Generation Cedar

Do you ever look around and wonder where the outstanding men and women of the younger generation are?  Do you ever read historical biographies and find the young, upright characters almost unbelievable compared to today’s youth?

We seem to be breeding a culture of mediocrity.  Young people who lack that kind of fortitude and character capable of weathering any storm.  I’m appalled these days at how many reports I hear of men losing their jobs and suffering hardship and reacting to that hardship by murdering their familyies and then committing suicide….men who simply haven’t been equipped to withstand the storm.

And then there’s the dilemma I’ve heard circulating among companies and employers:  the immense dearth of employees who are faithful, hard-working and EXCELLENT at their jobs.

Where are they?  What have we done?

Our Sunday night Bible study has been studying Daniel for the past several weeks.  I think every family should delve into the life and story of Daniel. 

Daniel was very young when he went into the service for the king.  The king was a wicked and harsh man and Daniel exhibited excellence of character at every turn.  Read through that book with new eyes.

A friend recently shared with me how her two homeschool-graduate sons were doing in their classes at college.  She humbly expressed gratitude that their professors seemed to be overwhelmed with their character, introducing them to colleagues at every chance, and in general, praising them for their diligence in their work and their outstanding communication skills.  It’s as if they’ve discovered a rare treasure among their students.

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.”  Proverbs 22:29

How do parents raise children to be “skilled in his work”?  Excellent?  (Bear in mind the “excellence” I’m describing here is not “arrogance” but diligence, and the portrayal of godly character.)

It starts right at the beginning, just like everything else.  And it involves intensity of effort on our parts.  (Anything good requires intense effort!)  Here are a few things I thought of that would help us raise children of excellent character:

  • Give them responsibility as early as possible, and praise their efforts.  As soon as a baby can walk, he can begin to help.  Let him know that his help is valuable–picking up a block, throwing a piece of trash away, etc.  Increase that work according to ability.

 

  • Hold up examples of excellence.  I mentioned reading biographies–these are great tools for “showing” your children what godly character looks like, and how a life is blessed by excellence of character.

 

  • Model it.  We can’t miss the obvious!  How do you respond to life situations?  Are you honest?  Level-headed?  Do you go to the Bible for insight in handling situations?

 

  • Don’t say “YES” to everything.  Parents have the grave misconception that to love them is to give them everything and not to deny their every want.  I submit this can be detrimental to a child’s character.  Of course we enjoy giving good gifts to our children, but they also need to learn to be content and to see us exercising wisdom as we make choices.

 

  • Teach them the Word of God.  Another obvious one, but how many of today’s youth are really being saturated with the instruction of Scripture?  Do they know what the Bible says about how to handle situations?  It’s more than attending church on Sundays too.  It’s daily implanting the Word in their hearts “when we rise up, when we lie down, when we sit in our house, and when we walk by the way”. 

Can I just say it again…it’s WORK!!!!  And that is exactly what we have been called to.   Roll up those sleeves 😉

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8 Responses

  1. Sometimes I think that, in this age of self-love, we forget that we are indeed called to excellence: we are called to be saints; to be made perfect as He is perfect and holy as He is holy. Of course, this work can’t be done on our own (no self-help books allowed!), which makes it even less appealing to our culture. Die to self? Lose your individuality while an unseen Father changes and refines your character? And, I think you’re right, Kelly: It begins with God, but His primary tools for children are us, parents. We cannot neglect our duties.
    ~Bethany

  2. Kelly,
    Have you ever read Richard Weaver’s “Ideas Have Consequences”? I’ve noticed that many of your posts seem to echo what he says. If you’ve not read it, I think you’d enjoy it very much – it’s not that long, either, which is good for busy days! 🙂

  3. I agree that mediocrity is alive and well on earth, but Im not sure how we can be sure it wasnt always here. Unfortunately, back in the 1800’s, if a parent *was* mediocre, he or she probably wasnt going to be the one writing a book…..so we are left with all the ‘good examples’ in print. When I read the bible there are so many reasons to believe many people didnt understand the standard….otherwise Paul wouldnt have had so much to say in his letters to them all. I dont think ‘we’ breed mediocrity; sin does. It sounds like many who post here are really doing their part as best they can any given day, so perhaps it isnt as awful as we think? I know there is a natural endency toward further decay as the world spins another day on its axis….so sure things have gotten WORSE….but my thoughts are moreso that mediocrity has always been a problem….in everything. Its human nature.

    Bethany, I would be interested to hear your understanding on two questions of mine….which I asked myself when reading your post….I know we cant ‘do it on our own’, but why arent self-help books allowed? Are all self help books somehow piled into one pile? I mean my friend read a ton of self help books on sexual abuse because it pertained to her past, which was affecting her present, yet she is healing and attests to that. But, maybe you were speaking in context. The second question is about individuality….why must we lose our individuality? I am not sure again, what angle you are saying that from, so perhaps I misunderstand or dont grasp the full effect? Maybe I understand about losing some ‘freedoms’ while under character construction, but in my mind I dont think God wants to destroy our individuality-after all, He created us all so different and diverse. For me, character refining and individuality can dually work alongside the other, without either operation ‘suffering’ or losing its ‘salt’. I am really trying to understand….thanks for any consideration.

    (Kelly, if you would prefer, I could email Bethany personally….I do not want to ‘sidetrack’ your blog….as much as lies within me;)

  4. authenticallyme- Let me tackle each question individually:
    1. I never meant that self-help books weren’t “allowed,” just that most of them are not of much use for a Christian. They tend to tell spew a lot of rhetoric about “reaching inside and drawing from our own spirits.” While I believe that God does use His graces to strengthen the spirit that is already within us, I have learned from experience that that grace is VITAL; I can’t just rely on my inner reserves; I need His strength. I need Him to be strong in my weakness. Certainly, there is nothing “wrong” with psychology or self-help, but what the Christian realizes she needs most of all is “God-help”. That’s all I meant.
    2. What I perhaps meant was “losing our independence.” We do not lose our uniqueness and humanity in becoming Christians, but we do yield that completely to the Father, and we often find ourselves quite changed people who no longer run their own shows but allow Him to change us to be more like Him. I think our “individuality” is also redefined when we give ourselves to Christ. The “character” I had built up for myself before yielding to Him is certainly very different from the individual I am now. Does that make sense? Certainly, we’re not supposed to become cookie-cutter zombies or something; but we also make the choice, in choosing Christ, to become less our vision of ourselves and more His vision of ourselves.
    ~Bethany

  5. I have thought about this a lot… especially in the past few months. Daniel and the three Hebrew boys ….wow… fabulous examples for our young people to follow. Thank you for this post!

  6. An inspiring post. I agree that the more parents teach their young children responsibility, the better off they will be. Teaching responsibility around the house, responsibility as a person, etc.

    My 19-month old helps pick up his toys, and whenever he puts something out of place, he is instructed to put it back, and he promptly does so. It has started to become ingrained in him, and he puts things back without being told to do so.

    I pray that I can raise my children with a desire and diligence to reach for excellence in their character and responsibilities.

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