Do you understand the temptation of good things? As we walk through our Christian life, most of us agree that we are often tempted. As a “mom of many,” I struggle with the temptation to be angry and not patient and kind. I struggle with a temptation to be lazy in discipline, selfish, and critical. We agree that these sins are all wrong, bad for ourselves, our husband, and our children. But the greatest temptation I face day-in and day-out is the temptation to do good things.
If I may point out a personal strength, I am a fairly effective teacher. Beyond my experience homeschooling my own ten children, I have a degree in education and have taught in multiple classrooms situations for a variety of age levels. My teaching style, my classroom management, and the information I have gleaned over the years would benefit our local homeschooling co-op. Teaching homeschoolers is a good thing.
I handle the Word of God with accuracy. I have a great deal of experience leading small groups and discipling women one-on-one. As my children grow, my schedule becomes more flexible. Teaching a ladies Bible study is a good thing.
After owning Homeschooling Today magazine and writing a kindergarten through eighth grade curriculum for several years, I can bless new homeschooling moms with my curriculum ministry. I could travel and speak at conventions and conferences, I could expand our Organic Homeschooling business to free mothers from the tyranny of trying to do it all, do more, and idolize academic excellence. A homeschooling ministry is a good thing.
Good things are the greatest temptation I face. If I choose good things, I will be distracted from the most important things, the primary ministry God gives to me. And I won’t even know it has happened.
When we sin, we (rightly) feel guilt. The guilt drives us to repentance. When we do good things, instead of realizing that these good things distracted us from the most important things, we feel, well, good about ourselves. For example, the mother who prepares and teaches the local co-op cannot measure the missed opportunities for discipling her children that she forfeited. Unfortunately, we mothers are often blind to how our “ministry” and “service” hamstring our primary calling to disciple our children.
Jesus places disciples right in our laps, literally (at least, He will if we gladly welcome them and don’t try to prevent Him from giving them to us). We set them aside and go looking for different disciples because it feels spiritual to do so.
I know why this temptation is so strong for me. Outside ministry feels much better than parental discipleship. Teaching and training your children is hard work. You don’t know how selfish, how sinful you are until you are a parent. Bearing, nourishing, and raising children is by far the hardest work I have ever done and it doesn’t always showcase my strengths. I would rather speak to a thousand homeschoolers than potty train a toddler. I would rather lead a homeschool science co-op than teach my late bloomer to read. And I’d rather write and blog about homeschooling than train my eight-year-old how to properly clean a toilet.
But it is through potty training, teaching reading, and training in household chores that I disciple my children. This is where they learn discipline, perseverance, obedience, gratitude—as we walk along the way together.
The Church doesn’t need more Bible studies or discipleship programs; the Church needs parents who disciple their children. Can you imagine the growth of the Church, numerically and spiritually, if parents welcomed as many children as God would send and then put their time and energy into bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? (At this point, I could go off on a tangent about the way the homeschooling movement is redefining discipleship as “academic excellence” rather than spiritual maturity. Our scope and sequence should be guided more by the qualification for deacons and elders and a whole lot less by what universities require, but that another topic for another day.)
Mothers, what good things draw your attention away from the best things? What distractions can you minimize or eliminate to bring your heart and mind back to your children and home? What temptations do you face in your own home through virtual opportunities—Facebook, blogs, forums—that draw your attention from your children? In what ways have you succumbed to the tyranny of the good and missed out on the blessings of the best? It may not be the easiest path, but discipling your children is by far the best use of your time.