Monday, March 31, 2008

Building Godly Character Part 1- The foundation

Disclaimer: Several families have come to us over the past few months asking about this topic. Although we do not claim to have the corner of the market on how to build godly character we can relate to these younger parents. About 11 years ago we began the same adventure and at that time did the same thing these younger parents are doing- we sought out families that seemed to be functioning in the way we desired for ours to function and picked their brains!!! What I am including in this series is based on the information we received from them. May God use it to help you to lead little hearts home. : )

Building Godly Character Part 1- The foundation

At the beginning of the school year my sister asked me:
“What are you wanting to focus on this year?”
“Character” I responded.
She laughed, “That's what you say every year.”
Hmmm... I guess I do.

Building character in our children, and in ourselves, seems to be a never ending process. We grow and see improvements, but we can always grow more.

Through the years it feels that God has grown me along with my children- in ways I would not have grown if I had not been training them.

From the youngest ages we begin to train our little ones at home by teaching them self denial. Sometimes, even when we could say yes to a desire, we might say no in order to observe and train their spirit. Are they submissive? If not, great- we're at home so we can work through that in private.

We begin by training them not to touch something we place in front of them, to come when called, to accept our “no” without crying and so on. It seems small, but training in self control is the foundation of godly character. It's the “where” we plan to plant the seed. The plot of land if you will.

Training in self control is different than discipline. Discipline, while necessary, is reactionary. Training is proactive and it is a continual process.

If we allow our toddler to throw food from their tray day after day we have trained them to throw food from their tray. That may not be what we want them to do, but it is what we have trained them to do. If we move something out of their reach rather than training them not to touch what is in front of them they are not growing in self control.

Our children are always being trained whether we are meaning to train them or not.

Mike Pearl uses the example of a child in a car seat in his “Child Training” videos. A mother came to him saying that her child would not sit in a carseat. He asked her what she was doing to train him. She responded that he would scream and cry and she might discipline him. Ok, he responded, what would you do next? Well, I might discipline him again. Ok, then what? She might repeat the process. Then what? She would allow him to get out of the carseat and ride next to her. Mike Pearl jokingly said, Well, I don't know why you are coming to me- you've trained him well. She had trained him that to get his way he needed only to persistently scream and cry.

Her “discipline” was really only strengthening his resolve. He knew if he could hold up to the few spanks and keep up his fussing she'd back down. Really both the mother and son were very well trained.

Everyday our goal is to make disobedience harder than obedience. Everyday our goal is to train up our children in the way they should go, not spank up our children in the way they shouldn't.

If you haven't heard the Pearls speak, I would encourage you to. Their ministry has been a great blessing to us.


  1. Fun to read your blog, Rebecca! But, IMHO, what this blog really needs? Boys. Yep. So? What do you think? Can you add one in a couple of weeks or so?

  2. Hi Kendra! Wouldn't that be so fun? I keep meeting people who tell me, "My mom had 7 (or more) girls... she never had a boy- or the boy was the last one." Being 8+ months pregnant, with 4 girls in toe, must just beg for that type of info. I guess. ; )

  3. "Everyday our goal is to make disobedience harder than obedience. Everyday our goal is to train up our children in the way they should go, not spank up our children in the way they shouldn't."

    Good point!

    Mary Beth

  4. Rebecca,
    I love this post. I have read it twice. I have a 16 month old and a 2 1/2 year old with one on the way. When you talk of training vs. disciple, my husband and I are in total agreement, but the HOW sometimes confuses me. We cannot train our little one to not yell when she doesn't want to eat her food unless we take her out of her seat and spank. She responds well to it, but I just want to know what you do proactively to train your kids in certain areas. A 16 month old understands consequences, but I would love to know what you do in the area of training a little one. Thanks!

  5. Rebecca,
    I just have a quick question about training vs. discipline. My husband are in full agreement about the need for proactive training, but I would like to know how you begin that with a very little one without the use of some discipline. For example, our sixteen month old loves to push her food out of the way when she doesn't like it. We remove her from the seat, spank her, calmly tell her she has disobeyed and that we must gratefully eat the food in front of her. She gets it. But I am wondering if there is a different strategy that you use to be proactive, without discipline. The results with our 2 year old are great, but I want to seek your wisdom on the matter. Oh and that book by John Abbott is amazing. Thank you for recommending it:)

  6. Hi Perkfamily!

    Shoot me an e-mail at: