Home School Court Report
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Vol. XXV
No. 3

In This Issue

The Last Word Previous Page Next Page
by J. Michael Smith
Evaluating Success

This issue’s cover story features longtime leader and speaker Gregg Harris, whose early Homeschooling Workshops inspired thousands of families to begin homeschooling and many state homeschool organizations to launch annual state conferences. HSLDA’s appreciation for Gregg led us to name our annual award to an outstanding state leader the “Gregg Harris Award.”

Gregg and his wife, Sono, have also been outstanding homeschooling parents, as evidenced by the accomplishments of their grown sons, Josh, Alex, and Brett. However, I’m sure Gregg and Sono would be the first to tell you that they are not the perfect homeschool family, and that God’s grace has played a major role in their child rearing and home educating.

HSLDA / Art Cox
J. Michael Smith, President, Home School Legal Defense Association

Some of you may feel far from perfect because your children don’t appear to be achieving the same results as other homeschooled children. However, God’s word warns us to avoid comparing ourselves to others. Every child has his own timetable for doing things. Although we may not see our vision for our children fulfilled right now, we must walk by faith, not sight.

In my talks to beginning homeschooling parents, I encourage them to draft a mission statement. Putting a homeschool program’s goals into writing helps parents recognize that homeschooling itself is not the goal. Our children will become adults, and it is our responsibility to prepare them for adulthood. Therefore, we need to consider our goal or vision for our grown children, and then design a program to meet that goal.

Many member families would say that they desire their children to love God all their lives, with all their hearts, and to seek to please Him. Additionally, they desire their children to become loving parents and involved citizens.

In 2003, HSLDA commissioned the largest research survey to date of adults who were home educated. Based upon the results of the survey, homeschooling parents are doing an outstanding job of raising their kids! Seventy-one percent of the homeschool graduates participated in some form of community service activity, compared to 37% of U.S. adults their age, and 88% were members of an organization such as a church or union, compared to 50% of their peers. Seventy-six percent between the ages of 18 and 24 voted within the last five years (compared to 29% of their peers nationwide).

How about their view of life? Fifty-nine percent of the graduates reported they were “very happy” with life, with another 39% declaring that they were “pretty happy.” Ninety-five percent were glad they were homeschooled, and 82% said they would homeschool their own children.

Although your kids may not appear to appreciate what you are doing today, one day they will likely rise up and bless you by saying, “Thank you for homeschooling me.”

Are you still struggling as you look at your own children? Are you wondering if all your work and sacrifice is in vain? Let’s put on some different glasses and look at I Corinthians 15:58. Here Paul explains to the believers in Corinth how to judge the success of any endeavor: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

You are probably saying, “Okay, Mike. I already knew that and I appreciate your reminding me, but how do I know that my efforts will not be in vain?”

This passage says that we are to abound—to be filled to overflowing—in our work for the Lord. Picture a child bounding down the stairway, excited and joyful, in anticipation of the day ahead. (I can hear some of you moms now: “You’re saying I’m supposed to be happy as I homeschool? You must not have done much homeschooling in your family.”)

Think of “abounding” as being joyful.

Joy is much more than happiness. Happiness is dependent upon circumstances, but joy is dependent upon a relationship or attitude. The joy of the Lord enables us to “abound” in homeschooling. There will be good days, bad days, and worse days, but through it all, we obtain our strength from knowing that we’re being obedient to God's call. If you can’t seem to get that joy, ask God to give it to you. Joy is something that has to be rekindled occasionally—like love.

The next principle, steadfastness, means being firmly loyal and constant, seeking to do one’s best in the work of the Lord. When we are steadfast, God promises to fill in the gaps. Psalm 127:2 says, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows, for so He gives His beloved sleep.” A paraphrase based on the original Hebrew could read, “While we are asleep, God gives to His beloved.”

The last principle is to be immovable—steady, strong, and uncompromising against the temptation to quit because it is too hard, or we don’t see the desired results, or we’re concerned about what others think, or our children dislike homeschooling.

I Corinthians 15:58 does not say that we are to judge our success based upon the results. God has simply called us to be faithful in doing the work of the Lord, and when we’re doing the work of the Lord, we need to be joyful, immovable, and steadfast. There is no guarantee that because we faithfully do all that we possibly can, our children will turn out as we desire. However, we can know that we have been obedient to God. And that should be our definition for success.

May God bless you as you persevere to follow His calling, even if you’re not seeing the result you’d like to see today. Remember: God writes the last chapter in our children’s stories and, for most of us, that last chapter has not been written yet.