If you’ve listened to me for any length of time, you know how passionate I am about education. Today I’ll be answering a question that can get divisive, so let me start by saying that our focus should be on following God’s design for teaching our children. God’s Word is very clear that education is not neutral. No education is world-view neutral. Parents need to go before the Lord for direction and wisdom when it comes to educating His children.
Transcribed version of the podcast is below
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Romans 12:1-5
Scripture Mentioned in Podcast
- Proverbs 16:16
- 2 Timothy 2:15
- Proverbs 1:7
- Proverbs 24:3-8
- Luke 6:40
Resources Mentioned in Podcast
- MomStrong International
- Firmly Planted Bible Study
- Speak For Life Necklace
- Evangelical Christian Credit Union
All things Heidi
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Hey friends, this is Heidi St. John. Thanks for joining me in my little corner of the Internet. Today is Monday, September 16th— it is episode number 819. Today I’m going to take questions from listeners that really have to do with homeschooling versus private education. I don’t normally talk about this because I think it can be divisive, but I’m going to try to guide you through it.
Stick around, I think you’re going to be encouraged.
So thanks for tuning in today for everybody who joined us out in Fredericksburg. We had a wonderful time out there. It’s always encouraging for me to be able to travel around and meet you and really see the Lord at work in your life and that was certainly the case for the conference in Virginia. We hope to come back there again and I know that a lot of you are listening to that who maybe found me for the first time, so I’m going to encourage you like I did in Virginia— Stay faithful. The Lord wants to use you. Jesus is a life changer. The Gospel of Jesus Christ changes us and it’s going to change you too. This is an exciting time to be a Christian. Get off the bench, get onto the battlefield. So many amazing things happening around the culture right now.
I continue to get questions about education. I love getting them. I’m going to answer some of them today. I want to talk about it with an open heart because to me, education not neutral. Education is the responsibility of parents. The first question comes from a woman named Desiree. She says:
Heidi, I’m writing to you from Florida. I’m relatively new to your podcast and I love it. The education podcast, specifically, is enlightening and encouraging. This leads me to a question I have about homeschooling. It’s an issue of homeschool versus Christian school. I have three children— nine, six and three. I homeschooled my oldest son when he was in K4 and Kinder and then I sent him to first grade in a private Christian school. Reason being— I was having a hard time balancing being a wife, mom educator, cleaner cook, etc. My son is now in third grade and my daughter in first grade. I do believe you mentioned attending a Christian school yourself. So I’m wondering if it’s truly better to homeschool versus Christian school. I do understand the drawbacks of sending our kids to public schools as I am not in agreement with much of what is taught or expected of children in this environment, but how is homeschool better than Christian private school?
So that’s one question, and here is another question that comes from a listener who wishes to remain anonymous:
Dear Heidi, I love your podcast. I’m so glad at airs three days a week because I never get too far behind when I can’t catch up on a project day. The church we attend has a private school in it. We have been attending for a few years now. Before this, we didn’t have much contact with any type of private school. I can’t put my finger on it, but I just can’t get behind the idea that God is pleased with Christians who send their kids away for the majority of their childhood to be educated—even in a Christian setting. Obviously the public school system is tainted at its core, but even when solid biblical truth is being integrated into a child’s education system— isn’t God fairly clear that we as parents are to be the primary religious and educational teachers of our children? Can you talk a bit about what the Bible has to say about Christian school and Private School in general?
A couple of things before I jump into this. First of all, I will give you guys a little bit of my history for those of you who aren’t familiar with it or just didn’t hear it before because as Desiree suggested, I have talked about my own education. I was educated in a private school. I went to a Christian school from kindergarten through 12th grade. My grandparents paid for our tuition and as a general rule I had a very, very good experience in my Christian school. This was back in the 80s. I realize I’m dating myself—it was quite a while ago. We chose for our own children to homeschool them and I’m going to kind of lead you through how we made the decision and where we ended up as a family. One thing I want to say before I jump into this, because I realize this is a kind of a divisive issue and people can get upset—you guys, this is not something for Christians to be fighting about with each other.
