Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, (Colossians 3:23)
Here’s a nice story I thought I’d share.
Once upon a time, a traveler was passing through a town. Tired and thirsty, he thought stopped to rest by the fountain. He was enjoying the last drops of a drink of cool water, when he caught sight of three stone masons across the way, hard at work.
Curious, he approached the first stone mason and inquired, “What are you doing?” The stone mason glanced up, wearily wiped the sweat from his brow, and grumbled, “I am cutting this stone.”
The traveler turned to the second stone mason and asked the same question, “What are you doing?” Less despondent, the second stone mason heaved a sigh, nodded toward a nearby construction site, and replied, “I’m building a parapet.”
But when the traveler approached the third stone mason, he received a very different answer. “What are you doing?”
The worker paused, raised his eyes to the traveler and, with a radiant face, declared, “I am building a beautiful cathedral that will glorify God for centuries to come.”
All three men were working on the same long-term project, but had radically different perspectives.
The first was looking only at the task immediately before him. The second had a larger focus, but also was looking at just one small piece of the picture.
The third man, however, had the big picture steadfastly set before his mind and heart: he was building a cathedral. Whatever task was laid before him, it was part of that bigger goal—a cathedral that would stand for centuries.
I like to review that story when I think of homeschooling; but it’s really a terrific reminder when the grind of every day parenting to-dos finds you drained. Most likely, when you started your family, you had a vision of the big picture. Your focus was on your child’s heart and mind. You wanted your child to grow and flourish according to his personality and talents. You didn’t want her to be stuck in a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all world. You agreed with what Charlotte Mason (a British educator at the turn of the twentieth century) held as foundational: “The child is a person,” and the reason we educate is to develop that person.
But when you’ve been working on a long-term project for a while, it’s easy to get tunnel vision—to begin to focus on just the task in front of you, or even shift your gaze to a larger project, but forget the big picture.
In the high school years, tunnel vision can look like this:
Just finish this Algebra book.
Just score high on the SAT.
Just get into college.
Just get a good job.
Those aren’t bad goals, but they’re not the whole picture.
Keep your perspective. Don’t get lost in the tall weeds; and don’t let those details give you tunnel vision.
Lift your eyes. Keep your focus on the big picture.
“The function of education is not to give technical skill but to develop a person; the more of a person, the better the work of whatever kind,” says Ms. Mason. You are developing a person, and a person is much more than a score, much more than an institution, much more than a title.
A person is an eternal soul, with so much potential to glorify God for years to come.
Keep that focus set before your heart and you’ll do just fine.”
Lisa LaFortune (Families! Change the World)