The Proper View of Family (Are We Too “Inward Focused?”)

The Proper View of Family. Are We Too Inward Focused?I haven’t been able to stop thinking about something a (Christian) commenter said on a recent post, “Learning to Think Rightly About Birth Control“:

“I really struggle with labeling the family as “the ripe mission” field and creating a “mini-church” in the family. Honestly this is probably the main reason I don’t homeschool beyond preschool–it’s a little to inward focused for me.”

She was trying to make the point that “the whole world is our mission field” and that paying too much attention to our families discounted the fact.

My heart breaks over this, a common view of family among Christians, who assert that the homeschooling movement has “created an idol of the family” (though some very well may have), giving a knee-jerk reaction that misses the biblical view of family and ultimately destroys this mission field first given to us.

Scripture is saturated with the proper view of the family, analogous to the church and the relationship between the Father and the Son. The institution of marriage was initiated by God, not the state, and was set in motion to be the very picture of a fruitful, thriving church.

Yes, the family is meant to look like a “mini-church” in the way it operates.

Dr. Joseph Atkinson writes:

“The family offers Christ and intercedes for its own members and those around it (priestly); the family is a sign of Christ’s love and faithfulness to a world that is enmeshed in the culture of death (prophetic); and the family serves its own members and those around it sacrificially (kingly).

By participating in the saving and redemptive nature of the Church, the family is profoundly rooted in the Church’s mission. The family has truly become a little church, or as it is better known, a domestic church.”

Regarding the original comment, there is hardly such a thing for a mother or father of young children to be “too inwardly focused”. In fact, during the young family’s life, it is probable that discipling their children, providing for their spiritual, emotional and physical needs is ALL they can do and these families need to understand that IT IS ENOUGH.

Theological Error (Ideas have consequences.)

I think our faulty view of the family stems from some theological error. First, we have “now-centered” thinking where God works over long periods of time to accomplish His purposes. So our evangelical mission is focused on making fast numbers instead of a seeing a steady growth of solid disciples brought up by solid Christian families, who will, in the right time, become ministers all over the earth. We can’t save people; we can only live for Him and be ready to give an answer of the hope that is ours. Therefore, the way we live–the way we operate in our families (since it is a living picture of the gospel)–is paramount.

Secondly, because of the accepted norm of birth control, life is now something we think we can choose or not, so children have become less valuable, more of a commodity and not viewed in our eyes as the Lord views them…”…for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” We don’t even realize it has happened, but it can be clearly seen as evidenced in comments like the one that prompted this post. Truly, our family is a mission field, ripe unto harvest, and until we have come to a correct perspective on our duties there, we are not fit for evangelism anywhere else.

God sent His son for the most dynamic Christian mission the earth has ever known, and yet we have no record of his ministry until he was in his thirties. When he left, he had around 150 disciples. Compared to our mega-church mentality, his mission work wasn’t too impressive. But He was about His Father’s business and He knew the long-term vision and the importance of investing in a few disciples, day in and day out, so they would survive the long haul, bearing fruit in their season.

One passage of Scripture that has become almost obsolete gives us a closer look at the importance of family:

“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8

This passage refers primarily to financial provision. We know from Scripture that the spiritual life of a man is of far more importance than his physical life, and yet this verse speaks so strongly about the lesser of the two. How much more, if we do not give ourselves to the spiritual provision of our families, are we at fault?

The Heart of the Matter

“Give me your heart, my son.”

This is no longer the plea of the modern, Christian parent. Getting the hearts of our children is essentially “the heart” of discipleship, clearly demonstrated by our Savior as he walked with his earthly children. It is impossible to understand the necessity of this discipleship and worry about “too much inward focus.”

As a family functioning as it should (notwithstanding its own difficulties), it becomes the “city on a hill” the light in a dark world, the most effective form of evangelism.

We had better get inward focused if we want to see real outward change in the world for Christ.


56 Responses to “The Proper View of Family (Are We Too “Inward Focused?”)”

  1. So well put,Kelly. I think it’s also worth pointing out that Christ Himself spent the first 30 YEARS of His incarnation at home, in a no-name town, with His family. He knew where He was supposed to be–His family was His own first mission field, and it prepared Him for what was to come. We can’t expect to do better than Jesus!

  2. Tania says:

    As a mother of three children I believe that they are my most important mission field. The original mandate to go forth and multiply has never been rescinded and it is our children who we can most influence. For my generation I have watched so many women put off getting married, then put off having children until they found that they were no longer fertile when it was finally ‘convenient’ for them to reproduce. It has been heartbreaking for the families and friends concerned. Christians who can have children should NOT be discouraged from marrying young, and the Church as a community ought to help as much as possible to help them have children and bring them up in the faith. This is much more important than anything else, to raise children of good character who can rise up and take their place in the Church.

    • Amy says:

      I understand what you are saying, but I would like to point out that not everyone meets their spouses at a young age. I always imagined I would marry young and have lots of babies, but I am so glad I waited and married older. God blessed me with a wonderful husband in His timing. Also, infertility is extremely difficult and painful regardless of the circumstances that would seem to lead it. I would encourage everyone to be thoughtful, kind, loving, and understanding with a friend who deals with infertility.

  3. dora says:

    May I say this?

    I am always reminded, that it was only Noah and his family that entered the ark. And scripture tells us in 2 Peter 2 that Noah was a preacher of righteousness.

    We can only declare the truth of God’s word. If no one else listens, see to it that our families are on the ark.

    There is a hell.

  4. Natalie says:

    This is excellent. What else can I say? You nailed it.

