“You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” ~Matthew 5:12-13
When our boys were babies we hung the letters “s-a-l-t” on Evan’s bedroom door (which eventually became Selah’s door) and “l-i-g-h-t” on Landon’s door as a visual reminder that it is just as valuable to raise salt and light as it to be salt and light. This helped me, in particular, view our children as my primary mission field. It certainly alleviated the discouragement I felt about not having more time, more money, and more energy to be salt and light elsewhere (like at our church or in our community).
Rachel Jankovic, in a recent post I wish I had been able to read five years ago when we were sorting through all of this, offers this perspective:
It is easy to become discouraged, thinking that the work you are doing does not matter much. If you were really doing something for Christ you would be out there, somewhere else, doing it. Even if you have a great perspective on your role in the kingdom, it is easy to lose sight of it in the mismatched socks, in the morning sickness, in the dirty dishes. It is easy to confuse intrigue with value, and begin viewing yourself as the least valuable part of the Church.
There are a number of ways in which mothers need to study their own roles, and begin to see them, not as boring and inconsequential, but as home, the headwaters of missions.
At the very heart of the gospel is sacrifice, and there is perhaps no occupation in the world so intrinsically sacrificial as motherhood. Motherhood is a wonderful opportunity to live the gospel. Jim Elliot famously said, “He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Motherhood provides you with an opportunity to lay down the things that you cannot keep on behalf of the people that you cannot lose. They are eternal souls, they are your children, they are your mission field.
With all that said, yesterday Evan started Kindergarten and Landon started 1st grade at a wonderful public elementary school by our house. As I snapped this photo I thought, “There they go…Salt & Light. Our mission field: mobilized.”
As a pastor’s family, people are often surprised that we don’t homeschool or send our kids to a private Christian school. When asked about it, I always give the same response: “First, Ryan and I loved our public school experiences. Second, it’s cheaper! Third, public schools need our Christian kids (and vice versa). I’m not sure it’s the best idea to keep all the Jesus-loving kids (or teachers, for that matter) out of the public schools. We want Landon, Evan, and Selah to have opportunities to reflect Jesus in places where his name is a curse word (or an afterthought at best), and right now that means attending public school…in Las Vegas. Fourth, did we mention this is the cheaper route?”
The reality is that God has simply not led our family–as he has led other families–into homeschooling or Christian school. This doesn’t mean sending our kids to public school is better of our family, it just means that it’s better for our family given our present circumstances…just like homeschooling is better for several of our close friends who do a phenomenal job educating their children and training them up to be salt and light in their given contexts. These families are incredible to me, honestly, and I have been both challenged and encouraged by their testimonies and their tenacity to develop a culture in their schooling that promotes learning in ways that glorify God. You should totally read their blogs, not mine.
No wait, don’t do that. (Really, though, leave me a comment if you want their links.)
Likewise, we also know people who’ve had many important reasons for sending their kids to Christian schools, and we respect them greatly for it; but, again, it just isn’t for us, especially with such a fantastic public elementary school a short walk from our house (we realize we are blessed to this end). Will this always be the case? I have no idea. We hold all of this loosely because we know that there might come a day when it becomes clear that we need to put one–or all–of our children in a different environment.
But for now–for this season–we will gratefully embrace the public school up the street and do our part advance the gospel into its classrooms…
…one salty, shiny Lunceford at a time.
Make it a great year, everyone!