Sometimes, well-meaning homeschoolers feel the need to convince other people that keeping their children at home is a must. We feel the need to cajole them into believing homeschooling is the only answer, and if they don’t homeschool something is wrong with them. While, quite obviously, we prefer to homeschool and find it is best for our family, I am very hesitant about what I share and how it is expressed. I would prefer the Lord be the one working on their hearts, not me.
Over the course of several years, there are some key things I have learned about sharing my heart with other people. Things I feel help to develop relationships and open the doors to good communication.
Earn respect. How often have we heard well-meaning advice from a complete stranger? Worse yet, someone whom you don’t respect. Before I open my mouth to speak, I ought to ask myself how well I know this person. Perhaps they are not open to receiving what I might want to communicate. I need to earn the right to be heard, not demand I be listened to.
Learn to listen. How often have we spoken to someone, only to discover we didn’t really hear all they said? Or while they were speaking, we were already trying to form our own arguments and thoughts in response? The first step in a good conversation, is listening! Taking time not to just hear the words they are speaking, but the heart of the person talking. Sometimes it is not just the statement being made, but the emotions behind them which need to be addressed.
Be humble. How much I accomplish and the efficiency in which it is done is not to my own credit. It is the Lord who has given me my gifts and it is He who continues to sustain me. They don’t need to hear about all I have accomplished; they need to see how the Lord has directed our lives and used certain circumstances to bring us to where we are. This takes the glory out of my hands and puts it where it belongs.
Be slow to judge others. Imagine how hard it would be to bare your heart to another, only to have them turn and tear you apart. In the realm of parenting, there are many methods of schooling, training, and building of relationships. I need to understand my way isn’t the only way and all of us are still learning. My responsibility is to edify, encourage, and help; not to bury them under a mound of guilt.
Let the Lord lead. It is not my job to convince someone of my argument or my way of thought. If someone is genuinely interested in what I have to say they will listen and take my thoughts into consideration. If the Lord leads, speak; and let Him do the rest.
Know when to keep quiet. There is a time to speak and there is time to remain silent. It is important to know what the situation calls for. It is okay to offer advice and express my views, but there comes a time when words are of no use. Know how to pick battles and when to walk away.
When I am offering advice or answering questions about homeschooling, I want to make sure I am not overstepping my bounds. If I have earned the right to be heard, I then need to make sure I am listening to their concerns. When I respond, my answers should be given gently and with humility. Once I have said my piece, I need to let the Lord lead them and remain quiet.
We love homeschooling, and enjoy sharing our adventure with others. Heaven forbid our calling become a burden we force upon others, or a prideful arrogance we throw in someone’s face. Instead, may we live in such a way as to bring others into the beauty of God’s presence, blessing everyone we meet.
Your Turn!: What are a few indicators which help you know when sharing about your homeschooling adventure is beneficial?