  5. Jerilyn says:

    It IS enough to meet the physical and spiritual needs of our families!
    If we are doing it well (or to the best of our abilities), we will find that there isn’t a lot of time or energy left over. I used to spend a lot of time/resources “ministering” outside the home, dragging my children hither and yon. Since I have realized what a grave mistake it is to fail to keep the hearts of my children, and my home in peaceful order, our homeschool experience has blossomed, our marriage has become so much sweeter, and our children are growing in their faith. I had no idea life could be so wonderful! The fruit of it is indeed affecting people on the outside looking in. I am so glad that God’s word changed my mind about the mission field I am called to. I will stand before Him and give an account one day. I want to be found faithful.
    I love the comment about Noah and his family, too!
    Thanks for all you do to encourage us, Kelly 🙂

    • MelissaB says:

      Jerilyn ~ This also is my experience. And, oh, how I wish we could share this truth with every new Momma who has little ones. It is enough – especially in the phase when our children are young – to “be sober, LOVE your husband, LOVE your children, (:5) be discreet, chaste, keepers at home(<-):), good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." (Titus 2:4-5)

      How I LOVE serving The Lord in the way i love & serve my husband that He's given me and the precious two girls He's blessed us with!

      But it doesn't stop within our walls. As a family, we can take homemade bread and visit widows and the shut-ins – – who have long since been forgotten by the church body they once attended:(. Nursing homes are full of precious people who have never entered a church, never heard the gospel (even where I live in the south), and what a ministry our children are to the elderly. Door-to-door salesmen seldom leave our home without a cup of tea or a glass of water, a quick snack, and the love of Jesus Christ. And we can do all of these ministries – & more – as a family … together. 🙂

      May the Lord bless you young Mommas who have little ones in the home with peace in your hearts as you meditate on Titus 2:4-5 ~ and the Love and Joy & Peace(!) that comes with it. We Mommas with older ones love you dearly, as we have been there. My prayer for you, as you read this, is that Jesus will fill your heart with peace and to know the ministries HE would have you to do.

      "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matt. 11:30

      {Kelly, i'm sorry this is so long.(!!) thank you for letting me share my heart. And, Thank you for all of the encouragement Christ has filled you with – it has blessed my heart on hundreds of occasions. I love you in the Lord, dear Sister in Christ. :)}

  6. Jennie Herbranson says:

    Yrs. ago, as a new Christian.. I had a strong desire to be “out there”… moving in circles that were sharing their faith and making a difference. We had 3 little girls in the public school at the time. The Lord made it very clear to me that my mission field at that time of my life was my family, and that if we could send them out as strong Christians in the future, we would have doubled our influence. We did and they are. Always let God lead.

  7. Keri says:

    Kelly, I remember that comment also and it bothered me. I now have four grown kids in their 20’s and a 17 yr.old and 14yr.old that I am still homeschooling.I’m going to be honest here and say that I at times now have to stop and remember that I need to be diligent in doing what I need to do with my younger two still schooling.It gets easier as they get older and with that comes that “pull” of “I can do this now” or “serve this way”.Yes-there is a season as we have all heard.My first responsibility is still to my husband and children.We may be home with our children but we still have many opportunities to reach out and encourage someone, share the gospel, make a meal…and the list goes on and on.I have heard it all over the years..from being called “A Career Mom” to many other things…lol.When I was bothered me some.Now that I am older with four kids in their 20’s..not one bit of it bothers me.Let me tell you mom’s of younger ones in the midst of it all…If you can envision your kids in their 20’s(I know it seems like forever)but it will come quicker then you can imagine. YOU WILL NEVER REGRET the time you give them or spend with them.I know..because I am there now(I Blinked)how fast it goes..and It is a wonderful joyous thing.Love them..Teach them to Love the Lord..To Love each other..To Love People..To Love His Word!I have made many mistakes over the years.When a kid knows that you love them…and you ask for forgiveness..they will forgive.I find it comical that my 25yr.old grown son thinks that the worst argument my husband and I ever had was over a finger nail file.Yep–I was filing my nails in the car and it was driving my husband he grabbed it, threw it out the window and I called him insensitive..That was it! I only share this to say that It was not the worst argument we ever had but that’s what he remembers..and he thinks it was just comical! We had a kid rebel! Big Time! It was the hardest thing we ever went through..Hurt-Pain-Anger..It was all there and he only remembers the finger nail file thing..Praise God!!
    I am so Thankful to the Lord because even though we went through this..that all of my Children are walking with the Lord! In the midst of the entire thing..the one who was going through this..(5 yrs.ago)yelled out..”Why do you think I am still here..Because I love you all so much”!! I am so thankful for the Lord’s Grace and Mercy.
    All of my grown children have told me that they are Thankful for all I have done for them while they were growing up.I am just a Mom who has made mistakes..asked for forgiveness..prays hard for my kids..and loves the Lord! Our grown kids have been able to reach out to people with the great news of the gospel more than I ever could have imagined! Keep at it Mommies!! I am still encouraged reading all these posts!!

  8. Laura says:

    Thank you for writing this post. As I wife and mother who homeschools, the points you make are very encouraging especially with all the pressure we can put on ourselves to conform to how other Christians operate. And, another point I’ve thought about is this: sometimes, especially if a man is not leading his family or following Christ himself, the wife feels like she has to do it all, including evangelism, which just thinking about is overwhelming with everything else she may be trying to solidify in her family and in her own life especially if she was not trained to follow Christ by her own family as a child.

    While it is important to be Christ to those you may encounter everyday, and thus be an example to your children, I think those opportunities come organically by God and not from obligation to be outward focused. We cannot keep from being seen by others (as if we live in a box, and don’t have neighbors, or go to the store or anywhere else where other people might be)…. Now, I must tend to my little lights.

    • Word Warrior says:


      “I think those opportunities come organically by God..”

      How perfectly true this is, and how much we miss it!! God is able and we don’t have to orchestrate evangelism…it is the natural outflow of a life sold out to Him.

  9. Susan McCurdy says:

    Interesting conversation and comments. I agree that our family is our first mission field. I would, however, like to emphasize that we, as homeschoolers, have lost a connection with the local church. Being a part of a local body is a directive of the New Testament (that we all say we love and follow). God set up the local church with Bishops, Elders, pastor-teachers. He gave guidelines for communion, community, discipline etc. Homeschoolers tend to forget that this is part of the Scripture as much as Deut. 6. A homeschool group or a homeschooling family is not a local church. God gave his commission to the body and his way of working that out is clearly seen in the Epistles….through the local church. This is not to say you can’t meet in homes but I do see a definite organization and authority structure given in the New Testament for a local body of THE CHURCH to operate. Thanks for this thought provoking post.

