Doing for God?
By Barbara Edtl Shelton
It's easy for homeschoolers to get caught up in thinking that we - our children included ~ just aren't doing enough for God. Especially if we're pursuing a quiet, peaceful lifestyle of staying at home and learning, (rather than running around as much as if our children were in school), our lives are spent mostly at home with our children, we can feel "inactive" for God.?
It's hard to not get caught up in this attitude because it's so prevalent in the church today. We can easily get the impression ~ if we haven't been listening closely to the Lord ~ that constantly doing more, more, more for God is the standard to which we should all be aspiring, if indeed we are true Christians.?
One homeschool mom shared the following concern on an on-line email loop:? "My 11-year-old son expressed a concern (during one of our youth group meetings) after everybody gave a prayer request at the meeting for some of their lost friends at school. My son said 'I don't have anybody I can witness to because we hardly go out.' "? I hope I can offer a bit of encouragement to those who share this boy's sentiment, and to anyone else struggling with this, as something similar happened to us...?
Our son, Tory (18), was recently interviewed for a Christian sports magazine article here in our home. (It's just a small, local magazine, but is very well done.)? I asked if I could sit in on the interview, and was granted permission from both the interviewer and the interviewee.??? :-)?? Tory isn't the most verbacious conversationalist (though very pleasant; and he's greatly improved since then!), so I thought I might be able to help bring out the good stuff in him that I knew was there, but that the interviewer wouldn't have any way of knowing.? Indeed that happened, though Tory ended up talking far more than I had thought he might!?
The man, who produces the whole magazine himself (interviewing, writing, publishing), and who is a precious Christian brother, asked Tory several questions about himself and his life. I thought Tory gave great answers and a very good "overall picture" of a growing Christian guy who loves Jesus. Then the interviewer asked him: "So, what are you doing for God?" I kept calm on the outside, but inside I thought: "Wasn't everything Tory just shared in this conversation an answer to that question?!"?
For my son's sake, I kept my mouth closed, but I wanted to give the interviewer a little lesson right then and there about "seasons" and what serving God really means! Instead, you and Tory get to hear my heart on this. I believe it's vital that homeschoolers get a grip on this area ~ it's one less thing to burn out on!
It's actually very simple... Look at Jesus' life. When did He start his public ministry?? I've always wondered why He waited till He was thirty years old. I mean, just think of all the wonderful things Jesus could have done for God and man if only He'd started in His youth?!?!? What was the Father thinking?!?!? Well I can't answer that, but I can guess. He was allowing His son time to be prepared.?
All we know about Jesus' childhood is that, after the mix-up at the Temple, He went home "and was subject to His parents, and grew in wisdom and stature." Now it's true that the Father probably knew-? what am I saying?!? Of course He knew ahead that Jesus' ministry would be so radical, so upsetting to the Jews, that Jesus would be able to last only a short season on earth. The sword that He came to bring between "father and child,"? "mother and daughter" etc. certainly made it hard for Him to live long in the culture in those times. (He lasted three years back then; I doubt He would have lasted a day in our culture!) So his ministry was short but sweet ~ sweet, at least, to those who loved Him. But back to the matter of "doing for God"...?
If the Father's priority was to have Jesus DO as much as possible while on earth, surely He had it within His power to have Jesus out doing a lot of good stuff for God long before age thirty. Jesus once said, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to accomplish His work."?
The Father did not have Jesus out doing a lot of good stuff publicly (though I'm sure His home and neighborhood were full of good works and fruit) because the Father had a certain focused purpose for Jesus' life. Even though Jesus was perfectly capable of more, and certainly available, the Father evidently didn't have Jesus starting up this or that neighborhood ministry. I doubt that Jesus had a lot of major projects going on, or I'm sure they would have been written down in the Word.?
If all Jesus did "was [be] subject to His parents" and "grow in wisdom and stature," then what was He "doing for God" before His public ministry began? He was doing exactly that! Walking in quiet obedience to his parents, and thereby also to His heavenly Father, in preparation for the Bigger Purpose which was to come later, at the Father's appointed time, once Jesus had developed the "wisdom and stature" that would be needed to "do the will of Him who sent [Him] and to accomplish His work."
I believe that we ~ ourselves and our children ~ will be led into doing plenty of witnessing, when it is the appointed time and place, and when doing so will not run the risk of our children losing their own faith or being robbed of solid growth. Contrary to popular opinion, this kind of growth does not happen quickly, but is slow, steady, and sure. I've seen far too many Christian children who are allowed exposure to many kids and influences at school and in their neighborhoods for the supposed purpose of "ministering for God" and "being a light in the darkness" end up losing their faith ~ their light quenched ~ before they are even out of the house!
Jesus said to Martha when she was busy "doing" for Jesus: "Only one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her." And what is that "better part"?? It is simply to "sit at the Lord's feet listening to what He says."? This is the heart of true education. And if we are attentively "listening to what He says," we won't miss anything along the way if, perhaps, He does happen to lead us to witness or "do" something else ~ in addition to listening and growing ~ for Him.?
Do not allow an unfocused "religious" zeal to "DO, DO, DO for God" rob the "better part" from your child ~ or you. This is not to say we should not be serving others. Several homeschooling families I know help with a gleaning ministry that provides food for the poor in our area; another had a puppet ministry to young children; and another visits nursing homes regularly. As God leads, do! But neither should we get caught up in taking on and laboring under "requirements" laid upon us by a "religious spirit."
So let's not look to "the spiritually spectacular" ~ those works that might make a good impression on others ~ as our standard. Rather, let's focus on diligently sending down strong roots "deep into the soil of God's marvelous love," His Word, and His ways during these formative years of our children's lives, how ever "unglorious" that may appear to others. This, I believe, is the very best thing we, child and parent alike, can be "doing for God" ~ for now.
Copyright by Barbara Edtl Shelton.? This article is used by permission from the author.
Dave and Barb Shelton operate a home-based ministry to homeschoolers from their home in Longview, WA. Barb's heart is to inspire parents to pursue God's unique plan for the education of their children.