Above academic pursuits is the process of building character. If all my sons get out of our education process is head knowledge I will consider what I've done a failure. The information itself is a waste without a relationship with Christ. The ability to respect authority, maintain healthy relationships, accept responsibility and have a strong work ethic will give them the groundwork to be a productive member of society. Through the process they will learn to listen for God's calling in their lives as to higher education, vocation, where to live, how to serve, if to marry and to whom and if to have children. God's success is what's important not America's definition.
M is entering a time at 21 months where our parenting must be united, consistent and effective with love. Parenting is not for the lazy or for those with out the conviction to make hard choices for the better long term development of their children. We must start the foundational principals of our parenting approach with one question. What does God expect from me? He expects immediate obedience and with a good attitude. (See Jonah's story of running from God's command to go to Nineveh in disobedient defience to understand God's stance and reaction.) How are we going to prepare our children to meet the expectations God has for them? We've had some humbling experiences approaching toddler hood which have required communication between us two, prayer, God's word and advice from Godly parents who are ahead of us on this road.
A friend recently shared an acronym - those always help cement broad ideas in my head for
Principles of Character Mark 12:30-31
1. Respect authority
Colossians 1:16-17, Colossians 3:18-22, Romans 3:1-7, Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 2:13-18
Through out their lives they will always have someone in authority over them. First of all and always God, us as his parents and our government's legal system such as police and judges. As a child those authorities include extended adult relatives, Sunday school teacher, other caregivers. As an adult, college professors, a boss, a board they report to or customers to answer to and a spouse to consider. Men especially have such power within their control. The ability to make sound decisions, with self control and a level caring heart, as to what's best; not easiest, not just fun, not just for them; is crucial. We were created for God, God was not created for us. My husband is an amazing example of doing good that silences others. He has an amazing work ethic and a loyally servant heart.
2. Esteem others
Galatians 5:13-15, Colossians 3:12-15, Romans 12:10, 14-18, Romans 13:8-10, Hebrews 3:13, 1 Peter 1, 22-23
Through out their entire lives they will have relationships. Friends can be a source of great encouragement, refuge, support and love. Making the choice to be this kind of friend will attract this type of friend. Looking for friends who chose compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience will save them from so much pain, heart ache, and being influenced towards unGodly choices. Surrounding themselves with positive encouraging people is absolutely priceless because relationships can also be a source of comparison, competition and gossip that can destroy. Only God can fill all your needs and validate you. When we chose to put vain conceit and pride aside and honor others first, we are unselfishly loving them for what's best for them, not for ourselves and what we can get from them. Interesting that while the first ten commandments are about our relationship with God, the last five our commandments regarding our relationships with others. Loving- God's definition of patient, kind, protects, trusts, hopes and persevering in it's faithfulness towards those we love. It's not rude, envious, self seeking, not proud, doesn't keep record of wrongs and not easily angered.
3. Accept Responsibility
The Fall: Genesis 3, 2 Chronicles 12:5-7 Rehoboam verses Acts 5 Ananias , confession of sin 1 John 1:8-10
From the first sin humankind has been doing everything we can to escape personal responsibility for our wrong choices. First Adam and Eve hid from God when they knew what they had done was wrong. Then, the finger pointing started with Adam blaming Eve and Eve blaming the serpent. One of the foundations of a relationship with Christ is confession of sin to God. It's not for God, it's for our sakes. He doesn't forgive what we don't admit. We refuse to do so by either rationalizing, justifying or trying to unsurp God's authority and become our own mini God with a different set of standards rewriting the definition of sin so we can quiet our own inner conscience. We also try setting a different standard then our separation from God begins. The harder our heart becomes with pride and denial the further that gap widens. God does not move. He is loyal, steadfast and never changing ready to forgive and love. It is us that shies away from Him with shame, rebellion and defiance. In Rehoboam's case once they humbled themselves, God showed His mercy but when Ananias and Sapphira lied about their deceit and refused to come clean they perished. His word tells us if we confess He will forgive. There is nothing new under the sun and we can't shock or scare God away with how sinful we've been. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. There are no scales, no little white lies or shading of our acts to shrug off- it's all sin to God.
Our culture especially seeks for the easy way out, to avoid pain, growth, problems or waiting. The escape and coping mechanisms are as vast as the types of personalities, struggles and pain we all bear. From alcohol,drugs, smoking, to every day habits taken to extreme like eating,shopping, education, gossip, criticism, judgement We hide our pain in otherwise daily routine escapes in any and all effort to not talk through, pray about and make concerted efforts to deal with and change that which becomes destructive in our lives. We spend so much time going over, under or around the core issues partly because we fear we can't handle the strength of our own hurt. We are scared to be overwhelmed by the sheer impact. We vastly underestimate the protection, comfort and healing presence of our Lord. Hurting people hurt people and the cycle continues until someone deals with what is broken inside themselves.
4. Diligence in all things
Ezra rebuilding the temple in Ezra 5 & 6, Proverbs 10:4, 12:24, 13:4, 21:5, Colossians 3:17 & 23, Hebrews 6:10-11, 1 Timothy 4: 15-16
God oversees all of our earthly work. Work was part of God's master design for this world long before the curse of it being hard. Work is good for serving others and building character. It's not just an ends to a means of a paycheck or self worth or accomplishment in itself. We can also know that once God lays on our heart a task, nothing- not confusion, delay or frustration- can block His plans. Commentary from Ezra, " It's not always easy to speak up for our faith in an unbelieving world, but we must. The way to deal with pressure and intimidation is to recognize that we are workers for God. Our allegiance is to Him first, people second. When we contemplate the reactions and criticisms of hostile people, we can become paralyzed with fear. If we try to offend no one or please everyone, we won't be effective." I'm so glad Colossians 3:17 was part of this support because that's the one I always think of when work is concerned. I'm an efficiency girl, I like to get it done right and quickly and move on. But there are times my desire to move forward outweighs the thoroughness a project deserves. My husband is a thorough person. I learn often from him the rewards of paying attention to details and being patient. Through faith and perseverance completely finishing and reviewing a task before moving on is a great reward. This scripture is also imperative in our approach of honesty, not cutting corners, cheating and being lazy. Our service is always under God's loving watchful eye. Regardless of the ethics of the person, company or organization we might be working for we are called to do it with all of our heart.
"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." 1 Peter 1:24