By Edward Murray
Happy New Year!
January 1st represents a day of goals and ‘bucket-list’ changes for people all over the country. Whether it be diet, exercise, smoking, or Tick-Tock (please put this on your list!), for a week or two, the topic of many conversations will be New Year’s Resolutions. It happens every year—for at least two weeks, gym-goers won’t find good access to an elliptical or stair-climber due to the sudden influx of newcomers. Yet, once the two-week mark hits, the facility returns to normal.
To put this another way, each year, resolutions fail because of nearsightedness. These so-called ‘goals’ are too fickle, short-term, and temporary. Moreover, as many have said before, the problem with resolutions is that they are singular resolutions instead of lifetime habits.
Instead, we make resolutions and household habits that aim for the long term. This year, let’s aim for 10,800 hours with our children.
Aim for 10,800 Hours
In his book Education: Does God Have an Opinion? A Biblical Apologetic for Christian Education & Homeschooling, Christian Educator and Apologist Israel Wayne (referencing Malcolm Gladwell) writes:
“In 2008, in his book Outliers, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell introduced a new concept to the American psyche. The ‘10,000-Hour-Rule” suggests that if you wish to truly excel in any field, you need to dedicate 10,000 hours of focused and targeted practice, study, and development. Successful musicians, athletes, artists, lawyers, actors, doctors, etc., have all given witness to investing this level of commitment into their craft.
According to the Center for Public Education, most states require between 175 and 180 days of school or between 900 and 1,000 hours of instructional time per year, depending on the grade level. Taking the lower number of 900 annual hours, this calculates to a total of 10,800 hours of seat instruction for students enrolled in a government school for grades 1-12. Can you see where I’m headed with this? The goal of every Christian parent is to seek to utilize those 10,800 hours for the glory of God.“1
Think about how little time we have with our children in our homes—considering that at best we may have 18 years, then take out all the time they’re asleep or out with friends (not to mention public school, there goes eight more hours a day during the school year), an eternal perspective will show that our precious moments are fleeting.
Plan for the Last Day
In our culture, most, if not all, energy is expended planning for the first day. Think of how much effort and money we spend on wedding days (i.e., the first day of the marriage). Consider how much preparation young couples endure for the birth of their first child. Or fill in the blank for countless other life events: the first day of school, the first day of college, the first day on the job, etc.
We are good at aiming for the short term but largely miss it culturally for long-term planning. Imagine if we reversed it. Imagine what this would look like if we flipped it. What if, instead of investing in the first day, couples spent all their efforts and resources planning for the last day of the marriage?
Thinking this way immediately brings to the forefront the need for daily habits rather than singular resolutions destined to fail in the first week or two.
Aiming for the Last Day is Nothing Less than Daily Discipleship
Begin this year thinking and praying about the last day your children will be in the home. Consider the words of the Psalmist:
“3Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. 4Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. 5Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3-5 ESV)
Instruments for war. That’s what the scriptures tell us our children are. But as anyone who has ever served in the military or seen the Lord of the Rings will know, no one innately has the ability to wield weapons for war. Efficient usage requires training, and arrows need sharpening.
Moreover, as Wayne and Gladwell remind us, at best, we have 10,800 hours to invest in these arrows. However, consider that if you have a 10-year-old at home like I do, then your time is already—at least cut in half. With this little time, nothing less than serious stewardship, daily habits, and intentional-planned investment will cultivate what is needed for the last day.
In other words, this year, plan for discipleship, not for resolutions. Even thinking of that last day may pull on your heartstrings. If it does, then use it! Marinate on and pray for that last day! And resolve to invest each hour of each day to the best of your ability by the power of God! And never forget that you are not alone!
Edward Murray currently serves as Manager of Special Projects and Policy Research for Classical Conversations and The Homeschool Freedom Action Center. He is a native of Augusta, GA, and an alumnus of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC, where he earned his M.Div. He lives in Newport News, VA, with his wife and three children.
- Wayne, Israel. Education: Does God Have an Opinion? A Biblical Apologetic for Christian Education & Homeschooling. (2017, Master Books), p. 19. ↩︎