I rarely get weird looks anymore from people when I tell them we homeschool. But saying we aren’t involved in a co-op or some other extracurricular definitely gets me that sideways glance.
It’s almost an unwritten rule in society that we must be busy. Doing all the things.
Everyone says our kids will be deprived or disadvantaged otherwise. After all, it’s not about the quantity of time you spend with them- it’s the quality, right?
In an effort to keep our kids from “being left out” or “falling behind”, or “socialized”, we overstuff our schedules with all sorts of activities.
And then we wonder why we’re grumpy and frustrated and don’t really enjoy parenting.
Meanwhile, we’re constantly short on time and shouting orders at them like a drill sergeant so we can hurry up and get to the next activity on the list.
In this pursuit to enrich our children’s lives, we’re actually doing them a disservice. Their creativity, resiliency, and relationships end up suffering as a result.
And when we place an emphasis on temporary achievements over eternal ones, we show by example where our true value lies.
What the Bible says about putting family first
Family was the very first institution designed by God, way back before sin entered the world. The very fabric of our culture depends on it staying intact.
But if we’re not careful, we walk a fine line of making the family into an idol when we consistently prioritize our commitment to it above our commitment to the church.
We are instructed in Matthew 6:33 to “seek first the Kingdom of God.” Proverbs 3:6 says, “In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.”
During His three-year ministry, Jesus shattered some prevailing notions of what it meant to be part of a family:
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ He replied to him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’ – Matthew 12:46-50
Now, Jesus isn’t saying here that biological family isn’t important. He isn’t dismissing His mother and brothers. What He is doing is making the clear theological point that in the Kingdom of Heaven, the most important family connection is spiritual, not physical.
In Galatians 3:26-29, Paul stresses the importance of faith over genealogy. Regardless of lineage, we are not Abraham’s spiritual children by birth, but by faith in our Savior.
The physical family is the most important building block to human society, and it should be nurtured and protected. But more important is that family made up of all people who call upon the Lord to save them.
The Bible’s relationship priorities help us understand that the church—the family of God—is not here to serve the interests of our family, or its preferences, desires, and needs. Rather, our families are here to serve the family of God.
Kingdom Minded Parenting
Jesus also knew that there would be a few times in the life of a believer that he or she would need to choose between God and family. To them He promises, “And whoever has forsaken houses, or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children or lands, for my sake, shall receive many times as much…” (Matthew 19:29)
Notice that in this promise He includes “for my sake.”
Contrary to our intuition, Christ says we must lose our lives to find them. And as we lay down our lives for His sake, He satisfies us with good things.
The same is true for our kids. We must exchange what the world says is best for them, with what God says is best.
By serving God first and not our children, they actually benefit.
It’s good for a child to miss out on music lessons because her family has chosen to save up for an adoption. It’s good for a child to give up being on the team so his family can attend church regularly.
It’s good for kids to forego opportunities from the blue ribbon school district in favor of training in godly character, behavior and wisdom. It’s good for them to skip summer camp to go on a missions trip instead.
It’s good for children to miss out on all kinds of cultural “bests”, in order for families to participate in kingdom-minded activities that glorify God and not their kids.
We have to remember what it is we’re really striving for as Christian parents.
If we want to raise children who will love and serve Jesus, and influence others for the Gospel, we’re going to have to go against the temptation for them keep up with their peers. We have to say no to bending over backwards to make sure our children are happy at all costs.
Our kids might not be like “everyone else”, but you know what? That’s okay.
It’s not for this world that we’re raising them.
When we choose to pass up the great American buffet of options available to our kids in schools, sports and activities, we gain an eternal banquet. One that will satisfy. One that will last.
We need to live for a bigger kingdom than the one inside our own homes. In the end, it’s what’s best for our kids.