10 Life Lessons from Generation Joshua and SAT’s

ten_life_lessons_from_genjNow I know November has all but come and gone, but before the title of this post sends anyone into a panic, please allow me to put your mind to rest. This month held a lot of amazing life lessons but taking college SAT’s was not one of them. No, our little family had the opportunity and blessing of attending our first Generation Joshua Student Action Team event, and we can’t stop talking about it!

Generation Joshua is an American Christian youth organization founded in 2003 that aims to encourage young people to learn about and become involved in government, history, civics, and politics. During election months throughout the year students and their parents have the opportunity to volunteer around the United States on Student Action Teams, encouraging people to get out and vote.

Earlier this month, the girls and I spent five long days working with a local campaign alongside many other homeschooling families. Days were spent running around town, knocking on doors; while evenings were spent making thousands of phone calls. It was crazy, busy, and absolutely amazing. Through it all we learned a few life lessons.

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… – There is nothing like faith in action to give you first-hand knowledge of spiritual fruit. We quickly learned the value of patience, as waiting for the right moment to move and for everyone to be ready plays a big part in election season. We learned to be joyful in harsh circumstances. Kind toward those who would abuse us. And so much more. Our week-long experience put Scripture into action, and we learned so much.

Everyone Has Limits – We had a perfect plan set in place. Then reality hit. Some of us could not run as much as others; eating lunch mid-day proved to be problematic as we got tired afterwards; and bedtime became a serious need. Our team learned to identify our own weaknesses, and then set about a plan to strengthen the group. Our limits didn’t prevent us from reaching our goals, but it did teach us to rethink how we would accomplish them.

My Kids Far Exceed My Expectations – My children never cease to amaze me. While I think they do fairly well on a day-to-day basis, there’s nothing quite like a stressful situation to bring out the worst and the best in someone. Through this event the Lord allowed me to see my children’s gift of communication, their kindness, their teamwork, and their dedication to a task. There were a few tough moments, but overall they did exceptionally well and I’ve learned not to discount their abilities.

My Children Don’t Always Need My Help – Confession. New situations tend to make me anxious. When my children are in new circumstances, I tend to over-instruct or hover. It’s true. Student Action Teams depended on trust. Trust in my children making wise decisions, sticking together, and working smarter not harder. Trust that the Lord would protect each of us while out doing the work assigned. While I don’t know that new situations will ever make me feel entirely comfortable, SAT’s were an eye opener. My kids can do so much more than I am ready for.

Competition Can Be a Powerful Motivator – Our Generation Joshua team was divided into six smaller teams, each with its own vehicle, navigation tools, and assignments. At the end of each day, teams would meet up to compare notes and see who had reached the highest goal. All in good fun, and for the benefit of our candidate, our teams quickly caught the spirit of competition; determined to reach more people than any other team. It was amazing to see these children so motivated and ready to do a good work.

We’re Most Productive When Inspired – I’ve noticed a trend in our home. When I push and cajole, my children are likely to lose interest. Quickly. On the other hand, when I am excited – when their friends are excited – the desire to move forward comes from within them and work happens naturally. It was a blessing to see our children be inspired to action and for them to care so deeply about the person they were representing.

Everyone Has a Part to Play… – But not often the same role. We would have done far worse had we all tried to do everything. Early on, we learned to appreciate each person’s unique gifts and put them to use. Some of us were awesome runners, others were fantastic navigators. We each played a vital role, but in different capacities.

Every Little Bit Helps – We can too often get caught up in serving only when it seems we will make a big impact. But who’s to say what is big? Those delivering food to call rooms were equally important to those answering phones. As were those who emptied the trash, cleaned the tables, and filled our gas tanks. Our children leaned the value in doing the smallest of jobs, and how even little things help in the biggest of ways.

God Is Ultimately in Control – Once more we were reminded that while we may lend a hand, God does the work. We might be momentarily frustrated with how some of the elections are turning but we trust He is in control.

We Loved It! – Student Action Teams are a lot of work. I won’t lie to you. But, it was an incredible blessing. We loved being there, lending a hand, meeting new people, and serving the Lord. When people ask if we would do it again, our response is an easy, “Absolutely!”

Unfortunately, November has almost come and gone. However, we’re soaking up the last few days of the month and rejoicing in the coming holiday season. While enjoying our turkey and cranberry sauce, I’m sure we’ll all be fondly remembering the blessing of serving with local homeschool friends and sharing moments of thanks for the Lord’s blessing during our trip. We learned so much, and give God the glory for each moment of our adventure.

We’re curious… Have you ever joined a Generation Joshua SAT, or something similar? We’d love to hear all about it!

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”
~ I Peter 2:13-15

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter& Pinterest!

Advertisements

Fulfilling Our Civic Duty

fulfilling_our_civic_duty

“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government…”
~ U.S. Constitution – Article 4 Section 4

Mid-terms are upon us and it’s time to turn our attention to the voting booth. As citizens of this constitutional republic, wherein we are blessed to participate in this experiment of self-governance, we have a civic duty to be proactive in electing representatives and voting on legislation.

As parents, not just “homeschoolers”, it’s our duty to teach our children about fulfilling their civic duties. While our children’s textbooks taught them government and civics, we thought it was time to start putting what they learned into practice. So this year I decided to include the whole family in the voting process; a practice we intend to continue, hopefully, for the rest of our lives.

