Represent!

Picture DayI care about my image. I want people to see the best side of me and, consequently, my children. This seems vain; it’s really not though. Hear me out. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with who I represent.

In the world of business, employers look for people with demeanor which would properly represent their companies. Big business understands that each person within a company represents the company as a whole; a poorly dressed lawyer might misrepresent the firm and a bad mannered clerk will be a turnoff for business.

While homeschooling families are not subject to these same rules and regulations by any means, I can see where the same principle might apply. In our outings, conversations, and behaviors, we need to be careful of what we represent. As Christians this is especially true as who we represent is synonymous with what we represent.

There is no dress code in our family, our children to do not have to wear a uniform. There is no ‘code of conduct’ our children are made to memorize. We do, however, have one family policy: remember who you represent! When we leave the house for any reason (and often while we are still in it) our children are gently reminded of who and what they represent to the world.

As much as we hate to have anyone judge us, the fact is people do. For a brief moment in time people have the opportunity to view our behavior and make an assessment of our life. While their evaluation might not hold value to us, it might have a bearing on their futures. Our actions and attitudes might influence their thinking and decisions.

I have met families so turned off to homeschooling they would never consider the possibility. Was this because they had done the research and found valid arguments against it? No, it was because they had seen poor homeschooling in action and they were turned off. I have experienced people’s exasperation towards Christianity for this same reason.

Are we ultimately responsible for their possible turning away, either from homeschooling or Christianity, simply because we had an off day? Of course not. The decision to homeschool or not homeschool is completely their own personal choice. A person’s belief in Christ rests solely on their own shoulders. However, if I have an opportunity to represent either, I want to do so in the best possible light. I want people to see homeschooling at its best; I want people to be encouraged by what they see and enlightened as to what this opportunity presents. More importantly, I want people to see Christ in our family. I want them to see love, grace, kindness, respect and righteousness in action.

While there will be moments when we are less than ideal, both in our learning and in our daily living, the ultimate goal is to represent our worldview in the best possible light. Before we ever reach people with our words, we reach them with our actions. What do our actions say about us?

Time to Chime In: What do you represent?

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
II Corinthians 5:20

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8 thoughts on “Represent!

  1. Very well said! And I agree: as a family with homeschooled kids it is probably even more important to make sure everything is spot on. People wait for something to pick on, and even if a kid, who goes to school gets away with it, a homeschooled kid might not… I love your approach. And I like that you clearly state: Think about what and who you represent.

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  2. The best way to prove Christianity is without ever having to say the words through your actions and so many people would rather take a cop-out route spouting the words and not thinking clearly about their actions. This is a great thing you are teaching. As for homeschooling it is an uphill battle that is making strides as more and more parents are joining the ranks after school doesn’t work for their children.

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  3. Interesting thoughts. If I may present the other side of this coin, it can be exhausting as a homeschooled child to be expected to “represent” homeschooling to the world. I know when I was young, I felt significant pressure to look and act just so to make sure that people got a good impression of homeschooling. The fault of this is as much on nosy people as anyone else, but I still have to insist that it is not a child’s responsibility to be a poster-child for a particular movement, and it’s tough being put in that situation.

    I do think you’re right when you say it’s important for children to think about what they represent when they go out. But what they represent should be themselves (and along with that, they should consider if they want themselves to be represented as kind, thoughtful, intelligent etc or mean, spiteful, thoughtless, etc). It was a huge relief to me when I finally threw out religion and no longer felt affiliated with homeschooling to finally learn to feel comfortable representing MY values, opinions, and personality to the world rather than feeling pressured to represent someone or something else. I have seen many other homeschooling alumni that feel the same.

    Obviously, since I don’t know your family personally, I can’t cast any judgments on how you treat these ideas of representation, nor would I want to. My intent is not to come off as accusatory (so I apologize if that’s how this sounds). Your post just made me think thoughts, so I wanted to put it out there and see what you think and if you’ve considered this.

    All the best, Evan

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    • I think there is a difference between being careful of what you represent and being a ‘poster child’. We all need to be careful of what we stand for, even us adults, no one is expecting any of us to be a picture perfect example of anything. The difference between the two is our motives; one is simply being image conscious and the other is purposeful edification.

      I think the difference also lies in our worldview. I do not want my children focused on themselves. Being focused on ourselves is half our problem; our culture is too self-centered. I want my children to not think of themselves and instead to think of Christ and what He would want them to do. Being Christ-centered doesn’t prevent our children from having their own opinions, values, and personalities. Rather, it implies that our desires align themselves with God’s. Apart from Christ, why should one be kind, thoughtful, intelligent, etc? Before one can begin to make statements based on value, one must have a standard by which to judge.

      Truthfully, I do not know how this situation was presented to other homeschooling children and, therefore, cannot make a call on their experiences. For us, our children are encouraged to do their best and to reflect a Christlike demeanor as often as possible. There is no unnecessary pressure and no condemnation when any of us make mistakes; only a gentle reminder to do better and to keep moving forward.

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I neither found your comments judgmental nor accusatory. I understand there are families and children who had more trying experiences within the homeschooling community and the church; my heart goes out to them. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

      Best Wishes,
      Cristina

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      • Thank you for being so gracious with your reply. I think there is a middle ground which is perhaps what we’re both aspiring to which gives children the latitude to develop themselves and respect their own needs and wants while also thinking outwardly about their impact on those around them and giving of themselves. Don’t get me wrong… I absolutely support being committed to others and being service-minded, but I think it’s easiest to give of ourselves if we are healthy, confident, and full of our own life and personality. At least, this has been my experience. I think what the world needs is not necessarily just more self-less people, but rather more people who abound in love for others that flows from an understanding of themselves and their place in the world. That’s just my opinion, of course, not absolute fact.

        I have indeed had a rather harrowing experience with the church and somewhat (but much less so) with homeschooling. However, I still have a keen interest in the homeschooling community, which is why I browse around on these tags sometimes, and I may still choose to homeschool my own children some day. 🙂 All the best to you!

        -Evan

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  4. Seriously, you sound just like my husband! Before we go anywhere, I always say, “Remember children, we are light! Even a child is known by his deeds, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” And my husband always says, “Remember who you represent! You represent Christ!” 🙂

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