    • Keri says:

      Hi Susan, I have to say that is so very important and homeschool groups should never take the place of our local church.I also have to say That NO Bishop, Elder, Deacon or Pastor-Teacher should EVER try to take away the authority that the Lord has given the parents in raising children!I have been in churches where sadly this has happened and it is a horrible thing to watch.I’m not saying that this was what you were implying but for some jumped out at me..We are to be so careful because sadly..sometimes those in “Authority”..don’t always have the best interest of our family in mind. I am For The Church!! but I may not always agree with someones “personal opinion” on what we should be doing as parents. My husband and I have actually been told that our three adult unmarried children should not be living at home anymore..from someone pretty “up there” I guess you could say in our church.We love him and forgave opinions I guess. There is just some kool-aid I am not going to drink!!

      • Susan McCurdy says:

        Keri, I agree with you…there is some “kool-aid” we just shouldn’t drink. (I heard it called “kook-aid” today and maybe that is a more appropriate! Ha!) I just see too many homeschoolers abandoning the local church for the “homeschool support group.” It is sad. Both have their place. I know there are no perfect churches but I am reminded in Scripture that there is one for me to be a part of and I need to take my place there and be committed to that local body! I appreciate the perspective of your comments.

    • Patricia says:

      Hi Susan,

      I agree that it is important that homeschoolers not abandon the church, but on the flip side, some churches are perplexed by or even hostile to homeschoolers. Our following story probably represents an extreme situation, but it is something God has used to teach us not to give up on the eternal purpose of integration into the church.

      We attended a church for 10 years that gradually veered towards the latter attitude. Some in the leadership, and many in the congregation, held a very strong public school focus and viewed homeschoolers as an abberation to our community (hailed for its great school system.) The harrasment and exclusion became so pointed that we reluctantly made the choice to peacefully part company before our children were turned off to church. This was sad, because we have never proselytized homeschooling, and were respectful of other families’ educational choices.

      Although a hard decision, as we’ve never left a church unless a cross-country move was involved, God seems to be using this experience to disperse our former “homeschool ghetto” within that body of believers. Now all of these homeschool families have been led to other fellowships where they and their children have been welcomed to serve and worship freely.

      God is sovereign and knows our future within The Church Universal, and each purpose of individual churches. We are now in a church where homeschoolers and brick & mortar schoolers can coexist while they grow in their love for the Lord, His Bride, and can learn to reach the lost together.

      • Susan McCurdy says:

        Thanks Patricia. I agree there are some churches that are hostile to homeschooling and I agree that there may be another church better suited to make serving together possible. My main concern is mainly that homeschoolers don’t start viewing the “support group” as thier church.

  10. Erica says:

    A BIG, HUGE THANK YOU! Having 6 kids in 20th “sets”….teens & then 4, 5 & 6 yrs I really needed this to reaffirm what I pretty much already knew. When my older 3 were younger I spent too much time growing a children ministry group, which led to then growing a youth ministry, and ultimately a young adult ministry as well. Let’s just say the church was filled with the older generation who seemed to feel they had already “done their time” & we did not have many young adults that were willing to step forward and make the changes that were so obviously needed for furture generations. Sadly, after getting all these groups up and running I was burnt out. I also realized that I had, in a way, neglected my “main” minstry….my family! After 8 yrs of struggling to have anymore children – only to finally be blessed with 3 successful pregnancies in as many years, I was able to see where I was needed most – at home with my family! It has been the biggest joy to be available for all my children whenever they need me. But I have also found new ways to teach my children of God’s love by finding ways to minister as a family!

    Every year at Christmas the children work together in order to gather clothing & toys they no longer have need of which then goes to children who wouldn’t have Christmas without the kindness of strangers. We cook a nice meal for each family we help and our entire family delivers everything together. It is so rewarding to see my children’s reactions & to hear them making plans for the coming year!

    They have even come up with the idea of having a lemonade stand & bake sale at our yearly yard sale, with their proceeds going to the Shriner’s Burn Center in Cincinnati, OHIO.

    I am so happy that God blessed me with this opportunity to teach ME that my ministry needs to begin with my own family…and to show me through my children that we can still reach outside of our home to help others without denying our own needs! I use to believe that if there was a need….ANY need….that if I didn’t end up twisted into a pretzel that meant I wasn’t putting God first and I use to always feel guilty about it. Now I know better. Life is much more enjoyable AND I know my children are getting more out of everything this way!

  11. laura says:

    Great post! Such wisdom and truth!

  12. Gloria says:

    HI I had 4 children and we are catholic and tried very hard to bring them all up through the CCD program they had at the church we went to because we did not have a catholic school in our area at the time. My husband and I worked with them all the way through K-highschool but after that they went on to college and 2 of them lost there way to continue their journey with the Lord. It has made us very sad that they did not continue on with God in their lives because we tried so hard to be good parents and teach them everything they needed to know. We were a pretty tight knit family and they all knew right from wrong. I do thank GOD for the two that have stuck with the church and are teaching their chldren well. I DO NOT THINK YOU CAN DO TO MUCH TEACHING ABOUT GOD IN THEIR LIVES. If I had to do it alover again I would have Homeschooled them all in their religion classes. Thank you for listening Gloria from Montana.