We got enough to worry about without beating each other up. You’re not going to hear me beat up the parent who chooses to put their child in public school either. You’re going to hear me say— wow, you’ve got your work cut out for you. So if you choose to put your child in public school for whatever reason, we’re still going to be friends and I hope you’re still gonna listen to the podcast and I’m going to continue to encourage you get off the bench and onto the battlefield. I think, frankly, if your kids are in public school, you’re going to work 10 times harder than a homeschool mom because you’re going to be having to undo a lot of the damage that is happening to your child’s heart and mind while they are being educated in a godless environment. As Christians, the Bible teaches us that God should be the center of our lives.
That means that we consider Him and how He would feel about something— in every aspect. When we choose a college for our child, we want to consider what God has to say. What does the Bible have to say about education? What does the Lord want me to do about this person that my child is considering dating? What about these classes? We want the Lord to be intimately involved in our lives. We don’t want to wear Him as an accessory. We don’t want to wear our Christianity as an accessory. So often in the church today, this is what I see— our Christianity is something that we put on when we go to church and then we take it off when we turn on Netflix. Or we put it on when we’re at our Wednesday night Bible study but then we take it off when we choose who’s going to be educating our children.
That’s not right.
The Bible teaches us that God is interested in us having wisdom. Proverbs 16:16 says that having wisdom and understanding is better than having silver or gold. That’s kind of a big deal because what’s happening in the culture right now is we are not embracing this idea of teaching our children to be wise—instead, they’re getting a lot of knowledge. Wisdom is what happens when we can apply the things that we’re learning to everyday life and filter them through the grid of God’s Scripture. This is so important and I think it’s the same thing for college. You guys, not everybody needs to go to college. I know that that’s some of your like— what? But it’s true. We’ve totally devalued the trades, which I don’t understand why we’ve done that. We’re pushing our kids to go to liberal universities and oftentimes they go and they don’t know what they’re doing.
I’m a huge fan of a gap year. My friend Bill Jack’s gap year program, The Abby at Worldview Academy, is a great place. My nephew was there right now. I’m so excited for him. We want our kids to walk with the Lord and education is part of that. 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us that we should study to show God that we understand truth, that we want to understand the world as God sees it. This verse refers to knowing God’s Word and being able to point out false teachings and philosophies. It also applies to how we view education. So as a student, you should indulge yourself in your work and be the best that you can be. Take your classes seriously, prepare for them, try to get ahead. Four years is going to go by pretty quickly, but God wants you to give it your all study to show yourself approved—a workman who does not need to be ashamed, who rightly divides the Word of truth. So studying is important, but we also know that we should put God first. We want to put the Lord first. Moses was educated. The Bible is pro-education. It’s got to be tied to godly wisdom or it turns into foolishness. Once you look at the book of Proverbs, you’ll see very quickly that Moses was no exception as it was written of him. This is from Acts: At this time, Moses was born and he was beautiful in God’s sight and he was brought up for three months in his father’s house and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and he was mighty in his words and deeds.
It looks to me like education served Moses pretty well when he started to help administer the civil laws and codes for the nation of Israel. He also acted as a judge for the people. So education is not a bad thing. I think sometimes people are down on it, but the Bible tells us that we want to be full of wisdom, not just knowledge. Go to the University of California, Berkeley and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Or for goodness sake, go down here to University of Portland. We got a lot of kids wander around campus right now who are foolish and arrogant and we want to be wise. We want to learn to be wise.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 24:3-8 By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; And by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is strong, And a man of knowledge increases power. For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory. Wisdom is too exalted for a fool, he does not open his mouth in the gate. He does not open his mouth in the gate.
It takes godly wisdom to build and have understanding to be established. It is only by knowledge that true riches are acquired. These riches are not found only in the wisdom of literature, they’re found in the whole counsel of the Word of God, starting in the book of Genesis all the way to Revelation. In these pages we are going to find no greater wisdom, education, or knowledge in the entire world. So, education is important and who educates your kids is important. Now we get to the crux of your question, which is— what do I think about Christian schools versus homeschooling?
