The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe. Prov 29:25 (KJV)
Whenever Scripture draws the line for us, between godly and ungodly fear, the fear of man is presented as the opposite of the fear of God. There is no Scriptural way around it; the fear of man goes nowhere and the fear of God is the only safe choice. As is recorded in Isaiah 8:11-14a, “For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, ‘…neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify (regard as holy) the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary…’” (KJV)
Here, Isaiah is saying that to fear someone is to regard him as holy. Whom do we call holy? Perhaps we think we believe that God is the only holy one, but perhaps we are deceiving ourselves into a false sense of sanctuary. Do we fear others besides God? Do we dare to sanctify them or declare them holy?
Fear of man equals idolatry because God says to fear only Him, to make only Him holy. Do we obey? Maybe we should look at a few fears that are common to home schoolers and see.
Fear of Requirements:
Whose requirements or standards do we hold to when we educate our children, and whose requirements do we despise? Whom do we place over them as masters? Jesus says:
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon…. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought…And why take ye thought … Therefore take no thought…But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought …” Matt 6:24-34
Notice in this passage that Jesus was not forbidding us to have two masters. No, rather, He was simply stating the truth: You cannot have two masters. It is impossible. It will never happen. You will hate or despise one of them.
Every master has a “master plan”, his own goals for his own pleasure. Whether he is in charge of a family, a factory, or a federation, he will think he knows what to do and will want to make it happen. That is why he is called the master.
We could make two long lists of the Lord’s goals and the goals of the world and one thing would become certain: The goals of the world are diametrically opposed to the Lord’s goals. It follows that the world’s educational goals are also in opposition to Godly educational goals.
It is important to see, as Jesus taught, that you cannot walk the fence between God and the world.
You will fall off, and when you recover, you will discover that you are not where you really wanted to be.
We need to come down off the fence and turn towards God’s goals. We would surely profit from knowing what these goals are. (It is important to see that goals are not the same as tools. Curriculum is a tool and should never be our master. People who let their curriculum master them often stop home schooling.)
Let us look at a current, worldly definition of the goals of education, from Webster’s New World Dictionary, from 1960:
Education – 1. the process of educating, especially by formal schooling; teaching; training. 2. knowledge, ability, etc. thus developed. 3. a) formal schooling. b) a kind or stage of this, as a medical education. 4. systematic study of the methods and theories of teaching and learning.
Obviously, worldly educational goals are based upon accumulation of “knowledge” and focused very simply upon “facts”. As long, therefore, as an idea can somehow seem to be “proved”, it will be master. This is why worldly education is so full of “facts” of questionable substantiation; it must have them to survive and to appear to have legitimacy.
This is also why the truth, which must be believed in order to carry its full weight, is rejected; it is not fun or easy, and may be misrepresented as “non-factual”. It is also why worldly educational standards have become superficial and sequence based. (You must read in first grade, do fractions in 4th, biology in 9th, etc. Good character often matters little, if at all.)
Worldly education has its basis in academics, as if the more “facts” you memorize, the better prepared you will be for life. God’s people should know better than that. Actually, if we examine a Godly definition of education, we see a marked difference:
Education – The bringing up, as of a child; instruction; formation. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts, and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties. –Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
Notice the huge difference. A Godly definition of education mentions forming, disciplining, enlightening, and correcting the child. The goal is his future tangible usefulness, and is presented as impossible without religion. If you think about the preceding two definitions of education, and if you think about what the Word says about education, you can see that not all education lines up with the truth.
The important thing is to ask yourself, “Does my education line up with the truth?”
Educate yourself about this question, in order to educate your students better. Maybe you do not feel like bothering with studying what true education really is, but maybe that is why your children do not feel like bothering with studying at all?
Maybe you feel like you do not have the time, but you have greater possibility of having time to deal with the questions, than you will if you wait to deal with the problems you will have with your children if you do not. They will act neglected because that is what they will be, and the “default setting” for any generation of children who are neglected, is the worldly standard of that time.
Go back to Webster’s older definition of education, above, to see who bears the blame if this happens to your children.
Can you see that if you spend all your educational time mastering lists of factoids, you will be throwing the baby out with the bath water? Many, many extremely well educated people met all the requirements for the well-educated, yes, and their parents likely felt they would “go far” because they were so bright. Nevertheless, they are of no real use today because their success is just so much striving in the wrong direction.
They regarded worldly requirements as holy and feared to transgress them.
Is that the way for us? Do we want to fear man and his requirements? If we do, we will give place to many more fears. You see, the fear of man and his requirements (the opposite of the fear of God and His commands) is the basis for many other fears. These other fears are some of the most commonly given reasons for parents losing the Christian home school vision and, tragically, quitting.
Fear of standardized testing:
Of course, we want high test scores; who doesn’t? Why do we want them, though? When pressed, will we say that we desire to see if our children are keeping up?—Keeping up with what? —With the world’s goals, that is what.
It is imperative for home educators to realize that the standard raised on standardized tests is very, very low. It indicates the merest proficiency in the least important discipline—factoids. Yet, we allow a high score on these tests to make us feel secure about our home school. We think all is well, sometimes despite the fact that both mom and child may feel like quitting.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a child who actually is excelling may receive a low score instead of the blessing of celebrating his excellence. A young friend of mine, who enjoys imitating Dickens, received a low English score on one such test. To a high level of writing skill, she must add the generosity to change style, just for those tests. She is humble enough to adopt the insipid style of the computer-critiqued, just for a day; therefore she will succeed.
I repeat: Because she is humble, she will succeed. Of course, she did not learn this humility from the world.
Another child came home from testing, informing his mom, “All the important things are not on the test.” If our children can see this, then it is time we did, too.