  13. Laura A. says:

    Hey Kelly,
    Thanks for the post. I recently had a coupla eye openers myself…For background with all these Lauras commenting, I have four boys and stay home/homeschool, and have a wonderful husband of 10 years. I have been really struggling with purpose and meaning lately, and a strange combination of boredom/craziness in our day to day living…I only “homeschool” my two oldest…Hubby works a job that we cannot do with him, and he is gone anywhere from 40-60 hours in a week, so I am it for many long days. Anyhow, we’ve been praying that the Lord would direct us into some venue that would allow us to work together as a family more, and give my hubby some opportunity to work with his older boys…nothing…pray…nothing…try to sell the house…nothing… The more I looked around at things, our finances, our one car, some of the difficulties with our kids(like all four kids wetting the bed one night…), sibling rivalry, homeschool, housework, and on an on and I began to feel swallowed up and chewed and spit out by it all…and didn’t want any of it…I began to think, “This is not where I pictured myself 10 years into our life as a family.” A HUGE discontent grew in me…And EVERY job and task around the house seemed like an insult and took a huge amount of emotional effort to accomplish…all my responsibilities were grabbing at me from every side and many days I just wanted to scream, cry or disappear…and after the kids were in bed, I wanted to read a book and not look at dishes or laundry or anything else…
    Well, one night I was listening to Voddie Baucham while cutting out cushion covers for my couch(that hubby and I reupholstered for about $20 thanks to thrift store curtains!). It was the #4 part on Love and Marriage, and directed towards women…oh my goodness…he nailed it on the head…I was a rebellious woman…toward God…in that I had not been submissive to my father’s authority, and hence REALLY struggled with it toward my husband, also…The scary part is, I am a strong proponent of submission and have read many many books on it over the years…and see its value…but the fruit in my LIFE was saying that I was bucking God by bucking the authority HE established for me…and along with that, I was stuck in a REALLY bad snit/pout…of self pity…Truly, I was pouting…that my life was where it was, and that I had so much repititious work, and a husband who worked long hours, and so little money, and I was disappearing under it all…and I felt like a beaten down servant who didn’t matter…my dreams, hopes, fears were all useless, meaningless…etc…hence, why even doing dishes was hugely stressful to me…It’s been ages since I have cried and felt deep conviction during a sermon of any kind, but I cried that night! over the next 24 hours I confessed to God my wrongful attitudes about my family, my dad, my husband etc. The next day, as I worked around the house and did my work, I felt like every time I came up against a problem that needed a solution, the answer was handed to me…and worked…Housework was done and I felt light, and free and patient with my kids and able to handle sibling issues without feeling like they were attacking ME!! I haven’t been in a state of peace/serenity like this for years…and somehow, it’s truly like blinders have been taken off my eyes, and I have been give the ability to SEE that my work in the home IS important and even crucial…our existence as a family unit…IS kingdom work…thank God for his ability to free us from ourselves…and thank you Kelly, for praying for me and my family…

    • Meg says:

      I just wanted to thank you Laura for sharing that and opening up about your struggles! I feel like I could’ve written that myself! When I truly surrendered to God and allowed myself to accept this task He entrusted to me…well things just started to go smoother. Not that everyday is full of rainbows and lollipops 😉 But on those hard days I know my purpose and have a chance to reaffirm my goals and priorities.

    • Word Warrior says:


      You don’t know what joy reading this brought to me. I have been praying, and what an incredible thing to see how the Lord has worked in your heart! It is so easy to see how so many women have been swept away and deceived, leaving the difficulties of cultivating home life behind. It is hard. And for some, especially hard. But I love that the Lord can change our perspective and the same duties can become sweet to us.

      This really encouraged me. I may refer to it when I’m feeling “put out” by my duties.

      I am slowly becoming more aware of how the “child-likeness” of my children is just that–not something to get frustrated over if they make another mess or haven’t “got it” yet. It is my job to walk beside them patiently, for years, slowly molding them and not expecting everyone to just fall in line over night. If that makes sense 😉

  14. Deborah says:

    The household as little church is just the flip side of the church being “the household of faith”.

  15. Charity says:

    This is *such* an encouraging post! Thank you! My husband read it after me and said he was ready to run around the house ‘a hoopin and a hollerin’. 🙂

    • Word Warrior says:

      LOL! Charity, that just made my day. But you know, I prayed specifically, as I prepared to write this…”Lord, give me Your words”. So I can’t take credit for any strange behavior this post may evoke 😉

      • Charity says:

        It was an awesome thing to see him so encouraged and fired up from reading this. It seems there is more encouragement out there for us mothers (although hard to find at times) than there is for the leaders of our homes (husbands). We still haven’t found a church and lately I have watched my husband become very discouraged in his role, going at it with no leadership from a pastor, etc. I have prayed so hard that the Lord would encourage him and hold him up in his role as leader of our home. I cannot imagine the pressure he is under and the load that is upon his shoulders as head of our household. This post was nothing short of an answer to my prayers.

  16. Sherry says:

    Thanks, Kelly, for this post. It took us a number of years to realize everything you have posted here. Yes, folks can put anything up as an idol, the Israelites eventually worshiped the snake on the cross, didn’t they?

    If folks are looking for “the family” to be an answer to their heart’s deepest longings, they are looking in the wrong place. Christ is the only One that should be worshiped, and even the best families will suffer heartache.

    Having said that, we were involved in official ministry for many years and are convinced that, in a country that has television and radio stations sending out the Gospel message 24/7, we have missed our greatest opportunities right in our homes, in the discipling of our own children.

    We have raised 7 children, with 8 to go, and none of them are “perfect” followers of Christ, but there is something we have that no one can take away from us; we know we did our best to model a living relationship with our God every day of their lives with us. We had to ignore and sometimes fight to keep the sanctity of our home, but it was worth it, even though my husband was acting in an official ministry role.

    If we don’t take the best years of our children’s lives to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, who will do it for us?–the Sunday school teacher who sees them for an hour or two a week?

  17. Heather says:

    Kelly you did it again! Another hum dinger of a post. I reposted to my facebook. Great job. I so look forward to your posts!

  18. Mrs. S says:

    Thanks for this post. This is something that I think about a lot as I realize motherhood will take almost all my energy now that I have 3 children (and hope for more!). I struggle because in Christian culture I should be doing more…it is even preached at our church that we should be getting out there, doing all this community stuff, being “missional” (I almost run from the word when I hear it now)….Whenever I try to though I crumble under all the activity and then my family does.

