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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Character

I was impacted by a lot of forces growing up. There were teachers, Sunday School teachers, youth workers, coaches, neighbors, extended family, sisters and, of course, parents. One of the consistent messages I got from those people was that character matters. It was hammered home that my word should be true and that the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do to you) was still the best practice for life. The most important factor in my catching this concept was not just that people told me it was important. It sank in to my hard teenage head because the people who talked it lived it out.

Maybe that's why this message doesn't travel very far with many people today. We've got too many people saying one thing while actively living another. All around we watch as double standards are acted out on a daily basis. It starts with our government and permeates everything around us--our entertainment, our athletics, our educators and our relationships.

If you are as frustrated as I am with trying to raise kids in this kind of culture, you've probably been scratching your head in a search for the best way to make a change. How do you teach your kids to stand in the face of all the--dare I say it--hypocrisy that threatens to drown us all?

My answer? One heart at a time, starting with mine. Just like with the people who mentored and taught me, I cannot ask my kids to do something I'm not willing to do. My four children will never learn these truths if I don't live it out for them. I must be the one who is willing to speak truth, live with commitment and practice a Godly standard. This isn't magic, people. It's common sense. Unfortunately, such common sense is a rare commodity today. So here are the things I want my kids to know:

* Lying is wrong. Truth may be uncomfortable, but it's always right and never out of style.
*Commitment is good. Rather than preventing our freedom, it enhances it.
*Promises are meant to be kept. Once you make a vow, you better do your part to keep it.
*Hard work is awesome. If you want something, go out and earn it. Hand-outs suck away your will to do anything.
*Saving is good. Just because you have a dollar doesn't mean you have to spend it. In fact, if we would all learn the 10/20/70 principle, our economy would thrive. (The first 10% goes to God. The next 20% is to be saved. We learn to live off the 70%)
*Friendships are to be treasured...not used for some other purpose. True friends stick with others in the hardest of times.
*Family is forever. I don't like everything my family does. Guess what? They don't like everything I do. But we're still family.
*God is the most important thing. The world may tell you differently (they will 100 times a day) but God's plan for your life is the only one that matters. You and I live for an "audience of One."

I hope my kids get it. Heck, I hope I do. Because, in the end, God isn't worried about our comfort and convenience; He is worried most about our character (thanks to Rick Warren for that reminder).


1 comment:

Jessica's family. said...

Ridley, thanks! As a parent and a teacher, I know these ideas to be so true. I am blessed to know that my children know thse virtues and strive to live them daily. It is my pleasure to make sure that I offer my life story to be my opportunity to lead by example.