By Patricia Hunter
A copy of 1 Corinthians 13 that had been adapted for homeschooling moms was one of the first resources I discovered for encouragement and inspiration when our family’s homeschooling journey began over twenty years ago. Over the years, I’ve seen several other homeschool mom versions online, as well as those for teachers, policemen, homemakers, nurses, and a variety of other professions. Given a little thought and creativity, we could write one with a frugal twist, as well, as long as the core truth remains: whatever we do, if we don’t do it with love, we may as well not do it all.
There’s no doubt that we all love our children—that isn’t the point. It’s easy to demonstrate our love by playing with our children, telling them we love them, and giving them lots of hugs and kisses. It’s the everyday, all-day long challenge to consistently show it when we’ve had a rough day and our spouse comes home after a hard day at work, and we live with and teach little people who spill paint, lose library books, slam doors, delight in terrorizing their siblings (and pets), and act like they forgot everything we ever taught them—and still expect us to do their laundry and feed them. Heaven knows homeschooling moms need some inspiration here and a plumb line—a picture of what the kind of love that matters looks like—because the truth is that it’s who we are, what we do, and how we respond to life’s challenges and opportunities that makes a greater impact than what we teach.
Our children are watching us. How we live and take responsibility for our growth and maturity while we train and disciple them adds to authority, and Ezra is a good example to follow as we consider who we are and what we do.
Ezra was a Jewish priest and scribe during the reign of the Persian King Artaxerxes—a little more than four hundred years before Christ—when he led a large group of Jews out of Babylonian exile to Jerusalem where he taught them God’s law. In Ezra 7:10, we get a glimpse of how he prepared to teach them: “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach.” In other words, Ezra prepared his heart to teach by first determining to study and put into practice what he had learned before he taught others. Because the Jews knew Ezra to be zealous for the Lord and could see that he was committed to obeying God’s Word, the people listened with respect and responded to what Ezra taught them. His faithful preparation and practice gave weight to his teachings.
Ezra’s example of studying and practicing in preparation for teaching is an excellent one for us to consider as we prepare our hearts and minds to be teachers who make a positive and lasting impression on the lives of our children. We will more likely capture their hearts and minds if they can see us delighting in our own study and growth, as well as watching how we apply what we learn—whether it’s learning ways to save money on our grocery bills or how to practice our growth in our faith.
When we take our personal growth seriously, we allow our hearts and minds to be renewed in ways that love will be manifested in how we respond to the daily challenges and opportunities of being a homeschooling parent. We will love them by praying for and with our children and asking God for the wisdom we desperately need to parent and teach them. We will love them by carefully planning their studies around their individual and unique needs, by giving them the grace to make mistakes and disappoint us, by disciplining them when necessary and then forgiving them and moving on.
No matter how we adapt it, 1 Corinthians 13 gives us the perfect picture of how well we have prepared our hearts—whether we are teaching our children or ministering to the needy. If we’re arrogant, rude, irritable, resentful, or demanding our own way, we know we’ve missed the mark; but if we’re patient, kind, humble, hopeful, and persevering, we can know we’re loving and teaching the more excellent way.
Patricia Hunter lives in rural southwest Florida where she’s a wife, mom, and mimi. A retired veteran homeschooler, Patricia is a freelance writer, photographer, and blogger. You can follow her at PollywogCreek.blogspot.com.