    Prasie the Lord I have a Titus 2 older lady as my mentor at our church and she told me that the Lord does not call us to do complicated things. Just do the work the Lord has for me at hand with faith. She is always encouraging me to stay home and that homeschooling and all that takes tons of energy but that is okay. She tells me that we will be sharing the gospel as a family at this stage in our life. I have also found that is my heart and eyes are open I frequently have people to share Christ’s love and peace with. It just overflows naturally. We gave great relationships and are able to love our neighbors well simply because we are at home and available to love them!

    This ties into birth control mentality too. I think that since we see children as someTHING WE give ourselves, we don’t see them as people the Lord gave us to minister to. Children are just another preventable hinderance/idol/thing we have unnecessarily put in our way to sharing the gospel with everyone out there. People in my community need Jesus, but the Lord of all Creation gave me these children who need Jesus too. Knowing my children come from the Lord, by His hand is what makes my work at home important. I just really think that if children are going to hinder me from keeping His commands, loving God and others, then God will stop giving them to me!

    Of course I can make my family an idol, but that is an issue of the heart. I do not expect my family to fill me with the love that only God can. It is not their job to be perfect to boost my identity and pride. Only Christ can be my identity, boast, and ultimate source of love.

  19. Jessica says:

    Thanks for your post! I’m a young mom (my oldest is 13 mo and number 2 is due in December) trying to figure out how to raise my children and realizing that the model I’ve seen most of my life doesn’t work. Our church is FULL of older adults who have been believers for years, raised their children in the church, and yet as adults their children are totally rebelling against God. So I wonder, why is this so normal? What in the world were they doing (or not doing) that I need to do differently? One family I know just lost their 19-year-old son to suicide yesterday. Why didn’t he have hope? If he had loved Jesus this wouldn’t have happened…but he didn’t.
    I look at my little son and wonder, how could I focus too much on someone so valuable?

  20. Evelyn says:

    Dear Sweet Readers and Writers,
    I pray that you received this from a woman who is passed you in years, in experience and in, many cases, heart-ache. Thirty-five years ago my husband and I started our family and in the course of our surrender of our child-bearing to the Lord we were blessed with 9 children (living) and 4 babes in heaven. I would not trade my precious babes for anything in the world. Of course, none of them are babes now: our youngest is 20. All of our children are gone from our home now and for the last several years I have had time to reflect upon our choices and our understanding of family. All of our children were homeschooled through high-school. We were a part of that pioneering generation in the early 80’s who homeschooled during the “illegal” years. It was an exciting and anxious time, and I remember clinging desperately to the “promises” of God if I would just “train up my children” and “talk with them when they were awake and asleep, walking and sitting.” We literally wrote Scripture on our door-frames We followed the council of many of the early homeschool pioneer “experts.” We were young and desperate for leading. And since the Bible does not spell out what a “quiver-full, homeschool” family specifically looks like, we relied upon the “wisdom” of others to help us flesh that out. In many ways, we did what so many of you young women are doing here – except we didn’t have the internet and blogs. There were so many wonderful things about homeschooling all of those years. And I do not regret that we committed to that, nor do I regret that we committed to allowing God to have complete control over our family size. However, I do have many regrets, and I feel lovingly compelled to share those with you here since I “see” and “hear” so many of my own pitfalls interwoven in the commentary here in this place – and many other blogs like this one.

    As I look back and think of the one thing that I would have done differently (that would have completely changed my heart towards everything) would be that I would not have looked OUT THERE so much to determine what I should be doing in my own home. What I mean by that is, so much of my time and energy was spent looking at “other” families and evaluating what they were doing “wrong” and attempting to determine how my family would do that “right.” Were their children poorly behaved? How can I make mine so that they are not? Were their daughters immodest or not domestically-inclined? I would ensure that mine were above reproach on these issues. Did their family spend too much time away from the home involved in sports or other activities? My family would be at home ALL the time, just so that we wouldn’t be “like them.” Were their sons footloose and fancy-free? My sons would work hard from sun up from sun down as so to become men of valor and ethic to one day lead families. And on and on and on. Of course, when I was doing all of this, I would not have told you that this was what I was doing. I would have told you that I had arrived at all of this from my own personal study of God’s Word. But now, looking back, I realize that my own study of God’s Word was read through the lens of what so many in the “community” had already established was right, and good, and true. Our children were good. They were well behaved. They were well spoken. My daughters could run my home on their own by the time they were 10. My sons had a work ethic that could have provided for their own family by the time they were 12 or 14. Each of our children memorized large quantities of Scripture and made “professions of faith”. And eventually, because our children had accomplished all of these things we were called upon to “encourage” and “teach” others how to arrive at the same product.

    And then, one-by-one, it all came crashing down. One by one, our children – our beloved “blessings” turned away from us, our faith, and our God. Currently 2 of our 9 children are walking with the Lord. Now, I know what you are thinking, “Yes, but you must have done X, Y, and Z wrong, and I am not going to do that.” But dear ones, you are doing what we did wrong. As I read the comments here, the writings of this blog and so many like it, you are doing exactly what we did: You are looking OUT THERE and determining that it will not happen “in your home.” You are listening to the “experts”, quoting them and one another, and seeking the Scriptures in this light. You are assuming that God thinks that you, your way, and your method is right. And just like me, you are sadly misled.

    Now this is not to say that God does not indeed value families and the blessing of children. It does not mean that God has not called us to protect our children and guide them. But how that looks from home to home is so vastly different. And we will NEVER arrive as to what that looks like in OUR homes until we quit looking OUT THERE and start looking INSIDE first. A word that was given to me many years ago that sums this up is this:

    Shallow, me-centered religion prays, “Lord, please don’t let me be like them.”
    Christ-centered surrender falls to our knees and cries out, “Lord, make me like HIM!”

