My Reputation With God
Educating the WholeHearted Child: Chapter 2 (part 2)
“Here’s the truth: You will never be able to live up to either the real or imagined expectations you place on yourself and your children. Don’t even try! Make it your goal to please God in your homeschool, not other people. If you are truly seeking to please God in all that you do at home, that is the reputation that matters to him and the one that should matter most to you” (page 42).
When I was eleven, my sixth grade teacher sat me down for a conversation that has stuck in my mind ever since. I was upset over a grade I had received (probably an A-, but for a perfectionist that was just painful), and she felt the need to offer some wisdom. She told me that someday my perfectionism was going to catch up on me and cause me a lot of heartache if I didn’t learn relax and have a little grace for myself and others. As I said, her words have stuck with me, and I’m so thankful she took the time to share them, because they have indeed saved me a lot of heartache over the years. The older I got, the more I learned that I was never going to be perfect, and being able to accept that has been important. Even more important was learning that God’s expectations for me are sometimes very different than those I set for myself.
Still, I need reminding of this truth every once in a while, especially when it comes to home education. Not only do I set standards high for myself, but I tend to impose them upon my children as well. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with setting the bar high. It’s just that my tendency is to overlook the things that are truly important as I strive to reach that bar. I get frustrated by Ian’s lack of perfectionism (for instance, wondering why it doesn’t bother him when carelessness costs him a perfect score in an online lesson). Then my own perfectionism starts to kick in and our relationship suffers.
I am thankful for the Clarksons’ reminder that there will always be a temptation to judge myself by standards other than God’s. It is easy to worry about our reputation in other people’s eyes. How do our kids measure up against the neighbor in public school? Why can’t we get our act together the way that other homeschooling family does? We can beat ourselves up over which curriculum we should be using or which subjects we should be covering. There is no end to the standards we can impose upon ourselves, forgetting that the only one we really need to consider belongs to our Lord.
What do I want to be known for? Not for my children’s test scores or their breadth of knowledge on the vast array of subjects I hope we’ll be able to cover over the course of our homeschool journey. I want to known in this way: “Let your reputation be that you are faithful to God, known for ‘good deeds.’ (1 Timothy 5:10), ‘full of the Spirit and of wisdom’ (Acts 6:3), and that you ‘seek first his kingdom and his righteousness’ (Matthew 6:33)” (page 42).
Each Mentoring Monday I share my reflections on what I’ve been learning from my “paper mentors.” I am currently joining in a book discussion of Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson (with Sally Clarkson). If you want to join in, visit our Facebook discussion group page.