Our family chose to homeschool our kids and we had a very interesting story and how we came to do that. My husband was pastoring here in Vancouver, Washington, and one of the perks of him being a pastor was that our children would be able to go to the Christian school that was at this church, for free. At that point, we’d been homeschooling our kids for a couple of years — you remember we pulled our daughter Savannah out of public school to homeschool her… something I thought I would never do. We had been homeschooling for about three years and my husband was offered this job and along with it came free tuition for our kids at a Christian school.
I remember telling my husband—we have struck the holy grail of education. We’re finally gonna get to put our kids in a Christian school and I’m not going to have to feel responsible for their education anymore. He was like— that’s right, this is so awesome. We decided before we made a decision, we would pray about it and we took it before the Lord. You guys, as I live and breathe, we knew within a day that God was saying— no, keep them home. So, here I have access to a free tuition for a really great private Christian school and the Lord was saying— no, keep them home. I still believe if you’ve got a choice to make, homeschooling is the best option because your kids get to be with you all the time and you get to bring them up and you get to teach them the Word of God and you get to determine what is important for them.
Even when they’re in a Christian school, your kids are influenced by the world. It’s just the truth. I went to a Christian school and we had some pretty serious problems in my school. I remember them still today. In fact, some of the kids I went to school with are still carrying the scars that they incurred in my private Christian school. So do I think it’s a sin to send your kids to a Christian school? Absolutely not. And for goodness sake, if it’s going to be a Christian school or a public school, put them in a Christian school. To me homeschooling is just a better option. But I don’t think it’s a sin issue. I think this is where we start throwing things at each other and people get all upset.
I got a little bit of a hint of arrogance in a couple of other letters that I didn’t read, from people who homeschool their kids and feel like this is the very best option. They really are looking down on people who put their kids in Christian schools. You guys, we gotta knock that off. We need to be praying for each other. We need to be praying— Lord, give my neighbor wisdom, give my sister, my brother in law wisdom so that they can follow You. Then, I’m going to trust that God’s going to speak to them because the person that the Lord is most likely to speak to about what you should do with your kids in school is not me. Aren’t you glad? It’s you!
That means that she needs to be in prayer. That means you gotta be willing to come before the Lord with an open hand and an open heart and say— Lord, what do you want me to do? Sometimes God is going to answer that question in a way that you’re not going to enjoy. Sometimes the Lord’s going to say— no, I don’t want you to do that, I want you to do this. You’re going to be surprised by it. You might even be dismayed, but it’s about obedience because the Bible has a lot more to say than we want to admit that it does on the subject of Christian education.
I’m a fan of Christian education. My grandparents, like I said, put me through a Christian school. They did not want us in the public school. This was a long time ago. I remember my grandmother telling me that education mattered to the Lord. Scripture is clear that some matters are left up to individual preference and conscience, but— where the Bible speaks clearly, we need to listen and obey.
Luke 6:40 the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.
God is consistent when He gives instructions on to His people— He’s telling us it matters when you rise up, when you sit down— we are responsible for how our children’s hearts and minds are forming the opinions that they’re forming, the ideas that they’re forming. Parents are responsible for that. It is a parent who has the responsibility for the upbringing and education of their children. There are lots of scriptures that talk about education in the Bible, lots of passages for you to read and pray over.
I want to encourage you as you do it, it’s not enough to just come up with an opinion and say— well, this is what we’re doing. Can I just encourage you to have a biblical backup for whatever decision that you come to and say — “Hey, my husband, I prayed about it and this is what we decided to do”? Please don’t take the bait and start talking about salt and light and how your kid’s suppose to be salt and light in the school district. I do not read that anywhere. So if you’re going to say— this is why I’m doing it— please just don’t use Scripture to back it up because I feel like it’s just taking it out of context. It’s like saying we’re going to throw our kids out onto the front lines and go—here you go guys.
Do I have some friends whose kids have gone through the public school and have been fine? Absolutely. One of my very best friends in the whole world, put her kids in public school. And guess what? We’re still very best friends. It wasn’t a deal breaker. I’m not responsible for my friend’s kids. She is and she’s not responsible for my kids. I am. We can love each other and we need to be doing that. Another thing that I want to point out is there is no magic bullet. So if you think that homeschooling is going to keep your kids from walking away from the Lord, you are sorely misunderstanding parenting.
