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.