Way # 21 We do what we know if right, regardless what others do or say.
character quality: Integrity
Verse: Memory Verse:
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,Nor stand in the path of sinners,Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord,And in His law he meditates day and night.
Sometimes it is a bit humbling or perhaps testing to have older kids. The ways they tease or roll their eyes at ways that you always said this or ways you trained them can subtly feel a little personal. Yet, as I look at all of my sweet ones, I know that they are so very grateful for having been given foundations of ways to think, to live to develop their own sense of integrity—and here is an important one—to give them a sense of their own potential influence, self-government and virtue in a very dark world. They have to own the messages of your hearts in their own hearts. And so it happens by love, spending time to listen to them and winning the right to speak to them because you have been cultivating relationship with them. Godly influence is not won by force or authoritarianism. That sort of influence is usually lost. But it is won the way Christ did it in the lives of his disciples—by giving his life to them.
I remember recently we had a time that was like so many other times with my adult kids in the last few years…..
With warm mugs of coffee in hand, ease of mood and cheer of heart, the kids were sitting around repeating all of the mantras they heard over and over again throughout their lives.
"Mama, the funny thing is, I hear your voice every day of my life, everywhere I go. And the funny thing is, it keeps directing me to make good decisions."
Sometimes we don't think our children are listening to our repeated in instruction. Yet, I believe that "Train up a child in the way he should go," is a part of shaping brain pathways of truth and morality in the minds and even the souls of our children as they shape their values.
One of the mantras they heard over and over again was, "Wrong is always wrong even if everyone is doing it. Right is always right even if no one is doing it."
Each of my children, as they have gone into very compromising places of thought and behavior, (Hollywood, New York City, Boston, Oxford, Cambridge), have said that developing this wisdom as a part of making decisions has helped them not to compromise. Understanding that the world is a place of compromise, and that we were called to be holy, set apart--light in the darkness, salt in a tasteless world, prepared my children to go into very challenging arenas, armed with an understanding of what the battle would become, and how they would be tested.
In a world of relative value and constant compromise, ("Oh, everyone I know who is a Christian watches this kind of show." Or "Everyone else I know says it is ok." And then follows, "I am a liberated Christian. I can do this in the name of religious freedom."), we must give our children a sense of absolutes in the areas that are important to God. If we listen to the voices in the world, on blogs, on facebook, even in Christian culture, we must understand that such voices create compromise.
The Ten Commandments are a great place to start--no adultery, no idols, setting themselves apart to remember their God, and to honor Him, as well as honoring their sweet mama, (Me) and their great Daddy, Clay. And such voices create compromise--
Our family considers ourselves also to have great freedom, yet we also have strong standards of holiness and morality because we have focussed on seeking to please the heart of God. The only way you can create freedom to live righteously and give wisdom in knowing how to behave in life is to teach about Jesus and His instruction every day. Only when we have pondered His words, can we understand His heart towards life.
Psalm 1 is a passage I used over and over again to train my children to walk not in the counsel of their friends or the world, but to delight in the heart and rightness of God's words in order to have a sensitive conscience to what He wanted them to do. We acted out and memorized through verse 4 and it became a picture of what a righteous person looked like in a culture that was cynical, criticizing, compromising---the blessed man walks in the counsel of the Lord.
My children had to say "no" to certain age-inappropriate movies when we were not around. They had to learn to be the ones who would not participate in certain activities of other groups. They learned, by practicing, not to engage in immoral images on the computer, (this usually will eventually accost all children--but they need to learn to say no! And they need to know they can trust you to tell you what they have seen to ask for your help.)
We talked about media, peer pressure, foolishness and read proverbs together many times to find wise ways of living.
Learning to be righteous is a heart issue, not a rules memorized issue. If it feels wrong to their heart that has been shaped on righteousness, then it is probably wrong. But you need to talk to your children as they grow, about choices, trusting you, listening to God, living above reproach in a culture that is evil.
We cannot force righteousness on our children by legalism and harshness. This only makes them want to hide from us. But instead, we nurture and cultivate a love for goodness by cultivating it in our home each day.
In all of our ideals, righteousness is progressive. In other words, we make mistakes, we fail, sometimes we do foolish things because they are so accepted in culture. Sometimes, wickedness jumps after us like Potifer's wife chasing Joseph. And our children learned the concept of fleeing--just drop what will burn you and flee--run immediately away from the temptation.
Yet, Proverbs reminds us, "The path of the righteous is like the dawn which shines brighter until the full day."
We train our children in our home, we help them and love them even if they fall, we pick them up, we protect them, we walk with them on the paths of righteousness, and they grow stronger day by day, year by year, and learn for themselves to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, who leads them in righteousness.
Maturity if a muscle built strong by much exercise.
How have you taught your children the concept of being holy--set aside for God's purposes and glory?