    Dear mother’s, I urge you, please stop looking OUTWARD for your answers. Cry out to Jesus to change you to be like Him. Don’t let the well-intentioned council of another betray what God wants to speak into your heart about your home and your children. So much of what is being spoken here, across the web, in books and conferences is the same message just re-packaged for a new generation. You are placing your family into a great laboratory experiment at the instruction of scientists who have not yet proven the method faithful for their own homes. Most you here still have all of your children at home. You do not yet know what the result of your training will be. And the current generation experts are in the same boat as you: they have not seen the fruit of their labor. Bible history and church history and world history from the last six thousand years is conclusive: God raises up godly children from wicked families and He puts asunder children from “godly” families. If you need evidence, consider the following examples:

    Hannah entrusted the largest portion of her son Samuels’s spiritual training to Eli: the priest whose own sons were so wicked that God killed them. And God held Eli responsible. How many of you would have made this choice? But Hannah trusted God.

    King David is called a “man after God’s own heart” and among being an adulterer, murderer and polygamist, most of his children recorded in the Bible were wicked and vile.

    Rahab was a pagan prostitute. And yet God chose her to carry the line of the Savior.
    Jonathan Edwards, the amazing evangelist of the Great Awakening had 11 children. Out of the 11 only 2 – 3 are known to have carried any spiritual legacy of any notability.

    And I could go on and on and on. By my point is this, the great experiment of human history proves one thing: God alone moves souls to embrace Him. Our feeble attempts to create environments to which our children will embrace our faith is just that: feeble. No amount of modesty in our girls, chivalry in our boys, arrows in our quiver, family worship, homeschool, or protective separation will ever change that.

    Does this mean that we just quit training? Quit striving? No. But what I would encourage you in is this: STOP READING!! Read nothing except the Scriptures. And ask God to purge you from the bias that has placed in your heart by well-intentioned people. Your family is too precious to be part of their experiment. I am just one of many who have experienced this.

    I can already imagine the responses to my comment. I could almost write them. I remember them too well. Please know dear ones that I am not troubled by the fact that most of my dear children have walked away from what we established for them. Actually, I am relieved. Really! Why, you say? Because now, outside of the manufactured “mini-church” (quoting this post) that my husband and I lovingly created, I know that God can actually get a hold of their hearts in a way that only HE can create. I eagerly await watching Him redeem them to Himself in the way that He longed to do in our home. Unfortunately I was too busy trying to not LOOK LIKE “THEM” to allow God to do His work.

    Ultimately you have to ask yourselves, “Do I want my children to LOVE Jesus. Period. Or do I want my children to love Jesus and grow up to make homes that look just like the one I have created.” If your answer is not the former, please ask God to change your heart.

    With warmest regards.

    • Word Warrior says:


      I’m not upset at your comment and really appreciate your admonition here.

      I am sad that you lump “this blog” in with something you describe to be in opposition to Scripture (i.e. “man’s word”). I would be curious how much of it (the blog) you’ve read.

      Your point about only God moving a soul to Him is 100% true! I certainly have never pretended or written here that if you’ll just do a.b.c. you’re children will all turn out to serve Him.

      In fact, I’ve written many times of the importance of doing “our part”, as SCRIPTURE instructs, but knowing that ultimately the Lord redeems the soul and calls one to Himself. There is nothing we can do to turn the heart and YET…we are absolutely called to be diligent, faithful and steadfast in teaching them of the Lord. That is what Scripture teaches and you will find me writing nothing different here.

      Sadly, some families, like you described, having made an “idol” of their methods, do come out sorely disappointed when the “product” isn’t the result they expected. We have to be so careful and I appreciate your warning in that.

      It is HIS grace alone that calls the heart. And yet we are no less responsible to parent with all OUR hearts, sewing the seeds of our faith, praying that they will take root.

      • Evelyn says:

        Dearest Kelly,
        I do apologize that I gave you need to defend yourself and your blog. Truly that was not my intent. I think, maybe, because I grew up in another country I don’t always write in the social graces of this country (albeit I have been here for more than 30 years!) and maybe I wrote something that was misunderstood.

        I would like to clarify on just a couple of points that you raised in your reply. I don’t believe that I wrote anywhere that your blog or writing was in “opposition” to Scripture. That would imply that I think the ideas here are “anti-Scripture.” I guess I would say that much of the commentary here is “extra-Scriptural” — not opposed to it, but not explicitly mapped out exactly the way that you and your readers/commenters portray it to be. It is not wrong, so much, as it is important to recognize that it isn’t “inspired.” For example, I whole-heartedly agree with your comment, “we are absolutely called to be diligent, faithful and steadfast in teaching them of the Lord. That is what Scripture teaches and you will find me writing nothing different here.” Yes. The Scripture does call us to be dilligent, faithful and steadfast in the teaching of the Lord. How each family is lead of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this though is as diverse as the stars in the heaven.

        I see that your paticular “bent” or “take” on these truths heavily weigh towards childbaring and homeschooling. If you don’t believe me, look over at your side-bar. You have 5 buttons highlighting differnt topics that you want to draw attention to. Most bloggers do this to provide emphasis as to what they write about, what is important, etc. It is where first-time visitors often click first. In your side-buttons you give 12 points to growing relationships at home; 10 points to saving money; 7 points to a happier home; 25 points on why you homeschool and 20 points on birth control. A casual look reveals what your heart is eager about. And I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with this. What I am suggesting is that in a blog where the tagline is “growing families rooted in Christ” and the primary topics seem to be homeschooling and child-bearing, there may be some things missing. Things that were missing from my home because like you, I also was over-zealous over my convictions on the Scriptures as I saw them relating to these topics…and the other “buzz” topics that seem to revolve around many homeschool families (daughters at home, courtship, modesty, etc…).

        I guess I am just asking you to take a sober look. You and all of your readers. Maybe you are not wrong. Maybe you are just missing something. I know I was. I know I still am. I know that each day I have to cry out to Jesus to reveal HIS will and plan, because I realize how easy it is for me to twist and manipulate — even with good intention — so that I make what I want what I think is what He wants.

        And most of the time, that just isn’t the case.

        And as for how long I have been reading: on and off for a little over five years. I am a not a new face. But this was the first time I felt compelled to comment. Thank you for allowing me to do that.

        Blessings to you and your family.

