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Character Matters

The whole endeavor of homeschooling involves warfare of a spiritual nature.

Andrea G. Schwartz
  • Andrea G. Schwartz,
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If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point. —MARTIN LUTHER

I can recall reading this quote for the first time. Its message along with the context in which it was being quoted had the quality of a double-edged sword that penetrated deep into portions of my soul. It eloquently described a battle I often found myself in as a homeschooling mom. It brought with it an accompanying conviction that the whole endeavor of homeschooling indeed involves warfare of a spiritual nature.

I began my homeschool journey for good, but immature, reasons. As I gained more knowledge of my faith and experience as a teacher, my reasons matured and the practice got easier. I thus felt like it was going to be smooth sailing from that point on, since all the basics were covered and a good foundation had been laid. After all, I had excellent curriculum, a good schedule, and support from family and fellow believers. What I didn’t anticipate were the battles for the Kingdom of God that would be fought at my kitchen table daily. Battles that would be over the “ground” by what standard we would live: could we keep most of God’s law-word and still be okay with Him, and would we accept His holy standards and views of the way things are and the way things ought to be?

Even after 25 years of homeschooling (am I tenured yet?), the enemy still shows up to challenge me. How? Well, just today during math class I was pointing out an error to my student. She doesn’t like getting her problems wrong (who does?) and snapped at me as I was showing her the mistake. The student of my dreams says, “Thanks, Mom. I appreciate it when you teach me.” The student of my reality sneered and said, “Why do you have to use that tone of voice? Give me my paper back; I’ll figure it out myself!”

You see, I then and there had a choice to make. Do I ignore the insolence and attitude that clearly is a mark of disrespect and lack of honor (violation of Commandment #5) OR do I decide that getting through this math lesson is more important because I have other things (laundry, writing, balancing the checkbook, etc.) to do? Well, the flesh part of me says, Let’s just get through the lesson so that we can be done. The Holy Spirit within me convicts, No, now is the time to address her heart with Scripture and its principles because those are the things that will inform her mind, her speech, and her actions. In other words, this is where the battle was raging today!

Let me assure you that the second way takes much more time and energy to perform — often making it so that my to-do list has many unchecked items at the end of the day. You see, after the reproof comes the teaching, then the reconciliation, and finally the resumption of whatever it was that sparked the incident in the first place. Let me also assure you that each and every time I’m faced with this sort of situation, everything within me wants to take the shortcut approach. However, I’ve learned that character lessons that are overlooked come back to haunt both me and my child/student and will eventually have to be learned anyhow. It’s my position of mother/teacher that overrules my preference as a woman with more things to do already than I have time for that dictates my approach.

In the long run, I’ve received thanks and commendations from my older children/students for having held my ground under such circumstances. They have pointed out that when they entered the workplace, they were in a much better position to submit to authority and have God’s Word come to mind as they were faced with trying situations. In fact, they confide in me (years later, of course) that in the midst of their corrections as students, they were grateful they had a mom/teacher who cared enough to establish the fact that in our home character mattered.