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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I'd like to welcome any visitors who are reading my blog for the first time, or who visited from Encouragement for Today devotions. My devotion today was titled, "Raising Children with Moral Courage." You can read it by clicking here.

This hasn't been an easy part of parenting for me. You see, I tend towards being an over-protective and worried mom. My instinct is to pull my children in closer at the first scent of danger. And believe me when I say that raising three boys close in age involved lots of danger.

All three have the spirits of warriors and adventurers. There was no puddle deep enough or fence high enough that one of my three wouldn't try to battle their way through, over, under and beyond. Every stick became a sword, and towel a cape. Quite unlike their mama, who prefers a cozy couch and book to the wild life.

Back when they were small, I had to make a choice. Honestly, my husband sort of prodded me to do it. He recognized their amazing spirit, because he's got it too. So instead of trying to make them more like me (which would have been futile and sad) I realized I had help them become who God had already designed them to be. Which was bold boys who would become bold men.

I had to (and still do) choose to allow them to do things that seemed scary. But I didn't always do it right. One of my biggest regrets was when my oldest son wanted to take a mission trip. In junior high he spent a weekend at an orphanage in Mexico. He loved it and wanted to plan for a longer, more involved, trip to Honduras the following year.

Everything in me cringed in fear. And I let him know it. I listed every reason why it would be dangerous for him to go that far. He was too young, it was too expensive, and so on. Sadly, my son dropped the issue and never brought it up again.

The hard part about this task of raising brave children is there are real dangers in our world. Every day, a parent has to balance wisdom and risk. However, to be brave, there has to be a risk. If there is no challenge, it's not bravery.

The kingdom of God is advanced by men and women with moral courage. And faith is only strengthened by stepping out (often in fear) and discovering for yourself that God is faithful. But it must start at an early age. So what can parents do? Here are a few things to consider.

1) Address your own fear level. Is there any chance you might be over-protective and hinder your child from stepping out in faith?
2) Read about biblical virtues of faithful men and women. You'll find that many of the heroes of our faith did very brave and dangerous acts for God.
3) Teach your children the difference between being assertive and being aggressive. Christians should be assertive for the right reasons.
4) Let your children know you will support them for doing the right thing. We always told our children to stick up for the weak, and we would stand beside them to face the consequences.
5) Allow your child to do something for God you consider risky. Not unsafe or foolish. But risky.
6) Do something risky for God yourself, and allow your child to watch or participate.

Here are some quotes that inspire me:

1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.” (NLT)

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts. Aristotle

The world needs more brave women and men. We need more people who feel moral outrage over injustice, poverty, inequality, cruelty, hatred, bullying, lying, and all kinds of sinful behavior. And will be brave enough to do something about it. We can do something about it now with our children.

That's my prayer for my children and yours.

In His Love,
Glynnis

13 comments:

Steph said...

I love that you wrote assertive vs. aggressive sentence. I have one child that is very people pleasing and another that is assertive. I worry about them both for the exact opposite reasons.

I appreciate your tender and honest writing style - thanks for helping refocus this Momma!

Janet said...

Thank you for your insight into helping raise our children to fight for what is right. Having a 12-year old daughter with Down Syndrome, we already see her younger sister (age 8) standing up for her when people make unpleasing comments about her sister. We are hoping that because our kids have seen us "fight" for our daughter's rights, that they, too, will not be afraid to stand up for what is right. Your advice here will help us to lead them on that path. Thanks so much!!

Simple stories girl said...

Thank you Glynnis for such a transparent, encouraging post with truth from God's word.
Love in Christ,
Bettina

Tammy Nischan said...

Glynnis,

I really needed this devo today. Olivia (11) has been asked to play on the high school JV basketball team and while I am excited for her to have this opportunity, I find myself fearful of the influences she may be around.

I want to instill in her moral courage as she walks this road. I want to be there for her to encourage her and give her guidance, but I also want to watch her develop into her "own" Christian faith without fear. Such a tough balance.

Thank you for speaking to my mommy heart today!

I love you!

Tammy

EncourageMentor said...

Thank you for this post Glynnis! I think we all(adults and children alike) need to assess where we are as it relates to this topic. TIf I might add to your excellent quotes--two that stir me are:"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." --Eleanor Rooselvelt
and "Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." Dorothy Thompson. Thank you again!

Betsy said...

Great devotional! I have 2 sons now in their 20's. I understand your fear.

I also wanted to urge you to check out twin brothers that are making a difference by their own actions. Their names are Alex & Brett Harris. They are affecting change through their work and their website therebelution.com. Here is an exert from their page:

The official definition of the 'rebelution' is "a teenage rebellion against low expectations." When you look around today, our culture does not expect much of us young people. We are not only expected to do very little that is wise or good, but we're expected to do the opposite. Our media-saturated youth culture is constantly reinforcing lower and lower standards and expectations.

And it's exciting, because the Rebelution has become a type of counter-cultural youth movement among young people from around the world, who are not only rejecting the lies of popular youth culture, but they're returning to biblical and historical levels of character and competence.

In 1 Timothy 4:12, the Apostle Paul tells Timothy, "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." In other words, as young people we are called to be exemplary in all areas of life. Our generation is falling incredibly short of that calling. Instead of serving as the launching pad of life, the teen years are seen as a vacation from responsibility. We call it the "myth of adolescence." And the Rebelution is all about busting that myth.

Please look at their work! It is exciting to see what they are doing
to work for God. Betsy :)

Amber Ford said...

Wow! I especially liked the suggestion to encourage your children to stand up for the weak and stand beside them as they suffer the consequences. That is a great way to teach children to stand up for moral justice. I often struggle with allowing my kids to take risks, partly because I want to protect them and partly because I want to protect me: what would others say if my child makes a mistake or fails? Great and timely encouragement Glynnis. The last thing I want to do in these last days is hinder my children from standing up for God no matter what consequences that may bring.

Proverbs 27:19 said...

We have a 4-years-old boy and many times I find myself demanding that he sit still before he hurts himself.

My husband has to remind me that he wasn't designed to sit still and to let him be a boy.

smooches,
Larie

Eagles Wings said...

I love it!!! I'm printing 3 copies off and giving it to three preschool moms at my sons school...
Thanks for such an awesome article...

Sandi said...

Thanks for the great encouragement today and for challenging us to look at areas where we could dig into our discomfort. I've read some books to my kids (9,7,5) from Youth With A Mission Publishing(ywam). They are called Heroes of the Faith. They are written for a listener or reader around the 5th grade level but I've really enjoyed them also. My kids liked them too. I'd love to own the entire series. A couple we've read are Gladys Aylward and George Müllers. Both were used incredibly by God in ways that had affects for generations. I would love to leave that kind of heritage. I will also check out the website of those young teenage men that Betsy encouraged us to read.
Have a great rest of the week!
Sandi

Sandi said...

The books I was referring to are actually called, CHRISTIAN HEROES: THEN & NOW. Opps, sorry
Sandi

Anne said...

Wow - what a great ministry in the hour of struggle! God has been gently tugging at my heart about this very issue regarding my own 3 children, but especially my 2 young boys (7 and 8). It is time for us to move from the "talking" stage into the "doing" stage following Jesus' example of caring for others. I fear most of all raising my children to be self serving adults without compassion for others. Any of you seasoned moms have suggestions on how to get started?

Lynn Cowell said...

Glynnis,
My 7th grader is experiencing a lot of "rejection" right now for going against the grain at school. I am so proud of her and yet ache for her at the same time. I know the blessings that come from following hard after Him early. I also know first hand that it is very hard. Thanks for the reminder to be their encouragement!
Lynn