We call the tests “standardized” because they introduce a standard, a desired outcome, a goal, a master plan. They who would master us lack only that we should fear them. Our attitude should be as Paul said:
“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” 2 Cor 10:12 (KJV)
If you think those words were meant only for missionaries, but not for you, then you do not realize how God-ordained it is to teach a child.
Fear of higher math/science:
Have you ever said this? “I don’t feel comfortable teaching higher math.” It is just a nicer way to say, “I am afraid.” Whomever we fear will master us. Parents who hesitate to allow a child to study a book that is not on his “level” also have decided to allow a worldly standard to master them. Yes, it is okay to teach chemistry to your freshman and biology to your sophomore, if you want to.
Only the world, that’s who. The world does not know whether it might be exactly what your child needs. We all must face these age-old realities very soon:
- Worldly teachers do not know everything there is to know about teaching.
- There is more than one right way to be the master of a school.
- Mistakes can be very good tools but need not be our masters.
- Education that comes down from our true Master is much more than spoon-feeding facts.
Fear of gaps:
We laughingly call this “gapaphobia”, but it is not funny. We need to realize that gapaphobia is a cruel master.
You can never finish filling in gaps because no one but God knows everything.
All people have educational gaps, no matter what they do.
You will never be able to overcome your fear of gaps by becoming educated more fully.
The solution is to choose your gaps. The privilege to choose your own children’s gaps is reserved for home educators, only. While the world is mourning over gaps in the moral teaching of its children, we should be rejoicing over the gaps in the worldly teaching of our children. We can and should choose to leave worldliness gaps in our curriculum, and to be certain to leave no Godliness gaps.
We are free to avoid one of the worst gaps, the one many worldly students have: dullness and boredom of soul because of failure to discover a Godly life purpose.
Discovering your God-given life purpose helps you determine the rest of your gaps.
Will you become a nurse? Best leave gaps elsewhere besides math.
Were you hoping to become a law enforcer? Better spend extra time in Constitutional studies.
Pray that the Lord would reveal what His purpose is in your child’s life. That will help you both determine where his gaps should be. How could a worldly teacher know this? How could a worldly curriculum address it?
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)
Fear of authorities:
Yes, God tells us to obey our governing authorities, and we should hold them in honor.
Yes, our situation might require record keeping or a special watch on our legislature. Some view these activities as normal where wise citizens uphold their part of the government in this country.
We need to be sure we fear God, though, rather than man. Sometimes the “authorities” who try to make us fear them instead of fearing God, are trying to master us, and are not under authority, themselves. Sometimes they, themselves, are not honoring the law that is over them. Sometimes they are breaking the law, and it would be wrong to aid or abet them.
From the news anchorman who tries to bring us to public trial, to the caseworker who tries to make illegal entry, to the neighbor who makes anonymous and slanderous reports of truancy, we must not fear them. When we take ourselves out from under the fear of man, we also take ourselves out from under man’s often inferior protection. We must see that when we fear God, He protects us, and we are so much safer! God holds the hearts of our authorities in His hand and turns them any way He wants. (See Proverbs 21:1)
Fear of college entrance:
What scares you more than “The TRANSCRIPT”? Did you know that typing a transcript is about an hour’s work? Wherefore fear? I used to fear “The DIPLOMA”, until I realized that nearly everyone I know, educated or not, has a diploma.
And the colleges know this too. Colleges do not care if you have a diploma because they know that it is meaningless. (It takes even less time to fill out a diploma; you can buy a pad of 25 of them for $10.00.) In some of the best colleges, freshmen may join the Honors learning track without the highest scores on the ACT/SAT, if they are home educated.
Colleges know that home educated children are what they really want and the ACT is not the “end-all” that we fear: It is time we moms figured this out, ourselves. Educate your child diligently, according to what God has shown you, do your best, and relax.
Fear of neighbors/family:
This fear can seem harder to overcome until we see the truth clearly: Our friends’ and family’s objections are merely their voicing of their fears. It is easy to realize that they want some reassurance or proof that all is ok. They look at themselves, fear that they would not measure up if they were in your place, and project those fears onto your situation and decisions.
The way to deal with fearful neighbors and family who are drilling you is first, not to be afraid, and second, to hand them some reassuring home school pamphlets. Take their fears seriously, admit that you also once feared the wrong things, and ask for their prayers that you would fear God instead of man. This way establishes the basis of honesty in your relations, witnesses to them, establishes God’s authority over your children, and may even gain you more prayer support.
Fear of each other:
This is about the “presentation night”, “or closing program”, and any other time you are not sure you or your children will appear to measure up.
Yes, other Godly moms teach differently, get great results, and act sure of themselves. Fearing them, though, is just fear of man, again.
How tragic that the ones who should be supporting each other would fear each other!
Take your eyes off her and put them on the Lord. Ask Him how you could serve her, learn from her, or work together with her…then do what He tells you. This is fear of God, instead of man, which will set you free.
The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe. (Proverbs 29:25) (KJV) Fear of man keeps our eyes off God. Trusting God helps us focus on what matters to Him and insures our safety.
Trust is the cure.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7) (KJV) Fear of man leaves us directionless and open to evil. Trusting God places us in His right path.
Trust is the cure.
He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. (Psalm 112:7) Fear of man expects a bad report. Trusting God gives the steadfastness that is built upon much greater expectations.
Trust is the cure.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5) (KJV) Then He “…will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten…” (Joel 2:25) (KJV)
HMS FEARLESS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Written in conjunction with Leah Stewart. Leah and her husband Randy live on their farm in Arkansas. They always home schooled their two children, who now are grown. She enjoys speaking to and encouraging home schoolers.