Germinating Life – A Lesson in Character-Building

A couple of months ago I was contacted by Jane H. Smith concerning a youth novel she has recently had published called The Living Tale Series: Henley and the Book of Heroes.  The purpose of the book is to teach children about growing their character – something which is a life-long learning process for all of us.  Jane is a home-schooling mom who lives on a ranch with her husband and three sons.  After Jane contacted me, I asked her to write a guest post for this site, and she graciously agreed.  You can read more about Jane’s book at her website:  www.TheLivingTale.com.  Here is her post:

It was a picture-perfect day.  My house was in order, literally – something that does not happen everyday while home educating three boys who are “all boy.”  Well, as I was saying, it was a picture-perfect day.  My house was in order, my eldest sons worked quietly on their computerized curriculum, and I taught my seven-year-old reading.  After three subjects and two hours, I checked on my sons.

“How goes it?” I asked my seventh grader.

“Super! I finished 4 things,” he smiled triumphantly.

“Great,” I said. Then I turned to my eighth grader. “How goes it?”

“Uh. Not good. I didn’t do a thing.”

As it turned out he had looked at aircraft pictures all morning, only clicking on his schoolwork when he heard me coming to check on them.

Technology. What a love/hate relationship I have with it while home schooling.  Even with parental controls and controlling time and access it can be the door to great success and inspiration or the door to great seduction and loss.  At least this was the way I used to view technology.  After spending time listening to God, I’ve learned it is not the technology that is the problem, but the way I was directing my children’s character.  Similar to a gun, it is not the gun that is dangerous, but the character of the one using it that determines its usefulness or harm.

So the issue at hand is what is the best way to hone my sons’ character.  My husband and I have used lists of character qualities, modeling good character, reading them classics with honorable characters, all of which have helped, but not cured the problem because the issue is not honing my sons’ character, but showing them how to receive an entirely new character – the Character of the King.

For our family coming from a Judeo-Christian foundation we learned, like many, to master a list of character qualities and do our best to do them. That was the sum of good character.  And yet, year after year we would see leader after leader falling from grace after displaying how lacking his or her character was.  This combined with our own failures as parents led us to real answers.

A list would not work, self will would not work, rewards and punishment would not work, even laws and community norms would not work.  So what did?  A relationship.  A relationship with a supernatural being has the power to change our hearts and therefore our character.  This is what my husband and I refer to as The Character of the King and it is an impartation of character.

One of the best ways to understand this is through gardening.  The seed one plants in a garden has the capacity to grow into the plant it is designed to be.  We all have seeds of greatness that are designed to grow us into the heroes of our generation.  Whatever that may be or wherever that may be.  The only problem is that these seeds can only germinate in the presence of the King – Jesus’ heart.  Only there can this seed grow into the person that is uniquely and wonderfully you.  His heart is the heart of God and the more we are in relationship with him, the more his character becomes ours.

Sadly, history is full of misrepresentations of his character as angry, hateful, and capricious.  But nothing could be farther from the Truth.  Our Father in Heaven is love, not that he is loving, but he is love.  And with the advent of his son Jesus taking all the curses of humanity onto himself, you could say God is in a good mood.  What better character than that to have growing the seedling of my sons’ hearts.

So now when we encounter the problem of my son making a poor choice with technology, my husband and I redirect his mind back to his new heart.  Through relationship with the Gardener he discovers the reasons behind his poor choices.  We remind him of his higher calling in life and the Love that is there to restore him.  And you know what?  He is now governing himself.  He still makes mistakes, but they are fewer and farther between.  And when he makes them, he is quick to own them and grow beyond them.

So the next day you are having a bad technology day, consider there is a way to grow your children’s character that is internal and eternally for their good.

FromThe Living Tale Series: Henley and the Book of Heroes:  “A hero needs a heart so he can do extraordinary things. Remember, Henley, every good story needs a hero…and a hero needs a heart.”  Learn more about it at: www.TheLivingTale.com

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