With the weather cooling and the streets quieting down as the neighborhood children return to their desks, we, too, are filled with the hope that freshly sharpened pencils, unopened textbooks, and new schedules bring.
We stare at the tidy shelves and blank slates that hold a renewed sense of confidence as our excitement and anticipation is revived.
The possibilities seem endless and nothing can stand in our way.
The dawn of a new school year.
And so, we bring our children in and sit them down in order to accomplish what the world is telling us we must.
We re-establish our rules and expectations with our pupils.
We put our faith back in the tangible.
School has started; it is time to buckle down.
We promise ourselves that this will be the year: the year to get it all done, the year we not only accomplish science, history, language and math but the year that we can also tackle a foreign language, art and music.
This will be the year our children won’t complain and the year we can try the new curriculum that everyone is talking about.
This will be the year we can implement all the ideas, suggestions and plans we have been dreaming about since the beginning.
And we forget.
We get distracted from the bigger picture of our calling.
We, instead, place our hope in our neatly written yearly goals, monthly schedules, weekly agendas, and daily procedures.
We count lessons to make sure we fit it all in.
We then sit our children down and hand them this plan and all the expectations that go with it, trying to conform them to our ideals, shoving information in them, and checking off boxes in order to feel accomplished; like we have succeeded at our job.
We become so preoccupied with ‘school’ that we lose sight of the greater purpose God is calling us to; and as always, a few months in, we start to lose our footing; our plans unravel and our pages begin to run together.
Our pencils dull, along with our joy.
Frustration builds, tears fall, and the feeling of failure we are so familiar with returns.
So often it takes us getting half way through the year, exhausted, disappointed and discouraged before we step back and find our focus; it takes the meltdowns and sense of defeat that come months down the road before we look up.
And we realize what we have done:
Somewhere along the way we bought the lie that who these children are and the future that is before them is determined, not by God, but by my lesson plan book and the completion of our chosen curriculum.
We have been deceived into believing that our school must look like ‘the school.’
We flip our calling upside down and set ourselves up for failure.
We put our hope in the wrong place, the wrong things.
We plan, we organize, and we build our vision statement.
Our best made plans become our daily failures and we start to realize this isn’t working.
Something must change.
And right there, among the cries of burnout, we hear it:
that still, quiet voice whispering to us,
“Seek first the Kingdom of God, His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matt. 6:33
Seek first the kingdom of God.
A simple shift of obedience and suddenly, only one thing remains on the to-do list.
All those plans, all those tasks I thought I needed to accomplish, and really, it comes down to one thing:
Let us remember and make this year different.
Let us start strong in order to avoid the burnout around the corner.
Let our focus be on Jesus and the greater calling He has given us; the call to teach and train our children in Him, so that they will flourish in whatever it is He has called them to.
Let us build relationships and discover who our children were made to be, by their creator.
Let our foundation be built upon His word, not the curriculum.
Let our schedules be led by HIS plan, not our own.
Let us point to Him in all we say and do.
And then, and only then, will ‘all these things be added
Then we can open the language book with a right focus, and point to Him;
then we can tackle the math lessons, and point to Him;
then we can rightly educate our children in all things, because He is the center of it all.
So, as you sharpen the pencils and crack the spine on the new books, remember: our hope is not in the new school year; our hope is in the One that has given us this incredible gift of being parents.
All we must do is Seek first the Kingdom of God.