Teaching with an Open Hand

~ by Sarah Mackenzie ~

As a homeschooling mom, I have a tendency to live in my ideals.

I picture myself reading The Wind in the Willows with my children scattered around me, listening contentedly. Or they’re drawing amazing pictures of specimens they found in nature. Or they’re embarking on an awe-inspiring, self-directed project that will impress both my mother-in-law and the schoolteacher living next door.

I have a vision of what our days should look like, and I cling ruthlessly to it, feeling disappointed because it never becomes our reality.

I could call it being a visionary, but I actually think it’s an indication of pride and a lack of humility.

It’s being tight-fisted. It’s failing to see that God is glorified even when the day looks nothing like it did when I mapped it out on paper. I’m so intent on having things go my way that I don’t leave room for Him to turn the whole thing on its head and do with it what He wills.

How do we open our fists? How do we teach from rest, willing to receive anything He hands us?

I love what Jennifer Fulwiler says in Something Other Than God: “The secret to being humble is to be so focused on how you can make other people’s lives better that you don’t care who’s right or wrong.”

In our case, one might say the key to being humble is to be so focused on pleasing God that we don’t care how closely our actual day aligns with our ideals. He takes enormous pleasure in bringing order from chaos, from taking our measly efforts and spinning them into something beautiful for His delight, and it’s our job to let Him do just that.

Diligence matters. Faithfulness over little things matters, too. But the outcome? That is not ours to dictate, though we fall into the trap now and again of thinking otherwise.

We would do well as homeschooling mothers to make “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” a motto we live by day by day, moment by moment, math meltdown by math meltdown.

When we bring our best, let go of control, and refuse to assess our success by how closely our reality matches our initial vision, we homeschool from humility. We don’t care if we are right or wrong or whether our egos are stroked by the brilliance of our teaching—we are focused on how we can serve God alone by serving our families.

We can’t really rest in God’s care until we trust that He will indeed care for us. And that means we can’t teach from rest unless we trust Him with our kids’ education, too.

I am not meant to take on this task of teaching and raising my children in my own strength, and neither are you. We are, however, meant to recognize every facet of our day as coming from the hand of God. It all passes through His fingers first, and He uses it to make sure that we lean hard on Him.

Surrender your idea of what the ideal homeschool day is supposed to look like, and take on, with both hands, the day that it is.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. In our homeschools, every day, all over the world.

Dr. Christopher Perrin is an author, consultant, and speaker who specializes in classical education. He is committed to the national renewal of the liberal arts tradition. He cofounded and serves full time as the CEO/publisher at Classical Academic Press, a classical education curriculum, media, and consulting company. Christopher serves as a consultant to charter, public, private, and Christian schools across the country. He is the board vice president of the Society for Classical Learning and the director of the Alcuin Fellowship of classical educators. He has published numerous articles and lectures that are widely used throughout the United States and the English-speaking world. Christopher received his B.A. in history from the University of South Carolina and his M.Div. and Ph.D. in apologetics from Westminster Theological Seminary. He was also a special student in literature at St. Johns College in Annapolis. He has taught at Messiah College and Chesapeake Theological Seminary, and served as the founding headmaster of a classical school in Pennsylvania for ten years. He is the author of the books An Introduction to Classical Education: A Guide for ParentsThe Greek Alphabet Code Cracker, and Greek for Children, and co-author of the Latin for Children series, all published by Classical Academic Press. Christopher has a passion for classical education and is a lover of goodness, truth, and beauty wherever it is found.