“The educational choices of parents is not a matter of theological orthodoxy. So we must be careful not to judge other parents. Instead, we should cultivate a humble spirit about our own decisions and extend grace and love to others.”.1 –Daniel Darling
In I Samuel, a barren woman named Hannah begs God for a child. She also promises that if she has a son, she’ll give him back to God. When God says yes to her. She makes good on her promise.
A creative school choice.
As I was praying for moms all across the world who are living in unusual circumstances, the story of Hannah and Samuel came to my mind today. Can I share a few thoughts as you pray through decisions you may have never imagined making as we approach the new school year?
The choice of education is an important and complicated one during the easiest of times. Many factors contribute to how God leads you to the right decision for your child. The quality of your local public school, your financial condition, your child’s special gifts that need to be nurtured, the educational needs of a child, proximity to options, and the level of commitment you are able to make at differing stages of your life are all considerations that go into building a list of pros and cons. Enter COVID-19 and you’ll need to add in factors like the rate of infection in your county, your governor’s directives, and your child’s personal immune system. Each and every mom is facing challenging decisions right now. Let’s do something for each other as women and take this issue off the list of topics we fight over.
Daniel Darling, vice president of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, says “The unity of the Church is more important than the important (but nonessential) area of education. The educational choices of parents is not a matter of theological orthodoxy. So we must be careful not to judge other parents. Instead, we should cultivate a humble spirit about our own decisions and extend grace and love to others."2
Three Questions That Could Be Tie-Breakers
The COVID-19 school choice test is—like always—one you don’t want to fail. You need to make the right decision for your children. And each one may merit a unique and creative approach this Fall.
Here are three questions to pray through.
Are you teaching your child?
The Bible only uses the word school one time—Acts 19:9. But the word teaching abounds. That doesn’t mean there weren’t schools, but that the biblical texts don’t emphasize schools but rather the teaching that takes place. And here’s the key: the biblical instruction on teaching is addressed primarily to parents, especially fathers. Here’s a sample verse:
These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
It’s obvious that homeschooling is going to score big in this area. Let’s send out an atta girl to our sisters who have chosen this option before it was thrust upon every mom in the Western hemisphere this Spring! (And everyone shouted: Atta girl!!!) But here’s the thing: all educational systems should respect the parent as the leader and ultimate decision-maker in a child’s education. Any system that cuts you out, is not allowing you to do your job of directing and controlling your child’s mental development. Cross it off the list.
Does your child have teachers worthy of emulation?
There are great Christian teachers in all school types. I’m thankful for my sweet seventh-grade art teacher, Faith, whose name punctuated her devotion to God. She got me through public middle school. I wanted to be just like her, and that’s kind of the point of a teacher.
“A disciple is not above his teacher,
but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
Grace Prep, the Christian high school my husband and I founded displays this verse on the school crest:
“But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.”
II Timothy 3:14
The verse is a reminder to our teachers that they should be model-worthy. Does your child have teachers worthy of emulation? If not, re-evaluate and modify as needed.
Does your child have positive peer pressure?
A common myth public school parents embrace is that their child will be strengthened by students whose beliefs and convictions are different. The Bible’s instruction is quite contrary to that line of thinking:
“He who walks with the wise, grows wise; but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20
Does that mean a child cannot go to public school? No. But it does mean you have a responsibility to direct their friendships towards positive influencers.
As you pray through this, if you see that your child doesn’t have wise friends, maybe you need to consider another school alternative. Or maybe you just need to get a little more hands-on. Re-evaluate. Modify.
Let’s get back to the real agenda behind this little blog post: creating some unity and encouragement for moms as you face one of the most important decisions of your children’s lives.
In the most unusual of circumstances, Hannah selects an unprecedented form of schooling when she takes her son to the temple to be taught by Eli the priest. It was a daring choice. A brave one. A courageous, unique, different calling. After praying so hard to become pregnant with this son that she appeared drunk, can you imagine she may have also wrestled deeply in prayer over where to take him to school...how to “give him back to God” as she’d promised in her first pleadings?
I want you to know that God sees your wrestling as you pray about where, how, and when to educate your children. If you have wrestled well, know this: you can’t mess it up. He has that child in the crosshairs of His purpose.
“One preacher imagined that as the Lord watched [Hannah] leave her boy and walk home that he turned to the host of heaven surrounding the throne and said with a catch in his throat: I will not permit this to be forgotten.”
-Pastor Timothy Keller3
“And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.” 1 Samuel 3:19
If you are faithful to give your child to God as you select a school, God will not forget.
Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
This blog is based on a chapter in The 20 Hardest Questions Every Mom Faces by Dannah Gresh.
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1Dan Darling, “Homeschool, Public School, or Christian School?” Christianity.com, http://www.christianity.com/christian-life/education/homeschool-public-school-or-christian-school.html.
2 Dan Darling, “Homeschool, Public School, or Christian School?” Christianity.com, http://www.christianity.com/christian-life/education/homeschool-public-school-or-christian-school.html.
3Hannah’s Prayer, a sermon by Tim Keller on Gospel in the Life