Begin the Voting Process With Prayer

During the Constitutional Convention, Ben Franklin declared: “In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection.- Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and by word down to future ages.”

If one of the Founding Fathers, a self-confessed deist, believed in divine intervention and called for an appeal to God based on divine scripture, certainly we who call ourselves by Christ’s name can and should do no less.

“You can’t legislate morality.”

In truth, morality is one of the few things you can legislate, and it’s important for our children to understand this. Upholding and enforcing moral principles is the main point of legislation (the other legitimate duties of government being that of adjudication and defense). Laws are passed to codify and announce to everyone that there will be a penalty for engaging in activity that violates moral principles. Thus, while there is nothing inherently wrong with driving past a pole with a red light affixed to it, it’s certainly wrong to endanger the lives of people walking or driving in the other direction, so we have rules to uphold the moral principle of not intentionally endangering others, and this principle is upheld via things like traffic-lights. We need to teach our kids that, upon examination, most laws have some underlying moral principle. The few that do not obviously require weighing other considerations.

The REAL “Voter Guide”
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” – Jeremiah 17:9

Too many people vote based on emotion (which they confuse with morality) and not via any sort of intelligent thought. This leads to much of the chaos we see today. However, we must have something to inform our deliberation, i.e., when deciding how we will vote for a candidate or laws, we need some objective standard of ethics to guide us. Given that a theistic worldview is the only one in which such an objective standard can be found, we turn to God’s word for guidance. Thus, we look at the policies of a candidate or political party or proposed legislation and see how closely all options align with Biblical principles.

Don’t Take Biased Material on Face-Value

We began by taking all of the voting materials sent to us, both the official ballots and general election guide as well as all of the junk-mail, i.e. political flyers. I passed out all of the material to everyone, and we all had a chance to read out loud the things sent to us. Needless to say the junk-mail sent out by candidates or proponents/opponents of certain legislation seriously lacked informational substance or else contained outright misinformation. The kids quickly saw how useless most of this kind of material is.

Just the Facts

After ignoring most of the junk-mail, we turned our attention to the official election material. Depending who controls the state, the names of proposed legislation and the analysis can sometimes be misleading as well. If you really, really, want to be certain what’s in a proposed bill, it’s best to read the actual text of the bill. I’ve only done this a few times with controversial laws because it can be a daunting task reading the vomit of verbose legalese used to conceal the dubious activity contained in most legislation. Certainly the kids won’t sit still to listen to me read through all of that mumbo-jumbo. So if you decide to read through a bill, do it on your own and give a brief recap to the kids so they don’t lose interest.

“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things,
to draw away disciples after them.”
~ Acts 20:30

While this verse is teaching about doctrine, it can also be applied to “Christian” churches or organizations that put out voter guides. We teach our kids not to place blind trust in such material simply because it alleges to be from a trusted source. If false teachers lie about God’s word, you can bet they’ll lie about political issues. We teach the kids to be diligent and do their homework to the best of their abilities.

Candidates for Our Republic

Again, most political mailers were not at all helpful when deciding on candidates. Usually, their political party platform is sufficient to determine their position on issues, so comparing their positions to Biblical standards is an easy enough task. One thing we impress upon our children is the Biblical principle that all of mankind are sinners and flawed individuals, so we’re not looking to elect a perfect person. Moreover, politicians will be long gone while their policies remain to wreak havoc on us and our families, so it’s best to impress upon the kids that one ought to vote based on a candidate’s policies, not the man’s flawed character. It’s those policies that will affect us for generations, not the person.

While we’re on this subject, it’s also important to impress upon our children the fallen state of the world. We can’t create heaven on earth. Any and all of our efforts will always be flawed in some way. Our choices in life, including our political choices, will be wrought with compromise of one sort or another. Often, in order to enact one law or another, it may adversely affect something else. Furthermore, electing a person who upholds one set of Biblical values may mean you have to suffer their endorsing of some unBiblical value. Few if any candidates will share every single position we hold, and even if they do so through their rhetoric, few actually do so through their practices. The point is, it will always be easy for critics to level some charge at any policy or politician, because few decisions in this life prove to be flawless or without some consequence. The guiding principle is to remain as close to God’s Word as possible and, where there are apparent conflicts of duty, seek to do the greater good.

“And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
Mark 3:25

While we, the parents, will ultimately cast the vote, we let the children know that their participation mattered in how we decided to vote. It was also important to let our kids know that, since we are looking to God’s word to guide us, we should be united and of one mind, so one family member ought not to be voting contrary to another where clear moral principles are concerned. We are not voting based on personal opinions or preferences, but according to God’s will, which seeks unity.

Make This Family Event Fun

We didn’t want to turn this into a drudgery. All of the kids were allowed to speak their mind and give their opinion. We asked them to defend their positions and explain how it corresponds to Biblical principles. We highly encourage healthy and civil debate, if people differ, until a resolution can be found, again, based on God’s word.

It is our duty to not only fulfill our civic responsibility, but to pass the importance of that blessing down to our children. Through prayer, open discussion, careful research, and the study of God’s Word we’re looking to encourage our children both in their learning adventure and in becoming responsible members of the world in which they live. And, prayerfully, have a little fun along the way.

We’re curious… At what age did you begin to take an active role in civics?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter& Pinterest!