        • Word Warrior says:


          I absolutely agree with you. And to ease your mind ;-), we have taken a sober look and certainly do not hold “methods” as our hope. Even as we struggle immensely (daily) with one of our children (not just “typical” struggles), the Lord reminds us that only His grace can capture the heart.

          To clarify my position a bit, regarding the sidebar topics, I think these are the topics I feel are at the *heart* of so many family trials. In a culture who has rejected God’s view of children and forgotten our grave responsibility to disciple them, these issues have so many negative, reciprocating effects that I have felt compelled to encourage families there. But HOPEFULLY, and I do try hard here, readers also see that raising a family only BEGINS with discipleship and the right view of children. There is the daily taking up of crosses, falling before His throne, forgiving one another, pouring out grace to one another, loving one another, and as Keri put is so well, BEING REAL and living out our faith.

          None of us do it perfectly, not even close. And sometimes we don’t get the “results” we were looking for. The only thing we can do is live a life sold out to Him, look to the Author and Finisher of our faith, praying that He will gather the souls of our children, water the seeds we’ve planted, and pour out His grace amid our mistakes.

          Thank you again, for this good word. (In a hurry, no time for editing 😉

    • Liz says:

      Your post spoke right to me. When I became a believer, I wasn’t in any religious circles and therefore enjoyed a very exclusive relationship with the Lord. There weren’t any other voices telling me what to do or not to do, what was “right” or “best” or anything, just the Word of God. As I dove into the Word, He lead me on a rollercoaster of circumstances that could have only been from Him. It was a sweet, exhilerating, life-changing, sanctifying season in my walk with Him that I will always look back on with such fondness. Fast forward a couple of years and I was engaged, and I felt like I was so behind. How in the world was I supposed to be a biblical wife to my soon-to-be husband?? Well, instead of continuing to read the Bible to become a biblical wife…I googled “biblical womanhood.” And I came across blogs like this one, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Visionary Womanhood (now Flying Free–of which the transition has been very eye-opening to follow the past few years), the Duggers, etc. And really, it seems that ever since then, my relationship with the Lord has struggled to take precedence. Now, is this the fault of the bloggers, no. Is this the fault of my own sinful, idolatrous heart? Yes of course. There are so many factors that play into why this has been the case for me. Nevertheless, I do wonder how prevalent this is among especially my generation (30-somethings), to seek what “they” are doing “out there” and form our biases and opinions on their lives and what seems to work for them versus solely and truly seeking the Lord for our own lives. We are surrounded with information constantly and instantly at our beck and call and it can be so frighteningly and frustratingly easy to let that relationship with the Lord slip right through our fingertips, all while thinking (often pridefully in my case) we are doing all the “right” things within our families. Thanks for sharing, Evelyn; it was sobering to read your post. I feel like I can so easily see myself in your shoes in 30 years.

  21. Keri says:

    Kelly, You are absolutely right when you say that it is His grace alone that calls the heart.And yet we are no less responsible to parent with all our hearts,sewing the seeds of our faith,praying that they will take root.
    I am saddened by the things Evelyn has written and I am not judging her.I have seen to many families where this has happened and believe families story is not finished yet.
    I can encourage you and tell you as the mom to four adult children who have not walked away from the Lord that it is possible for them to walk with the Lord into their adult years. I have been around many families (homeschooled)whom I have watched as the kids grew up and out, that went the total other direction. I have also known families whose kids went to public school who are strong christian adults that are sold out for the Lord. We can’t look at someone else’s family and try to model our family after them but we can learn and be encouraged. We can’t be ANGRY with our kids..with our husbands..and others..It will send our kids in the other direction quickly.Hypocracy will send our kids out into the world! Most importantly..they need to see Faith that is so real.I’m going to be practical here.Do your kids see you crying out to the Lord? Do they see you helping someone because you truly care? Do they see you sharing the gospel??ever?? Do they see lives changed because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Has anyone in your church EVER gone forward and cried out to be saved? Do they see your loving marraige? Do they see you as parents when you make mistakes ask for forgiveness? Do they hear you having “roast Pastor” for lunch when you come home from church? Do you share examples of what the Lord is doing in your life.Do your kids..small and grown..know that they can come to you to talk to you about anything and you won’t flip out?..and if you do for a moment that you will ask forgiveness..and the list can go on and on. We don’t need to fear..sorry Kelly, I was just concerned that to many moms would find that post to discouraging..

    • Word Warrior says:

      Thank you, Keri–you have so many good and wonderful things to say here–so true, living out a life of REAL faith is the crux, I think. Thank you for your encouragement!!

      And remembering that even that doesn’t guarantee that our children will all serve Him…but still, regardless of “the possibilities”, I don’t want young women to buy in to the idea that “it doesn’t really matter”. We still have our responsibility.

      I love something the Lord said to Jeremiah about the people he was to speak to, not that I would compare our children to them, when Jeremiah told the Lord that the people “would not listen”, God said to him, “you tell them the words I have commanded you. If they will not listen, I will require their blood. But if you refuse to tell them, I will require their blood at your hands.”

      Just a word about our responsibility.

  22. jen in AL says:

    love this: “We had better get inward focused if we want to see real outward change in the world for Christ.” I have often observed a logic fallacy, a straw man that gets erected that states to be focused on the discipleship of your family first somehow means that you are not focused on the Great Commission or on the lost. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unfortunately, anything can be warped or twisted by our sinful hearts including family discipleship but that does not mean that it isn’t biblical. Our hearts need changing not the Bible. We need wisdom not knee jerk reactions or man-made philosophies that alleviate our responsibility as those primarily responsible for the raising of the children God blesses us with or man-made philosophies/formulas that require unbiblical standards be put on our families. Kelly, I love that your heart is so tender toward the Lord and His ways. It is always such a blessing to read this blog!!!! Great post!

  23. Angie says:

    This is lovely. I really struggled with keeping my kids home this year. I have questioned my reasons behind “why” I HS. I always come back to this reason. Thank you Lord.

