This is the first year that my oldest son will be attending a public school. My husband and I educated him at home for preschool and the first two years of elementary school. I had relatives and friends who questioned the merit of our decision to home school. Because I took my job as a gatekeeper seriously, I didn’t let people’s opinions deter me from doing what I knew we were called to do. Now that he will be attending a public school, I still am not allowing people’s contrary opinions to deter me from putting my son where I know God would have him to be.
To be an effective gatekeeper, you must know how to keep the good in and the bad out.
Know the expectations—The Word of God tells us how to live. Therefore, set family goals based on the commands of scripture for husbands, wives, and children. Not only have individual goals, but create ones for the family to meet together. For example, to fulfill take care of the poor, twice a month the family could prepare and deliver a meal to a family in need (Psalms 82:3-4, Proverbs 31:9).
Pray and fast—You need spiritual insight to direct you through what you see and don’t see. There is always a war going on in the spiritual realm that we cannot see, but God sees and directs our steps (2 Kings 6:15-17; Ephesians 6:12 and Proverbs 16:9). There are also things that God will reveal to us in the natural through prayer and fasting. And then there are those issues we observe with our own eyes. Whatever is revealed or not revealed, we still need God to direct us so we guard the gate appropriately to defeat the enemy and protect our family.
Filter entertainment—What the world rates as acceptable family entertainment many times goes against goals a Christian family may have. For instance, my children can’t watch The Flintstones or Popeye because of the sexist (both) and objectifying (Popeye) behavior in them. Sponge Bob is off limits because it’s crude. And media with gratuitous sex, violence and bad language are off limits, not just for the children, but also for me and my husband. We had to avoid two constant household favorites—The Sopranos and Sex in the City—before their series ended. I still have to make sure not to linger too long at the video section at the library so I’m not tempted to rent what I missed (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Assess family and friends—There is a saying, “Everyone who’s blood is not relative.” As a gatekeeper, you need to know which relatives are relative to your spiritual growth and which are not. Based upon your family’s goals, you know what the limits are of interaction with certain family members. Maybe the family members that like to get drunk and talk trash start cutting loose at the end of the family gathering. Make sure you come early and leave around “pumpkin time.” As for friends, the ones challenging you to do opposite of what you know to be right should be eliminated or kept at a distance. To help your children in this area, make sure you interact with families who have similar goals for their children and expose them to activities with goals that meet, or at least don’t contradict, your family’s goals.
Choose solid spiritual connections—Attend a Bible-believing church and hook up with Christian groups that have similar interests (like a book club, sports league or quilting bee). These are great ways to stay encouraged and focused on your goals.
When you have a plan, you can fulfill the job of gatekeeper and lead your family to the best God has for them.
Copyright 2009 by Rhonda J. Smith