It has been my observation, after working in the field of home education for over thirty years, that most fathers are not really sure how they fit in the puzzle called home schooling. In fact, a significant number of dads that I have spoken to over the years, do not appear to be persuaded that they even have a primary function in the process of home education.
Fathers who find it difficult to become fully invested in the commitment of home education, commonly struggle for the following two reasons:
1. They still view the education of children as the duty of someone else; i.e. their wife, their pastor, or perhaps the teachers down at the local public or private school.
2. They are reluctant to take part in the home school routine, because it is viewed as simply one more heavy demand upon their already busy schedules.
In regard to the first issue, fathers need to come to the place of seeing that Almighty God has called dads to be directly involved in the training and nurturing of their children. (Ephesians 6:4, Deuteronomy 6:7 and 11:19)
Once this command of Almighty God is taken to heart, then men can also begin to see that when they neglect to provide their children with a Christian education, they have in effect denied the faith and are worse than infidels (1 Timothy 5:8).
The second concern that fathers have that the task of home education will simply take up too much valuable time and resources, is indeed understandable. This perspective, although not unreasonable, is still nevertheless unbiblical. Jesus clearly taught His followers that children are not to be viewed as an annoyance or inconvenience, but rather as the cherished heritage of the Lord. (Note: Mark 10:13-16) Men who are leading households, must come to the place of recognizing that time spent in child training is not only central to their callings as fathers, but is time well spent. The old saying still rings true, that when fathers grow old and are facing death, they will not say, “Oh, how I wish I had spent more time at the office!”
The calling and challenge of Christian home education will indeed force fathers to budget or manage their time and resources well. Being a good steward of a family in general and a home school program in particular, requires that dads avoid committing themselves to jobs that take them far away from their parental duties for extended periods. Obviously, it will only be after fathers begin to take their home responsibilities seriously, that they will be willing to make such sacrifices on behalf of their households.
In cases where home school dads already possess a clear understanding of their duties and priorities, they may still not know the best way to contribute to their families home education experience. One of the most helpful models that fathers can follow to shepherd their families, is the same one that Christ uses to minister to the needs of His church. The three-fold function or offices that Christ exercises over His church are as a Prophet, Priest, and King. In light of the fact that Ephesians 5 directs men to rule over their wives as Christ does the church, it makes perfect sense for husbands to seek to be imitators of God in regard to how they exercise their biblical authority and calling.
So, what does it mean for a home school father to be a “prophet” to his household? The most common act of a prophet in Scripture, was to speak the Word of God to the people. In other words, to plainly declare or teach the Holy Scriptures to those that were under their jurisdiction. Although fathers have many duties to perform, what must be recognized at the outset is that their most important function is to instruct the members of their families in the Word and ways of God. Fathers are called to apply themselves to the study and declaration of biblical truth, so that they may be able to guide their households, including the education of their children, wisely. No home school program is complete and functional, unless it has a head of household in place that is willing and able to dispense true wisdom from God’s Word to those family members who seek it.
The role of a home school dad as priest, points to the sacrificial nature of the mission that all husbands and fathers are called to undertake. The Bible clearly states that the call to leadership demands that those who are over others be willing to serve those under their charge (1 Peter 2:15). Fathers who are in charge of home school endeavors must be willing, therefore, to pour themselves out in service for their families. This involves sacrificing time for field trips, extra household chores, grading papers, and teaching when and where he can. It also means sacrificing that new fishing boat or exotic vacation, so that their school can afford to purchase the resources necessary to operate efficiently.
The third and final part of a fathers role, is that of a king. A home school dad serves as king, when he applies in a firm but loving way the rules that govern their home education enterprise. Fathers must help to bring order, direction, and purpose to his families home school routine. He must be willing to inspect what he expects, and take a pro-active approach to his role as overseer. Too many home schools suffer because absent dads do not provide the accountability that is needed to the process of home education. King dad must ensure that clear goals are established throughout the school year, and that these goals are being pursued diligently. Finally, fathers have the duty to establish a code of honor and discipline in the home, so that each member of the family treats each other in a Christ-like manner. When the king permits his subjects to run wild, it is only a matter of time before this chaos and confusion begins to undermine the teaching process. King dad must do his part, for mothers are simply not called to fulfil the roles of primary teacher, chief administrator, and disciplinarian.
Just because a father may not do the majority of the teaching in a particular home school program, does not mean that he is unable to play a vital role in the weekly routine. Such men, acting to provide for their wives and children, while also seeking to protect them and give them needed accountability, can do a great deal to ensure their success. In addition, when fathers make the effort to call down God’s blessings upon their households through prayer and a diligent study of the Holy Scriptures, they contribute something very special and necessary on behalf of their families.
May Almighty God, who created the family and all wisdom that is worth pursuing, grant fathers the vision and power to assume their proper place within the work of Christian home education.
Copyright 2011 Michael J. McHugh
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