This is a guest post by Emily Guyer.
I will never forget the first night I held my daughter in my arms.
After friends and family had come and gone, it was just the three of us—my husband, my daughter and me. In the dimly lit and quiet hospital room, I was lying in the bed studying the face of my swaddled baby girl. I leaned over to the table next to the bed and played Keith and Kristyn Getty’s song “A Mother’s Prayer” on my iPhone. The lyrics gave words to the tangled emotions in my heart as it expressed a prayer for her daughter to grow up in godliness. I gazed with deep affection at my little girl and began to sing along softly. I was full of purpose and anticipation. “What would the Lord do through her for his Kingdom?” I wondered.
However, as a line of the chorus rang out, an unexpected gripping fear also entered my heart. The words of the song invited the child to take hold of her mother’s hand to find the way to go. The mother promised that she would lead her daughter through the trials of life and towards the Savior. I sang at a whisper with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I could barely make it to the end of the line without realizing how weighty the responsibility and calling of motherhood is. It almost took my breath away. How was I supposed to be the mother and teach this newborn baby the way through all of the decisions and storms of life?
Many of you have prayed a similar gospel-saturated prayer over your child … and many of you have also experienced the same fears and insecurities that I have in this journey of motherhood.
There are so many decisions we face in raising our children. We constantly assess what is good, better, and best for them—sleep training, feeding, disciplining, discipling them, developing their giftings, and schooling.
Schooling is the crossroads I am now facing. It has been a little over four years since that night in the hospital, and my husband and I are considering what will we do for school for our daughter. Public school? Charter school? Private school? Homeschool?
The reality is that this issue is a matter of Christian liberty, and there is no right answer. While there are poor motives and sinful reasons that can make a person’s choice wrong, it is likely that gospel-centered families walk through the process of the decision-making and end up with different solutions.
There are a lot of wise people who have spoken on the topic of education in a gospel-centered home, and I know as a mom who is just beginning the journey of schooling, my thoughts are simply just that—thoughts, not experiences. However, I have found that a helpful principle in my own decision-making process is to think through the lens of biblical stewardship while gazing closely at the mission of God.
Stewardship is the responsibility assigned to an individual to wisely manage the particular resources she's given. Each of us have received an assortment of gifts to steward for the Kingdom of God, and these gifts are not for our own benefit. They have been distributed to us from God primarily for the benefit of others.ⁱ
As parents, our children are some of the most precious gifts that we have been entrusted to steward and love, not use or keep for ourselves. The personalities, giftings, strengths, weaknesses, and passions of our children are no accident. God has a plan for them and a work he wants them to do in his Kingdom. However, before that day, there is work we must do with the help of the Spirit. The soil must be prepped. We, as parents, are asked to roll up our sleeves in love and humility and labor towards two hard tasks: (1) help them know and follow Christ, and (2) help to cultivate in them the God-given gifts that he wants to use.
We are intended by God to be a “principal, consistent, and faithful tool” in God’s hands for the “purpose of creating God-consciousness and God-submission” in our children.² We are primary disciplers of our children. We are called to disciple them in the word of God and send them into the world to live on mission for God.
Many homeschool parents philosophically believe that it is best to equip and disciple their children during the early years of their life at home and then send them out into the world. On the other hand, public school parents perceive it is helpful to disciple their children with real-life experiences as they are being exposed to the world in public school. However, with either philosophy, both parents are called to disciple their children and send them into the world as a light of the gospel. We must be careful, as parents, to honor one another in light of this truth: we are laborers in the field together working towards the same goal.
Christian parents also have the important role of stewarding our children’s gifts and equipping them to contribute as meaningful members of society. As we consider our school choices, we must consider which option will best equip our children academically, socially, and emotionally. This is a complicated facet of the conversation.
Not all families have access to quality education. Single mothers and dual income families are not able to pursue certain schooling options. Some parents will place high value on educational achievement while others will esteem community involvement. Some children will thrive in a public school system while others will need more-focused attention than what a large classroom provides. We must know our children, our circumstances, our giftings, and our passions, and walk forward with open hands and humble hearts.
With these complex aspects of a decision, a gospel-centered parent may find it difficult to navigate which option is best for faithful stewarding of their child. We can glean insight and wisdom from the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25. In the parable, the master entrusts his servants with varying amounts of money, and upon his return, he praises the servants who invested their talent yielding growth. Yet, he condemns the servant who out of fear, buried his talent so as to not lose it.
It was not the method or the amount of growth that was praised, but the faithfulness to steward the gift. As moms, we can find so much freedom in this. However, this parable warns us against allowing fear to hinder our stewardship of our God-given gifts.
Fear can manifest itself in any mother’s heart on any side of the conversation about schooling. I really get it. I felt deep fear the first night of my daughter’s life, and I feel it even now. Politics. Violence. Sexuality. Division. Distortion. The world is definitely not the same as when we were children, but we trust an unchanging and faithful God who is still on the Throne. We must find comfort in who he is and commit to do the hard work of planting our children to grow—whether that is in public school, private school, or homeschool—rather than burying them to keep them safe.
The song I sang over my daughter on her first night concludes powerfully. The mother in the song prays for point in her daughter’s life where she can no longer go alongside her. One day, sooner than she realizes, the Lord will take her daughter on a new journey. He will unfold his purpose in her life. The mother vulnerably prays that the Lord would not allow her own mistakes to hinder her sweet girl, but instead that God’s grace would be the very force that sustains her, draws her near to himself, and leads her along the way.
As I send my precious girl into our nearby public school this fall, I know that I will be scared and choking back tears. This song will be playing in my mind like a desperate prayer. If you’re in Ann Arbor and reading this, come find me at a local coffee shop and sit with me that morning. No matter the choice you or I make regarding schooling for our children this fall, we both need each other for encouragement and the grace of God to sustain us as we plant our children in the harvest fields of the Kingdom of God.
- 1 Peter 4:10; Rom. 12:4-6
- Paul Tripp, Parenting, p.30
Emily Guyer and her husband Michael live in Raleigh, NC, with their twirly and delightful daughter Amelia. She is a work-at-home mom, graphic designer, disciple-maker, coffee-guzzler, and soon-to-be church planter’s wife in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She has the privilege of creating and writing at Words Worth Noting alongside her dear friend Lauren Weir. Her biggest passion is to see Jesus Christ worshiped to the ends of the earth, making her deepest prayer that He will use every sphere of her life for that purpose. | Instagram: @emilyguyer | Website: wordsworthnoting.com and emilyguyer.com