Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. This excerpt from the poem “Only One Life, Twill Soon Be Past” by C.T. Studd was etched into a wooden plaque that hung in my grandmother’s house when I was a child. Long after my grandmother was gone, I discovered that the words were still etched into my memory. They echo the words of James 4:14 (NIV), “. . . What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” We are reminded by James that our lives are short, with no guarantee that we will have a tomorrow, so we must endeavor to make today count and live our lives in light of eternity. I think the same is true regarding the education of our children, as we endeavor to prepare them for a purpose that exists beyond tomorrow.
I remember vividly the day that we set the old school desk in the dining room and filled it with workbooks, colors, handwriting paper with wide lines, new pencils, and other school supplies. The beginning of an exciting adventure and a seemingly endless ribbon of school days stretched out ahead of us. The days passed–both good and bad–and quickly rolled into years; the day I handed a diploma to my youngest to officially mark the end of our journey arrived all too soon. I could not help but wonder that day if I had equipped each of my children with the education and skills they would need to succeed in this world and leave a lasting imprint on the future.
We all want our lives to count for something beyond today, and we want the same thing for our children, but our view is limited to the span of our lives. We cannot know what deed or deeds may impact a future generation and what will simply be forgotten, but we hope that by investing into the lives of our children, we will leave a lasting imprint on the next generation for the betterment of that generation. We hope that they, in turn, will leave an even bigger imprint on the world and the generation in which they live.
I believe it is the duty of all Christian parents to educate their children in the foundations of our faith. As home educators we can teach all subjects from a biblical worldview, but many parents want to give their children more than just a foundation in their faith–they want to equip their children to be future leaders and the world changers of tomorrow. The study of speech, leadership, worldview, and evangelism are excellent subject choices for all young adolescents, and all of these studies help shape who our children are and what they believe. We all–parents and students alike–should understand and be aware of how we view the world (our worldview) and be equipped to assume the responsibility of leadership and defend our faith. We do not know the circumstances in which God may place us at any given point in our lives. When we educate our children with a higher purpose in mind, we try to provide them with the skills and knowledge they might need should God choose to use them in mighty ways. We teach them about other great men and women we hope they will have the courage to emulate, and we encourage them to be prepared to be used by God in a powerful manner.
These are worthy goals. However, we must also remember that God directs the paths of our children, and they must also learn to be ordinary people who live out their lives in the world. We do not know the path that God has laid out before each of our children. We may be teaching and training the next great world leader, but it is also possible that God may not orchestrate events in their lives that would allow them that opportunity. I believe there lies within each of our children the potential to become a daring and mighty man or woman of God who may change the course of history and be remembered for generations to come as a world changer, but as God directs the course of each life, there may not be opportunity to perform heroic feats of faith or to advance to a high position of leadership. Rather, theirs may be the countless little decisions made over the course of a lifetime that silently advance the Kingdom without much pomp and circumstance. So, while we equip our children to be extraordinary leaders, we should also be sure we prepare them to live ordinary lives—lives lived in such a way that the accumulation of a lifetime of choices may leave a lasting impact on the lives of those around them or the next generation to follow them and lives that for all practical purposes may be very simple and ordinary.
I think that sometimes it is easy for us to become so focused on training our children to be extraordinary men and women that we forget to let them know that God uses men and women in all walks of life. They may live out their entire lives as farmers, carpenters, servicemen, or in any countless number of ordinary occupations, and they may never see great evidence of leaving an eternal imprint in this world. So, equip them for the extraordinary, but prepare them for the ordinary.