Friday, March 29, 2019

developing character

I have a confession--I don't like to discipline my kids.

When I threaten a consequence ("If you keep that up, you're going to lose x"), I really hope they will stop whatever that is because I don't want to take "x" away from them.

I would much prefer to only have fun times with my kids. I love to see them smile...wouldn't you?
It would be wonderful if I never had to tell them no, never had to correct them, never had to hurt their feelings. I would love to make sure their lives are full of laughter and happiness, where nothing is ever hard for them and the world gives them everything they could ever want.

Here's the problem, though: I want my kids to grow up to be good people. I want them to develop a strong work ethic, good character, empathy, generosity, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (you caught me--I didn't come up with that list on my own...).

As Helen Keller said, "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."

If I want my kids to develop those traits I mentioned, they have to be tested. They have to be put into situations where the easy thing to do isn't necessarily the right thing. They have to be made uncomfortable and frustrated and angry and sad, because those are the things that will build them up to be the people I hope they will become.

So as much as I don't want to, I have to correct my kids. It doesn't make them happy and they don't really understand it all the time. Sometimes, they get mad at me. They think I'm punishing them because I get some sort of crazy pleasure out of it, like it's some sort of game and I just like having power over them...

...sound familiar?

How many times are we like that? Our Father wants what's best for us. He wants to give us blessings beyond our wildest imagination, to see us happy...just to see us smile.

But He knows who He wants us to become. He knows that to develop our character we will have to face things that hurt. He doesn't watch us suffer and hurt because He gets some sort of pleasure from it. He wants to see us happy, but more importantly than that, He wants to see us become like Christ. He wants us to become true reflections of Him...

people who truly live out the directive found in Matthew 7:12

"This is what our Scriptures come to teach:
in everything, in every circumstance,
do to others as you would have them do to you."

and in Romans 12:9

"Love others well, and don't hide behind a mask;
love authentically.
Despise evil; pursue what is good
as if your life depends on it."

and in Ephesians 5:1-2

   "So imitate God. Follow Him like adored children,
 and live in love as the Anointed One loved you—
so much that He gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God."

and Ephesians 4:1b

"Live a life that is worthy of the calling
He has graciously extended to you."

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