Character Comment – Measuring Success

Measuring Success

How do you measure success? Ever since entering the business community I’ve been confronted with various “performance indicators.” I’ve worked for several corporations, each of which faced unique performance challenges. Situations and demands constantly changed; we had to adapt in order to be successful. But there was one key indicator for success that never changed — the people around me.

Years ago at an ACSI Convention, I listened to an exposition of Matthew 20:24-28. The lesson I learned there and have found to be true, again and again, was this: Do not measure success by what you are able to accomplish alone, but by the success of others around you, what they are able to accomplish as you sup- port them in their efforts. This is the lesson of Matt. 20:28. The Lord of glory “did not come to be served, but to serve.” He told the disciples that if they really wanted to be first they must do likewise — to put others first, investing their lives in service to others and their success. That is just as foreign to the culture of our day as was to His, but it is no less true. Having come to a deep appreciation of this fact, I now seek to teach and model the importance of being a positive influence and placing others first in striving for success.

Considering this as it pertains to Character Education, two items come to mind. I recently read an article by Dr. George Boggs, president of Palomar College, entitled, “Does Success in School Lead to Success at Work?” Dr. Boggs says, “Employers are more interested in what kind of people (emphasis mine) applicants are and not what they know.” Likewise, Investing In Our Children, a report published by the Council for Economic Development, coined the term, “the invisible curriculum,” which refers to teaching character education, policies and practices that are specifically designed to encourage self-disciple, reliability, perseverance and other positive traits.

Training hearts and teaching minds is what we are addressing here. This task is geared for the Covenant Community in its three-part union of home, school, and church. This is the key to fulfilling the goals of Christian Education, developing habits of the heart in training for life, and I’ll speak more to this next week.

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Character Comment – Youth Yoke Comments

Youthful Yoke Comments

Mark Hamby ended his three-part “A Youthful Yoke” article by saying, “God allows Jeremiah to feel pain so that he can experience Him as the One who can meet his deepest needs. … Young people—and adults—need to learn, … that there is one thing that you can bank on–God’s love never fails.”

I hope you found this thought-provoking and instructive in your role as Character Educators, teaming up with the staff at CCA. It is interesting how pain exposes the heart—how people, adults and children alike, will react differently to similar circumstances. Having raised three sons and one daughter, I found that though they were all very different in temperament and personality, yet there were common outcomes based upon the thought-processes and character traits nurtured over time. When we think what Christian education is, it truly is training hearts and training minds in the Lord, and notice I placed hearts first, “for what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matt 16:26)

In part 2, Mr. Hamby said, “Suffering, particularly emotional suffering, is an important process in adoles- cent development. If the adolescent receives the necessary support during this time, he or she will learn that the sun will indeed rise again another day.” This comment brought a flood of personal experiences to mind. It is critically important that we be there to support and encourage our children as they go through the trials and difficulties on the path to adulthood.

The significance of the covenant community—the wisdom and guidance of elders and teachers in the three-part union of home, school, and church—is key to fulfilling the goals of Christian Education, developing habits of the heart in training for life.

I recall a time of serious personal crisis in the life of my family, and the profound blessing of a Christian schoolteacher who came alongside my middle school son to support and help him turn that valley of darkness into a valley of vision. Today I often hear him speak on his radio show about the difficulties along the road to his accomplishments; he also notes that how that road was trod was more important then the accomplishment itself. Hearing him say that makes my heart smile.

How do you measure success? I remember when I was first confronted with that question at an ACSI Convention nearly 25 years ago when an educator was expounding Matthew 20:24-28. I was given an answer to that question that I’ve never forgotten, and have in fact repeated in nearly every new leadership position I’ve assumed since then. I’ll provide the answer to the question of success in the next installment of Character Comments.

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Character Comment – Youthful Yoke, Part 3

In the previous Character Matters we looked at Part 2 of Mark Hamby’s article “A Youthful Yoke.” Here is the third and final piece:

A Youthful Yoke, Part 3

By Mark Hamby

Previously we discussed the importance of allowing young adults to experience the consequences of their actions. In fact, we posited that Scripture teaches that suffering is a necessary part of the normal maturing process.

But during times of intense suffering, teens often build emotional walls, thus delaying the lessons they could be learning. Hosea hits the nail on the head when it comes to the reason that adolescents (and adults) fail to experience the transition from despair to hope. He writes, “And they do not cry to Me from their heart when they wail upon their beds.” (Hosea 7:14)

God desires for us to cry out to Him, to take off our masks, and pour our heart out to Him. He will hear and He will act. God bruises that He might heal. He injures in order to restore.

In his darkest hour, Jeremiah has hope. Being convinced of God’s goodness, he pens these immortal words: “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, says my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.” (Lam. 3:22-25)

God allows Jeremiah to feel pain so that he can experience Him as the One who can meet his deepest needs. Only in the midst of his pain can Jeremiah experience the resurrection power of God’s restorative compassion and grace. He has experienced it before and can count on it again for his present difficulties— for His mercies never fail, and neither does His love!

Young people—and adults—need to learn, especially in this unraveling economy, that there is one thing that you can bank on—God’s love never fails. Maybe it is time to consider opening an account today.

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Character Comment – Youthful Yoke, Part 2

Last week I introduced you to Mark Hamby of Lamplighter Publishing, and Part 1 of his three-part “Youthful Yoke” article. Here is the continuation:

The Youthful Yoke, Part 2

By Mark Hamby

We have discussed how Jeremiah’s attempt to blame God for his unfulfilled longings was evidence of his lack of maturity. Now let’s continue to look at the importance of bearing the yoke in one’s youth.

We live in a day when youth are protected from bearing their “yoke.” Well-meaning parents often shield their teens from making wrong decisions, but a wise parent understands that allowing their child to suffer the consequences of wrong choices can be a beneficial learning experience.

God knows that Jeremiah’s turmoil will help him more than hurt him. In the midst of his pain the prophet cries, “I vividly remember my sufferings and because of this, I have hope!” Can you imagine? How can he say that he has hope as he remembers how much he has suffered?

Jeremiah learns what is essential for life—that God allows suffering to mature us and to teach us that He can be trusted. As Jeremiah looks back, he sees that God has delivered him in small and unusual ways. He experiences how God delivers him from the pit of despair and fills him with hope. Hope can be found—but not apart from this very important step. Listen to the words of Hosea:

“Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up” (Hosea 6:1).

Suffering, particularly emotional suffering, is an important process in adolescent development. If the adolescent receives the necessary support during this time, he or she will learn that the sun will indeed rise again another day.

Next we’ll discuss some temptations that teens face during times of suffering, and we’ll see that the Bible, sufficient for all of life, provides a remedy to this problem as well!

… to be continued

Note: I’m so tempted to make a comment here; having raised three sons and one daughter into adulthood, I know how significant these observations are not only as they relate to the teen years, but for adolescents and young children as well. But I’ll wait for the completion of Part 3!

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