Your children are going to reach an age of accountability and they’re going to get to choose for themselves. This is part of the reason why I’m always encouraging parents—please do not make the Bible a subject that you teach in school. The Bible is life. It’s living water. It’s what we do.
Whether our kids are in public school or homeschooled or Christian schools—we are teaching God’s Word to our children. My husband and I wrote a Bible devotional for families called Firmly Planted. The whole idea behind that was to engage the entire family in the study of God’s Word. To understand that we want our kids to know the Bible before they know any other thing. We want them to understand God’s Word because the world is blurring the lines between right and wrong right now and the schools are not giving our kids godly instruction—and moral relativism has permeated the culture and we want our children not to call evil good. We want them to make a sharp distinction between the two.
Homeschooling is not the answer. Christian school is not the answer. Jesus is the answer. Teaching our children to walk in right relationship with the Lord. I’d love to sit here today in the studio and tell you that Jay and I have never had a bad moment with our kids. Dude, I pray my heart out for my kids by name every day because I know how vulnerable they are to the lies of the enemy. I know that because my husband and I are on the forefront of the battle, and because we’ve taken a place in leadership in the church, our kids are a particularly hot target for the enemy of their soul. I know that homeschool is not gonna save them. At the end of the day it’s going to be— do they know Jesus?
That’s your role.
Listen, the public school system as it currently exists, was built on a foundation of secularism. In our school system God is disallowed and the Bible has been rejected. I’m telling you, your kids, if they’re in public school, they’re not being taught in a philosophical vacuum. There is a worldview that they’re being taught. Education is not neutral. The schools are not worldview neutral. When you eliminate God and when you get rid of Scripture, you can be certain that the fear of the Lord is not going to be the foundation of what your children are going to receive an education. If your kids are in public—I hope and I pray that you are involved, that you are getting on the board, that you’re talking to your children about what they’re learning, that you are carefully paying attention to the children that they’re hanging out with.
This is actually true everywhere. This is true in the homeschool world. The Bible says that a companion of fools suffers harm. Oh my goodness, we can go on and on but I’m out of time today. The main thing I want you to come away with is if there was a gold standard, homeschooling is it. It’s hard. I’d love to tell you— wow, it’s so easy. I’ve never had a bad day. I’ve never yelled at my kids….but that wouldn’t be true. I always tell people—it was the hardest, best decision, that we ever made. If you can’t homeschool your kids then a Christian school is the next best option. If you can’t do that, put them in public school and pray like crazy and get involved. But no matter what you’re doing, you have to pray like crazy. No matter what you’re doing, you’ve got to get involved.
Parents, can we not attack each other. Can we pray for each other? I believe that God would have us do that—to love each other well and to say: I’m praying for you. We need revival in our churches. We need the Lord to move in our families and we need to be coming under the authority of Scripture and really praying together with our spouses. Lord, show us what you want us to do. God has answers for you from His Word. He will direct you and He will show you what to do. God wants to be intimately involved in every decision that you make, particularly as it relates to your family. I want to say thanks for listening today as usual. I love it if you could leave a review for the podcast over at iTunes. If you’ve never reviewed my books, I’d love it if you would also.
I wanted to let you know I have a beautiful pro-life pendant that I think you guys are going to love and it makes a statement about supporting life. You can find it at the store.
Before I go today, I want to remind you that this podcast has been sponsored by Evangelical Christian Credit Union. You guys, I talk a lot about sheltering children and the importance of sheltering children, but there is one thing that we should not keep our children from and that is the power of handling money responsibly. Our podcast sponsor today is ECCU and they have tools that parents can use to teach financial responsibility to children of any age. You can open spending account savings accounts with no monthly or overdraft fees. You guys, I could go on and on. We need to teach our children to be accountable for their finances and ECCU will help you do just that. For more information, check them out at ECCU.org/heidi. Don’t shield your children from responsibility. They’ll thank you for it later.
Thanks for tuning in everybody!
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Heidi St. John
c/o Firmly Planted Family
11100 NE 34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682
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