Barney Fife Syndrome

Perhaps no one better epitomizes crippling insecurities than Barny Fife from the Andy Griffith show. Barney was forever swaggering and trying to be a big shot in the tiny fictional town of Mayberry, NC. One running gag on the show was Barney routinely writing up local citizens for some trivial offense. Barney would quote the exact penal code that had been violated and begin writing lengthy citations. The “crime” invariably involved jaywalking or parking in a no-parking zone. Barney seemed to live in his own world- completely unaware that Mayberry was virtually crime free.

In one of my favorite scenes after locking up someone in the two-cell Mayberry jail, complete with hand crocheted doilies on the rocking chairs in each cell, Barney lectures the “criminals” while swaggering back and forth with both thumbs tucked in his gun belt, “Here at ‘the Rock,’ we have two basic rules. Memorize them so you can say them in your sleep. Rule One: Obey all rules! Second, do not write on the walls…as it takes a lot of work…to erase writing…off of walls.”

Wikipedia makes this observation about Barney Fife: “Sometimes considered a blowhard with delusions of grandeur, Barney fancies himself an expert on firearms, women, singing and just about any other topic of conversation brought up while he is around. Conversely, Andy knows that Barney’s false bravado is a smokescreen for his insecurities, and low self-confidence.”

Sometimes we all have Barney Fife syndrome. Whenever we start something new it’s only natural to feel a bit insecure and to struggle with lack of confidence. Homeschooling is no different. If you’re beginning homeschooling for the first time this year, I’d be worried about you if you weren’t a little frightened and insecure. It’s a big responsibility and most of us are all too aware of our lack of “qualifications” for the task.

But here’s the funny thing that we must never forget. Taking responsibility for our children’s education is an idea that would simply never occur to most people. It makes no economic sense and some would say- even less educational sense. Yet each of us has felt the call. And it is indeed a call. It’s a divine invitation to go on a remarkable faith-journey as a family. And though we may feel ill prepared for the task, God isn’t. He knows us, and He knows each of our children. And if He has placed this desire in our hearts He is more than capable of helping us fulfill it.

If we don’t understand this important truth, we may end up like Barney Fife- forever trying to compensate for our insecurities by one mechanism or another. We need to face this truth squarely. I can’t. He can. In my best strength- there is absolutely NO WAY I’m up to the task of taking responsibility for my children’s education. But I have a “silent partner” in this new educational venture who is MORE than able!

He is the Rabbi- the Teacher. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the beginning- and the end. There is nothing that we’ll be teaching that He didn’t create or orchestrate. He created the stars in astronomy. He created the continents in geography. He created the people who made history. He conceived of each species in botany and every bodily bone and organ in physiology. He created the vibrations that make music and He envisioned the colors that give birth to art. From the great composers to the great scientists, from the great political leaders to the great artists- he knew each of them intimately even before they were formed in their mother’s womb.

Barney Fife was forever flustered because he felt like he was in over his head in nearly every situation he faced. We don’t have to feel that way.

Talk with your children today about the secret ally we have in our homeschool. God is just as able to help each of our children as he is able to help each of us.

In 2 Cor. 3:4-5 Paul says, “Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.”

Did you hear that? Your confidence, AND your competence to homeschool comes from God. He never fails. He never stumbles. He never sleeps nor slumbers. He is completely trustworthy. Call on Him.

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Sheri said,

    God’s been getting a lot more of my phone calls lately than He used to get. Thank goodness He’s always home.

  2. 2

    Debbie said,

    We love Barney here! Thanks for the post…I needed to be reminded that my competence comes from Him.


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