But we know plenty of people that have accomplished an extreme amount!
Many wonderful things have happened in the business world and otherwise—without all the so-called benchmarks of high school or college diplomas. We’ve been told that these are very important things, but when it all shakes down, the world knows better than that. In fact, those papier mache “accomplishments” are going to be valued less and less as time goes on, compared to the Real world accomplishments.
So yes, it’s Right that we should find the particular areas of interest and talent in the children and really encourage them (and others too!) to explore those areas. Other areas of discipline shouldn’t be neglected in the process, of course. That would be foolish to think that because we’re interested and good in one area that other areas don’t matter. The discipline of learning other things will actually maximize the areas we excel in.
There is a brother who had much success in the area of mechanical design at a certain top-notch company, but it wasn’t just because of his technical ability. He also had the ability to communicate. He needed to write papers about his work and persuade his boss about projects he wanted to do. Communication, persuasive skills, grammar and spelling are necessary in any field of endeavor, on any spectrum, whether it’s land development or robotics design or whatever. Many areas are woven together and things like literature feed the ability to craft with the human language. The children will get what they need, because all of it is so very interrelated.
We don’t have to be jammed into a Play-doh mold-maker so we come out in the form of someone else’s design. As far as the specific state laws? Your children should be learning far more than what is “required.” And if you can demonstrate the brilliance of a child in one particular area in a court of law, the prosecutor would be hard-pressed to make a case for the child missing a few hours of something else. Who’s going to prosecute a child who stands in front of the UN and gives an address? If a child has a level of competency in one area, it doesn’t much matter, how much he or she’s done in another. And really, all of the different areas weave together. The child couldn’t possibly excel in just one area without working in the others to some degree.
So yes, we should look at each child and their particular “wiring”, their giftings and their desires. Their lives can be built around the things that are most important, as opposed to what the government sausage processors want us to do. It is possible to satisfy the government, and still maximize the individuality of what God has for each child. It’s like Paul very clearly said about those in the church, “All do not have the gift of...” To expect that “everyone must have the gifts of_____,” is unfair and it makes for poor and miserable Christians, from an execution standpoint. They won’t thrive in life if they’re cut from a cookie cutter mold like everyone else. So give some creative thought to where the children are going, on an individual basis. They’ll need the tools you give them, to maximize their efforts and they’ll need the guidance in the disciplines to help them get there.
A Great Adventure : )
It’s a Journey—an Adventure, isn’t it? It’s nothing to panic over. Five years from now, God can have you living in a totally different dimension. That’s kind of fun to think about! You have to start somewhere, so why not here? A shaking, frustrating, uncomfortable stage is good for us. Ninety-five percent of what you hear could just be wonderful to you, but 5% of it may be frustrating and irritating to you. That’s good, because we’re not doing our job if there isn’t a “5%” that bugs you and grates you. Maybe you think the 5% is something you can live without and it doesn’t apply to your situation. But truth be told, that 5% is your key to the future! If you don’t have things that throw you to your knees and frustrate and irritate you and hang heavy over your head, then you’ll never become the person God wants you to be. It’s the hard and grating things, the frustrating and confusing things that actually make us who God wants us to be. The stuff we agree with—“I already knew that,” “I can learn that,” “I can do that,”—doesn’t change us. But the stuff that hurts us… now that changes us. Hopefully something here has “hurt” a little and makes you feel inadequate. That’s the stuff that will make your future! Sow those seeds, pray over them, and water them with your perspiration and your tears. Really ask God to make it real in you… be helping others… and ask Him to help others too.
This isn’t a big radical revolution and a “new way” to do things. What we’re really saying is to open your eyes, ask God to give increase, sow the seeds deeply, and care. Pursue and let God expand your own heart and mind so you can help others expand their hearts and minds. It’s a living, organic way of life, not a new “thing” devoid of externals.
It’s been said many times before, “If you get a “thing” out of this, you haven’t gotten a thing out of it!” This happens so often in the religious world, “Oh, I know. We won’t have a building or a budget now. We can copy this new way to have ‘church.’ It’ll be great!” No it won’t. It will be a miserable failure because what God wants for us, comes from loving each other and applying His word in our own lives and the lives of those around us. You don’t do that by pressing a button. There’s no “new way to have church”. It is individuals that have decided to love others more than they love themselves and they’ve decided to love God and obey His commands. They’ll do whatever it takes, to the point of death, to help others live for Jesus, too. You can go ahead and say, “Here’s a new way to have church,” but you’re only fooling yourself because you can’t hang a skeleton and then pump life into it. First comes the life—the form comes out of that. You don’t create the form and then try to pump life into it.
How true for teaching our children, too! It’s not, “From now on we’re going to do this instead of that.” You’ll be trying to make a “new way to have school” and that ain’t it!! Don’t expect life to come out of it, because it’s really the other way around. Expand your heart, and your prayer life, and get some calluses on your knees. Love your children more, love others more, listen more, care more. Allow these seeds to grow in that environment and the form will take care of itself. It’s not a “new way to have church.” It’s not “a new way to have school.” It’s a desire to love God more, love others more and to be more like God in our daily activities and the way He lives. The rest will take care of itself. It is truly, a Great Adventure!