Laboring for Christ
I had an intriguing Labor Day weekend. My husband was out of town for a few days traveling. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and discouraged about all that needed to get done in regards to the ministry we work for and at home, but God gave me such a sweet, personal surprise! A missionary who many, including myself, have deep respect for, happened to be passing through the area and made a last minute request to visit our students and staff. In the time I got to spend listening to him with our team, many things he said struck a chord with me. One comment, however, got me thinking about my children, their education, and how it relates to God’s future plans for their life. The missionary passionately shared of the need for laborers in world missions who know how to labor. Not only is there a shortage of missionaries on the field today, but those who do come struggle to properly labor for Christ. He said the new and young missionaries being sent to the field do not know how to work hard. They are shocked by the many hours missionaries toil for Christ, and only 3% of them make it past a year or two. Commitment, hard work, and longevity are all at risk with the up and coming generations headed to reach the unreached with the gospel.
I left the time with our friend feeling challenged and simultaneously encouraged. Challenged to pray and continue to ask God to send laborers to reach the unreached all over the world with the gospel. Challenged in my willingness to come alongside future generations to prepare and disciple them into all that God is calling them to be in their character, commitment, and competency for their future vocation, including those who will be called into full-time missions. Yet, I was also encouraged, specifically in my heart and mind, for the precious opportunity to homeschool, as I know it is not always possible for families to do so. I am thankful that I have been given this window of time and opportunity, these carpe diem hours, minutes, moments, and years to participate with the grace of God and the work of the Spirit in the lives of my children—leading them, teaching them, training them, and speaking truth over them in their character and calling. Furthermore, I was also particularly encouraged for the opportunity to partake in a collaborative/classical approach to homeschooling. I am grateful that we are learning to work hard and play hard.
I know homeschooling and the classical approach is not the only way God can build a work ethic in our children and us, but it is certainly something He will use, and is using, as we partake in this great endeavor that is this year. And do it He must, because we need more missionaries on the field—great men and women of God who can understand languages quickly and excellently from their years of classical training in Latin, who will work long hours because they learned to study hard and work hard for 15 years in school, and who have been trained in the art of rhetoric; communicating with boldness, persuasion, and creative power. We need great men and women of God who have learned how to think and apply apologetics and theology to all of life, not compartmentalizing the sacred and the secular. We need young men and women of God who will bring the gospel to the lost peoples of the world in every sect of society and culture. We need educators, scientists, doctors, lawyers, coaches, leaders, and most importantly, a generation of parents, who will be set apart in the days to come, not merely by what they know, but by who they are!
To all of us today, my encouragement is to keep that big picture in mind. Think often upon what God laid on your heart when you were led to homeschool, and especially when you were led to use the classical method. For me, this is the big picture I keep returning to. I believe God is raising up a generation of leaders who will be like Daniel of the Bible, spiritual in our secularized world. They will have a spirit of excellence on them, goodwill with men, be hard working, hard praying, and full of the Spirit. Daniels do not come from fluff or suddenly appear. God used Daniel's past, his background, his home, and his character to be one of the most influential figures of the Bible, whose prophecies and life continue to impact us today and tomorrow. God shapes our children by His profound call of grace, yes, but we would be foolish not to think He is using the majority hours of the week, the mundane, and many minutes a day to shape their destiny.
Let us walk with this in mind; our children will be the next generation of leaders in our world, and potentially the tip of the spear for the gospel going forth to the nations.
Lastly, my final encouragement is to continue to move through this year with joy in your heart and celebrate small wins often. Many of us may not be sensing much of either of those just yet, maybe experiencing some anxiety, doubt, fear, but I want to encourage us in the fruit of the spirit of joy and in the discipline of celebration. As this year continues, and we want to keep the stamina and momentum we are working to build right now on our home days and school days, we will need joy and to celebrate small wins often. Remember, joy makes us strong. The Bible says the joy of the Lord is our strength. One author writes, “Without a joyful spirit of festivity the disciplines become dull, death breathing tools in the hands of modern Pharisees. Every discipline should be characterized by a carefree gaiety and a sense of thanksgiving!” So how do we cooperate to experience the joy that the Lord promises can and should be ours? Through a thankful heart, an obedient life, and an eternal perspective. We need to remember to wrap this entire year in joy, and its close cousin, gratitude, as well as celebrate often. This makes the difference of the day and the year. “The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” Let us keep this before our hearts and minds as we go onward.
“For you shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;”
 Nehemiah 8:10, ESV
 Foster, Richard. Celebration of Discipline: the Path to Spiritual Growth. San Francisco: HaperOne, 1978. 191.
 Steindl-Rast, David. Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer. New York: Paulist Press/Ramsey, 1984. 204.
 Isaiah 55:12-13, ESV