A few years ago, in part as a result of President Clinton’s classic statement “it depends on what the meaning of “is” is”, the topic of character became widespread. Homeschoolers stressed character training in their homes and some public schools jumped on the bandwagon and talked about character development, implementing programs that would teach students principles for living. Many civic groups promoted the value of character training and even entire communities would name a character quality of the week to be studied, using curriculum designed just for the task.
But what about character training for moms, specifically homeschooling moms? My contention is that God, in His sovereignty and through His calling on our lives as homeschooling moms, has chosen the means of homeschooling itself to mold us into women of character. Our curriculum is the Word of God, as it applies to our daily lives. The Holy Spirit is our instructor, guiding us into truth and applying it to each of us individually. And training our children is the test ground, the place where we are most apt to demonstrate what we have learned in the process.
Today I am going to begin a series of blog entries that discuss the character qualities that the Lord teaches homeschooling moms through the day to day living we each experience. I want to begin by using the Proverbs 31 woman as our pattern and will also be including various other women from the Bible who have amazing insights for us as homeschooling moms. We should start by looking at exactly who wrote this passage of Scripture.
King Lemuel’s Mom, as I like to call her, wrote some instructions for life to her son which we find in Proverbs 31. Scholars and historians know next to nothing about King Lemuel. They know even less about his mother who penned this wonderful passage. (Many older scholars believe that Lemuel was actually King Solomon, an interesting thought to ponder since that would make the mother in question Bathsheba.)
To many people, Proverbs 31 is the key passage that depicts the ideal role model for today’s Christian woman and how many interpretations I have heard on this passage, especially for the homeschooling mother! For me, it is both inspirational and overwhelming. And it is well-worth reading, studying, and memorizing. It is, I believe, a passage that is meant to describe the various tasks in a woman’s life, not simultaneously in one season, but rather, in the various seasons of life. After all, even Wonder Woman couldn’t do everything listed in this passage all at once and still be a healthy, sane woman.
King Lemuel’s Mom recognized the valuable contributions a woman makes throughout her life and the various changes that each season brings, ultimately bringing honor to a husband who was older, experienced, and a leader in his community. She saw the opportunities for ministry and commerce that would come at various stages of life and told her son to look for a woman who was a hard worker and one who wouldn’t shun her duties in the early years of marriage or until she too, would become an older woman. This is what she hoped for in a daughter-in law and she made her desires known to her son, which is what any good mom would do! Lemuel’s Mom then goes on to list all the qualities that she believes are important in searching for a wife, giving us the familiar icon known as the “Proverb’s 31 Woman.”
In Proverbs 31:1, we read “The sayings of King Lemuel–an oracle his mother taught him.” An oracle is defined as wise, spiritual counsel, especially as it gives a warning for the future. The Word of God does not report this list in Proverbs 31 merely as an account of what one woman told her son. Instead, it recognizes that this was a godly woman, a woman who maintained wisdom and that her warnings about choosing a godly woman as a wife were to be followed. What a blessing for us to have King Lemuel’s mother both as an instructor to us and also as an example of what we are to teach our own sons, both by what we say, and by how we set an example! And this is the first great character quality we learn from King Lemuel’s Mom, that of wisdom, or the ability to look at all of life through God’s eyes, seeing the big picture and applying His word to every aspect of it.
The second character quality we learn from her can be found in verse 2 where she pleads “: “O my son, O son of my womb, O son of my vows” as she begins speaking to him. This verse makes me smile. How many times have we thought, or even said something like, “Do you know I carried you for 9 months, endured sleepness nights and heartburn, spent 32 hours laboring in excruciating pain and eventually you were born, all 11 pounds of you. Do you realize that is roughly the size of that watermelon we bought this afternoon? And this is the thanks I get?” I think this is what King Lemuel’s Mom is trying to convey to her son, that she labored over him during pregnancy and childbirth and now she is laboring over his choices as a young man; she is pleading with him to hear what she says because of her commitment to him, through both giving him life and raising him. She is demonstrating persuasiveness in its finest hour!
Persuasiveness, or the act of presenting vital, Biblical truth, even if it might be resisted, is one of the most essential tools in the homeschooling mom’s toolbox. It is tenacious, but does not nag. Like Winston Churchill, it never, never, never gives up, but it is sometimes weary. The persuasive homeschooling mom knows her own children well enough that she can anticipate the objections or arguments they may make and addresses them in her original presentation! Combined with wisdom, it is a powerful commodity.
Moms, we are called to be wise women, women with a message that is based on God’s unchanging Word. And we are called to be persuasive, as we lead our children to the same wisdom we have been given, remembering that both knowledge and goodness precede the right to admonish.
Tomorrow we will look at what this wise and virtuous woman saw were necessary warnings to give to her son and we will look at the character qualities she possessed in order to be able to discern and give these warnings!