Once in a while, I hear homeschooling referred to as a “calling.” It perplexes me. I’ve never, ever thought of it that way. I’m always a bit intrigued as to why someone would see it that way, when to me, it’s just one of a thousand parenting decisions I’ve had to make along the way. So I looked it up.
Calling. Vocation, profession, or trade. (dictionary.com) By that definition, I suppose homeschooling could be a calling. It’s definitely a vocation, i.e., a job. I’m teaching my children for several hours per day, plus grading, planning, testing, shopping, etc.
A strong impulse or inclination. (dictionary.com) Yes, it fits here, too. I always knew I would homeschool my children. I received a good education through public school up until high school. I chose to switch to homeschooling for both academic and social reasons. The familial benefits were not a factor initially, but definitely became apparent after the fact. So yes, I would say I had a strong inclination toward homeschooling my own children.
But these are both secular definitions. “I was called to ….” takes on a whole new depth of meaning when spoken by a Christian. It’s more spiritual in nature. “Calling” becomes Christianese…..one of those words that potentially confuses and turns off unbelievers and Christians alike. So what does this special version of “calling” mean?
Calling. The God-appointed vocation of a Christian. (Wikipedia Glossary of Christianity) This definition implies that God spoke to you, through one of the many ways that He does, and put forth a special request on your life. Something specific to your gifts and talents and passions.
Some would still say, even by this hyper-spiritualized definition, that homeschooling is a calling. I disagree; and here’s why.
If you are a parent, it is your responsibility to train and educate your child. That is biblical, moral, and logical. All parents must decide how they will go about that. They may choose to send their children to a public or private school to be educated. Responsible parents who choose those options will still be involved by getting to know the teachers, helping with homework, and familiarizing themselves with the curriculum being used. (Side note: In public school, I had mostly decent teachers, a few amazing ones, and a couple of duds. Don’t settle for a dud!)
Other parents will choose to educate their children themselves, taking on the full responsibility. Some will do this for their child’s entire academic career, and others will utilize public or private schools at some point. In any case, we are each responsible for the education of our children.
I did not choose homeschooling for my children because I felt called by God to do it. I chose it because I felt it was the most favorable of educational choices. I had to make a decision about how to educate my children, and I made it. Other parents view the same options and decide that sending their child to school is the most favorable choice. Are they “called” to do this? I think most would say they simply made a choice.
This post is not about homeschooling, though.
Who cares if we label something a “calling” or not? Does it matter how we categorize our decisions? In contemplating this, I tried to think of what my calling in life is. I don’t mean my purpose….I know that my purpose in life is to love God and to love others. I don’t mean my job…..my job is to be a wife to my husband and a mother to my children, raising them by the grace of God to adulthood. I honestly have never had the experience of a spiritual calling to any specific choice, ministry, or vocation. What if I had waited for it?
If I’d waited to be “called” to have children.
If I’d waited to be “called” to homeschool.
If I’d waited, as a non-crafty and very shy mama, to be “called” to plan and teach crafts to fellow moms in my MOPS group.
If I’d waited to be “called” to serve in children’s ministry at my church.
If I’d waited to be “called” to use my writing to glorify my God.
The bottom line is that if I’d waited to be supernaturally “called,” I would have missed out. I’d have missed out on so much blessing, so much grace, so much learning, and so much joy.
I’m not trying to minimize the impact of a true “being called” experience. I know many who have had these specific moments in their lives. But I don’t believe that all of God’s work comes about in this way. It often comes more quietly, in the seemingly unremarkable decisions we have to make. It comes in the service we give out of a sense of obligation, which then blesses us like we never expected. It comes through the natural progression of God’s plan for life, and marriage, and families.
I encourage you to not miss out on God’s best for you by saying, “that’s not my calling.”