  24. Laura G says:


    I am the mother of eleven children, 8 who are through with high school and in various stages of adulthood. Four are married with children (our 9th grandchild is due in Dec) three more are in serious relationships aimed at marriage. It was one of my married daughters who recommended this blog to me saying that I would “absolutely love it”. And I do. It is refreshing to see a young woman of the next generation continuing to hold forth Biblical values of marriage, family, childbearing and rearing as part of the high calling of motherhood…a lost and dying art without which our civilization will certainly crumble.

    Our three oldest married children have chosen to home educate, which came as a big surprise to me, as I thought that I had failed enough in my efforts to home educate all of them that they would run the other direction. So far, they are enjoying the experience and experiencing success. Of our adult children, all of them seem to be living lives faithful to the Lord, some more passionate than others, but none have left the faith.

    Evelyn’s post totally made sense to me, even in the context of our relative “success” with our children. Our childrens’ continuing in the faith really has so little to do with our methods, standards, practices or programs. We failed much more often than we did things right. I believe the key is that we recognized our failure and were rendered hopeless by it. Which drove us to the arms of Christ time and again. We had no formulas to offer, or blueprints to duplicate for others. Our children watched us fail, repent, beg their forgiveness and then do it all over again. And we watched them fail, repent and cry out for mercy. Which we gave, for what it was worth. Bottom line, we walked through life together, falling down and getting up, falling down and getting up, falling down and getting up. With grace and forgiveness toward the fallen one, knowing that our turn to fall was coming and they would be there to help us up as we had helped them. Our children learned much through our failures. First, to never put their confidence in “princes” nor depend on man for help. They saw that the Lord was the only one worthy of their trust and learned to cling to Him. That has always been our prayer. Be careful how you pray because if it’s something God wants, he will always say yes.

    Evelyn, I grieve with you over past failures and their ramifications. But as I said to one of my grown sons just tonight who is hurting deeply over a relationship destroyed by sin, “God is writing your story…and it’s not over yet” Our Hope is in the Author and Finisher of our (and our children’s) faith.

    Kelly, keep on speaking truth to this generation of mothers and fathers. Don’t shrink back, even though some will try to make an idol out of YOU and your words. There is no system of childrearing or marriage which is foolproof. The book of Proverbs, so full of promises that “if you do this good thing, then this other good thing will happen”, is followed immediately by the book of Ecclesiates, written by the same wise man, Solomon, In this book, he says, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity”. At the end of his proverbial life, things didn’t turn out the way he had hoped.

    All “success” in marriage and parenting and schooling and civilization itself is a gift of God, a product not of following an easy (or difficult) 10 step program, but of following Christ, wherever He leads. It’s harder to be still and listen to Him each day than it is to read a few books, attend a couple of seminars, follow a set of rules or even have a couple of kids and experience relative success with them. I appreciate both yours (Kelly) and Evelyn’s genuine insights into family life. One of you looking forward and the other looking back. Thank you both for sharing your lives and all you’ve learned with the rest of us.

    Laura G.

    • Evelyn says:

      God’s blessing on you Laura. Such precious and needed wisdom from women on “our side” of the perspective. God IS still writing all of our stories! To HIM be the Glory!!

  25. SavedbyGrace says:

    I believe with all my heart that a wife’s mission field is her family. I believe homeschooling is God’s desire for us mom’s too. What we seem to be forgetting is the power of 2. 2 people with a determination to do things God’s way. It’s doing it God’s way that makes the difference and looking at the world to find validation is simply not God’s way. God’s way is contrary to the worlds way.

    We also find the following at work in the power of 2 – when God’s ways are applied in our life & our child rearing then our children build God honoring families & our grands etc. etc. The churches growth should be geometric 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 & so on. It’s families that build the church of Jesus Christ – that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for the work of single people lest anyone get a burr in their bonnet but I’m not addressing singles here. If we parent’s rear up God-fearing, God honoring children then the world will change. It’s when parents give up their God-given responsibility that we end up where we are & that’s the shame of it. I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to apply 1 Tim. 5:8 to our child rearing – when we neglect our children’s scriptural education we are truly worse than infidels.

    • Misstates says:

      I agree with you, SBG, except to echo so many above in saying that we can’t *make* our children grow up to be God-fearing, God-honoring children. We can only encourage and foster that attitude by the example we set and how we treat them. I know that is probably what you meant.

  26. Mrs. D says:

    I didn’t realize this article was so old. Thank you for reposting it. =)

    So much of this article spoke to me, and I had to share it with my husband. We were talking about this subject with our children after church. Yes, God wants us to take care of the world around us. But, the very first thing that He told Adam and Eve was to have children! Then, He told them to take care of the world! =) So much of the Bible is dedicated to raising, training, and caring for the family God has given us.

    Thank you for your encouraging posts! =)

  27. WillyB says:

    Ask to review your local public school books.
    Sit in on some classes, especially those used
    to ‘correct’ bias caused by ‘old fashioned’ parents.
    Then decide if you want to discard your children
    to the care and instruction of the public school.

    Jesus made mention that someone who caused harm to
    a ‘little one’ would be better off cast into the sea..
    Matt 18:6…

  28. Sally says:

    In the scripture listing qualifications for elders, there’s no mention of having a well developed “ministry”, but the elder must have his family in order. Women are commanded to teach the younger to love their husbands and children, the very thing so many of us give up in order to have a “ministry”. Thanks, Kelly,, for encouraging us to serve God by serving our families.

  29. Donna says:

    We are told to ‘make disciples’, not make ‘conversions’. There is no greater privilege than discipling your own children – whether that be biological or spiritual children. Discipling requires time (as you said), effort and patience.
    Thank you as always. I learn and am encouraged so much by you. Bless you.

  30. […] The Proper View of Family (Are We Too “Inward Focused?”) came in my inbox at just the right time this week.  I have spent far too much of my life letting people make me feel guilty for focusing first on discipling my children, and I’ve even found myself pulled away from the mission that I know God called me to because I have allowed people in my life to make me feel guilty for the things that I’m not doing right now. […]

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