Character Comment – TEAMwork: A Review (Part 2)

TEAM2work: A Review (Part 2)

Last week I left off with a quote from Thomas Paine: “When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.”

I also asked a question for dinner table conversation: At the end of it all, what do you hope to hear from your Lord?  What answer did you and your family come up with? Did you find a hint to the answer hidden within Paine’s quote? The hint is subtle, tied to just one word—virtue.

Virtue is a rich word in English, with deep significance for the Character Advocate. However, the definition of the Greek word found in Scripture is rather straight-forward; it means “well-doing.” That fits with my opening question and what I hope was your heart’s response. Does “well-doing” trigger your thoughts?  Do the words of our Lord come to mind? At the end of it all, we want Him to say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful, …enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:21 KJV). Entering into the “joy of thy Lord” is a matter of working out the Christian life with Spirit-produced virtue.

Consider Paul’s instructions: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8-9).

Or Peter’s exhortation: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue… And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:3, 5-8).

Krejcir, Ph.D., comments that, “virtue is not the talk of the town these days; in fact, it is depicted in our culture as weak and useless. It is the butt of jokes. It is forgotten as part of a perceived bygone era filled with contempt and arrogance.” Well-doing is not only no longer in vogue, but the very opposite of virtue is celebrated in song and sport.

We, the people of God, are called to be different. We are called to virtue, to well-doing in all things. We long to hear, at the end of time, “Well done, good and faith servant.”              …to be continued

read more

Character Comment – TEAMwork: A Review

TEAMwork: A Review

Here’s a question for dinner-table conversion or personal introspection: At the end of it all, what do you hope to hear from your Lord? The comments below may help you determine your response.

Several years ago a public figure wrote a book entitled It Takes a Village, a book that presents a vision for raising children within society. The focus is on the impact individuals and groups outside the family have, for better or for worse, on a child’s wellbeing; in fact, the author advocates a society that would meet all of a child’s needs. Opponents replied, “It does not take a village to raise a child; it takes a family.” 
From a biblical perspective, there is truth to both sides of the debate. The family is the basic institution of society, established by God from the beginning. The family structure is a creation ordinance, the foundation for all human relations, and the main setting for training up a child. From Deut. 6:7 to Eph. 6:4, we see that parents have the primary responsibility for the education of their children, specifically in a Christian context. On the other hand, our families are part of the broader covenant community; we have shared identity as a body of believers, a community with covenant responsibility. It does “take a village” to raise a child, or rather, it takes a covenant community—a community which works alongside the family to train hearts and teach minds in all wisdom for life in Christ. 
This is why we at Covenant Christian Academy say that Christian Education is, and must be, a partnership of the home, church, and school. This is why CCA has adopted the term TEAM2workTeach, Encourage, Advocate, and Model/Mentor—to banner our character curriculum efforts. We’ll review each of those terms in the next several weeks. But for now, remember this: as parents and teachers, we are Character Advocates, working together to foster and ingrain Habits of the Heart. Rejoice in this task of community opportunity that God has given us!

“When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.”   -Thomas Paine

read more

Character Comment – What Kind of Person a Student Is (Part 3)

What Kind of Person a Student Is (Part 3)

“The end towards which a [student] uses their intellectual training…is our principle concern; that is, we care most of all what kind of person a student is.”
–F. Washington Jarvis (With Love and Prayers)

To illustrate this point, I introduced a story last week from Mark Hamby of Lamplighter Publications, leaving a cliffhanger at the end. To recap the story, eight-year-old Gilbert, to everyone’s surprise, was the winner at the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. Noticing that he had prayed before his final run, the scout master asked, “Did you pray to win, son?” Gilbert shook his head and said, “No sir. That wouldn’t be fair.”

So, what do you think little Gilbert prayed? How would you have ended this story? