"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence. But we rather have those because we have acted rightly.We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
Merely having a piano in a home and having a child bang on the instrument will not nurture a child into becoming a classical pianist. To become excellent in playing, the child must be instructed over a period of many years, hours must be given to practice and learning music. Playing and playing and playing again is the course of action that produces skill and excellence.
Proverbs tells us that "a skillful man will go before kings." Regarding character, wisdom and soul strength, a child must also be instructed, have many years to practice and apply the teaching before an excellent character and life skills are developed.
Contemporary Culture Mitigates Against Excellent Character
Because our culture is so given to crudity and a devaluation of human beings, with secular media determining the values of children, many adults and children reflect shallow character and lack of wisdom and discretion. Couple this with a lack of intentional training on the part of adults, with moral compromise at every turn, and many children are at a disadvantage in their lives because they have never developed a strong moral character, or seen a strong moral character in the life of the adults around them.
A child who is not trained and taught to exercise strength in righteousness, truth, work ethic, relationships and integrity, will often be at a disadvantage his whole life, because instead of his character serving him, his lack of training and ignorance will detract from his ability to live an excellent life.
I believe that many moms struggle with motherhood and the burden of raising children because they have never been stretched or trained in character and are morally weak, complaining and undisciplined. An undisciplined soul reacts to pressure with complaining, anger and frustration. Often, a lack of strong character and a developed work ethic is at the bottom of depression in young women. I know that I was never trained for such hard work, and so struggled to meet the ideals I held in my heart because I had never been trained to be strong in character--I was spoiled in many ways and so had to learn character along with my children--and it was more difficult as an adult who had become lazy and self-centered--and I didn't even know it! I had been quite indulged and was unaware of my own lack of character--I wanted to blame my struggles on everything else except myself!
We are living in a culture where compromise is an accepted norm in marriage, in movies and television, in work, manners, leadership, responsibility. Also, addictions and lack of discipline of every sort are the norm and acceptable, so that lack of character is not even affirmed or valued. Addiction to food, substances, social media, pornography, television, gaming, gambling, and every sort of pleasure that eats up the beauty and possibility of life is tolerated. In surveys, it is often found that believers are just as apt to divorce, become addicted to pornography, and to live an immoral lifestyle.
I find that so many parents are mostly anxious that their children cease to have "bad" behavior. They just want a formula for disciplining their children that will make them easier to deal with on a daily basis, so that they as parents can have an easier life. Yet, as I observe many families, children, and moms in all of our travels and teaching, I find that there are fewer and fewer children who have an internal sense of composure, self-control, wisdom, and manners, because they are not receiving this kind of instruction at home. Their moms, even the stay at home ones, are busy with their own agenda and pastimes.
Yet, if we are created in God's image, shouldn't we, as believers, be the most excellent in our behavior, character and influence? Doesn't scripture teach us to lay down our lives for the sake of others--in this case, our children? Doesn't anything worthy always require great sacrifice, vision and hard work?
The next few weeks, I will be addressing the importance of training in character qualities and how this training develops a foundation of strength for the life and soul of a child.
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I am excited about this series! It has been bubbling up as I have talked to many moms over the past weeks, been at our first conference, observed behavior of adults in several situations, and discussed many of these issues with my own children.
Character matters! Training excellent character into the very fiber of children takes intention, perseverance, commitment, wisdom--and honestly, it requires character from our own lives.
I hope/pray this series will be of great encouragement to you, as this character training gives children and adults discretion, confidence and integrity in living life for the glory of Christ.
I will be using The 24 Family Ways in this series, as it is what Clay and I wrote for our own children's training.