Catalysts versus Calling
Earlier this spring, David and I were in the mountains of North Carolina to finish writing some sessions and to pray for all the upcoming events and the families we’d get to meet.
While we were there, David started talking about what he was learning from the story of Jonah in his devotions.
One of the things that really stood out to David in his study was the contrast between the catalyst and the calling for Jonah— and how that impacted his ministry, and I really think that making that distinction is valuable for any homeschooling family.
In the account of Jonah, we see a prophet who initially ran from his calling, because he absolutely didn’t like it. So, though he was called to go to Ninevah to tell them about God, we see him running in the complete opposite direction. All seemed to be going well, too… until a storm came.
We probably all know the story, so I won’t go through it all now— but through that storm, Jonah acknowledged his disobedience and was thrown into the sea… only to be miraculously swallowed by a great fish, which God used to preserve his life and set him back on the right path towards where he should have gone in the first place.
The storm… the fish— God used those CATALYSTS to get Jonah moving in the right direction, but neither of those things were as important as the calling God had given him— to tell the Assyrians to repent.
So, you may be asking yourself how on earth does that story apply to homeschooling your children?
The point David was trying to help me see when we were discussing it was that God can use a lot of different catalysts to get our attention and set us back on the right track— but those are small in comparison to our calling.
**Far too often, we’ll allow the catalysts God puts in our path… to set us back in the right direction, but if we aren’t anchored in our calling, we’re likely to find ourselves trying to hold on to lesser things.**
Your calling is the mission that God has given you, while the catalyst is something or someone that helps you understand that calling. Your calling as a Christian parent has to do with introducing your children to Jesus and helping them grow in Him by any means you have available to you.
**So, your calling is anchored in Him!**
God can use a lot of different means and methods to get your attention and direct you towards that call— it could be concern about the health and safety of your children if they were to continue in a traditional school… A bad teacher, a failing school system, and countless other things that act as catalysts to get you thinking in the direction of bringing your children home for their schooling, **thus giving you a lot more time to spend with them each day**. These are all like the storm and the big fish in the story of Jonah.
But, all of those things will pass—teachers will move on… fear surrounding a new virus will either subside or become the new normal… so, you’ll find that when your reason for homeschooling is that temporary, that small, your resolve will be as well. You can’t anchor to any of those— they simply won’t hold.
Your calling as a Christian parent is to bring your children to Jesus and teach them to know Him and serve Him well… That’s called discipleship— and you’re going to find that there are few tools to help you accomplish that calling better than Homeschooling will.
So, since your calling is actually to parent and disciple our children, homeschooling itself can be one of the catalysts God uses to get you to focus on that.
But, homeschooling is not an end in and of itself. It won’t guarantee that your child will walk with God. It won’t guarantee that they’ll turn out the way you want them to.
**Rather, homeschooling is a step of obedience where you will have the opportunity to seize every moment and resource you can to engage in discussions with your children that will strengthen their faith and relationship with God, with you, and with others.**
Homeschooling with your calling (_discipleship-focused parenting_) in mind will shape how you approach your days, your children, their academics, and everything else.
**Here is our next Anchor—> Focusing on your calling rather than a catalyst will change your focus and your practice.
You’ll start aiming for the hearts of your children and you’ll realize that the only way to do that is to intentionally be present, involved, and available for them every step of the way.
When heart schooling, you’ll find that relationships are paramount; your children feel important and secure; discussions are intentional; grace is extended; and priorities change.
I do want to give you a warning about trying to anchor to a catalyst rather than your calling. If you start trying to anchor to a catalyst— and start being laser focused on it, you’ll often find that thing becomes an idol.
Just think if Jonah had gone to Ninevah telling the story of the big fish, instead of preaching repentance. Rather than seeing the Assyrians fall on their knees before God, they may have built an idol of a fish, right?
You should never elevate the catalyst into the place of importance.
One of the catalysts God gave us for starting Teach Them Diligently was that we were noticing that Homeschooling was becoming an idol for many families. In fact, some were using phrases like, “we converted them to homeschooling…” The educational act of doing school at home became a source of pride and identity that caused many to stumble— instead of being seen as a tool God gave them to achieve their ultimate goal of raising their children to know and love God and people.
Academic pursuits, while noble and important, can become the driving factor in your homeschool if that’s where your primary focus is. You’ll make decisions and comparisons based on that lighter anchor rather than the solid, firm one you have in your calling of discipling your children. THAT focus can lead to pride in both you and your child.
In Psalm 115, the psalmist draws a distinction between the Lord and idols. Ultimately, he notes in v. 8 that those who make idols become like them— lifeless and powerless. So, if you find that the pursuit of homeschooling sucks the life out of you, making you lifeless and powerless, it may be a sign that you’ve elevated an idol above your calling. David and I talk about this a lot more on the podcast where we had an in depth conversation about idols and catalysts and calling within your home. I encourage you to check it out.
**Remember, whether you’re intentional in your discipleship or not, as a parent, you are ALWAYS teaching your children something**. You’re passing on your worldview, your priorities, and your beliefs. Years ago, God pricked our hearts as we heard a pastor note that **“You Teach What You Know, but you Reproduce Who You Are.” **
By focusing on your calling rather than on any catalyst, you’ll be reminded day in and day out to make sure that who you are is who you would want to see reproduced in your children. **So, anchoring in that calling has a sanctifying element to it as well.** **As you are growing and changing, you’ll be able to leverage everything you’ve learned in Christ, so your children can become more like Him. **
You’ll recognize your need to be in God’s Word every day to get direction and wisdom and grace for the hour.
You’ll find yourself spending more time in prayer as your weaknesses are very easy to see when you’re stretched by some of the circumstances or conversations you have.
Your children are watching you— so if you want to see them growing and changing to be more like Christ and becoming stronger in their faith and in their beliefs, you’ll need to do likewise.
**So, ANCHOR yourself in your calling, not your catalyst, and start ordering your life around it— and that will keep the activities of homeschool in their right order of importance within your family and give you clarity when you’re faced with choices in the days to come. **
I’ve included some resources for you with this lesson to help you in your own walk with Christ— as well as a link to some other podcasts and videos that will help you zero in on what your calling really is as a parent.
In the next lesson, we’ll look at the difference between academics and homeschool subjects— and how that can make a huge impact on the way you teach your children diligently.
In the meantime, don’t forget— God created YOU— only YOU to be the parent of your children. He gave YOU— only YOU— the directive to Teach Them Diligently… and you’ve been doing it since they were born!! You got this, Mama and Daddy— and God knows you’re the perfect ones to direct their education even as you shepherd their hearts and point them to Jesus. Invest in that call— and the rest will fall into place.
I’ll see you next time.
Catalysts Vs. Calling
Homeschooling with your calling (discipleship-focused parenting) in mind will shape how you approach your days, your children, their academics, and everything else.