In full disclosure, I have three children that attend a private, Classical Christian school. For those who are unaware, Classical Christian education means that once your children are in fourth grade, you probably won’t be able to help them any longer with their math homework. My kids’ schooling is rigorous, no doubt, but my wife and I are thankful that they are challenged both academically and spiritually.
As a pastor, I have people in my congregation who send their kids to public school. I also have families that homeschool their children. We must be a congregation that is doing something right, because no fights have broken out over the educational choices our families make for their own children.
I am not here to espouse one model over another. In fact, such an exclusionary stance would alienate good families that have prayerfully made decisions they feel are best for their children. There are godly kids who attend public school and there are rotten ones who take Bible classes every day at their private school. No model or methodology ensures iron-clad success.
In Scripture, we find three remarkable women who had extraordinary children. In Exodus 6:20, we read that Jochebed gave birth to Moses. To preserve his life from the infanticidal Egyptians, she hid him and then sent him down the Nile in a basket in hopes that he would be preserved (see Exodus 2).
In 1 Samuel 1, Hannah desired to have a son but was barren. She struck a deal, of sorts, with God. If God allowed her to give birth to a son, she would dedicate him back to the Lord. When God granted her desire, Hannah made good on her promise. She entrusted her son, Samuel, into the care of Eli, the physically and spiritually blind priest who had two unrighteous sons, Hophni and Phinehas.
Then there was Eunice, the dedicated and devout mother of Timothy. While the Apostle Paul would ultimately disciple the half-Jewish, half-Greek convert to Christianity (Acts 16:1-3), we learn that it was his mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, who had taught him the Scriptures from an early age (2 Timothy 1:5, 3:14-15).
In each of these instances, a mother deeply loved her son and wanted what was best for him. When he was rescued by the princess, Moses was undoubtedly educated in the pagan palace of Pharaoh. According to Hebrews 11:23, Jochebed and her husband trusted God to take care of their son, even in the heathen hotbed of Egypt.
Hannah willfully took her son, Samuel, to live under the spiritual care and supervision of ungodly Eli. That boy received a religious education by people who weren’t even walking closely with the Lord.
As for Timothy, we know nothing of his formal training as a child, except that his mother grounded Him in Scripture, perhaps using a vintage flannel-graph pre-electronics.
If we could uproot these families into the American educational system today, we might find Moses attending a public school where he was being inundated with classes on pluralism, gender-fluidity and socialism. Samuel would be attending a private Christian school where the teachers taught that pre-marital sex was wrong unless they could participate. And, though Timothy would attend a homeschool co-op once a week for social interaction, most of the time he’d be in his television-less house under the faithful tutelage of his mother. Three differing styles of education, three boys who grew into godly men.
Here’s a hard truth: We can’t permanently bubble-wrap our children. Our kids will encounter sin and ungodliness sooner or later. They’ll hear about it on public school playgrounds. They’ll read about it on notes passed in Christian school chapels. They’ll even find traces of it in their parents and siblings when they’re at home. You see, Sinfluenza is just as easily passed through locker-room conversations as it is through the words and actions of believers who aren’t controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Yes, we should try to preserve our children’s innocence. Yes, we should do all we can to promote godliness. And yes, we should provide guidance for them as they mature into adulthood. These are the things we do because we love them, we love God, and we love Truth. But like Jochebed, Hannah and Eunice, we must first entrust our kids into the sovereign hands of the Potter. He needs to be the One to shape their values and mold their character, no matter where they are being taught.
As parents, we have the primary responsibility to train our children in the ways of the Lord. Therefore, we can’t be careless in the educational choices we make for our children. Where they go to school and what they learn in those classrooms really is important. But we should also be slow to criticize the choices others make for their kids. Parents who choose a different educational option for their families don’t love their children any more or any less than we do our own.
Whether your kids attend public school, private school, or are homeschooled, they all need to see godliness modeled in the home. They all need to know that Scripture is wonderful and life-changing. They need to see how God is tangled up in our world and how He’s moved throughout history. That’s part of having a well-rounded, Christ-centered education.
So, parents, commit your kids to the Lord like these three, great Hebrew women did. Seek God’s wisdom about what’s best for them educationally. And, of course, pray that God would be your kids’ favorite Teacher. When that happens, His Truth will become the yardstick they use to measure every class they take.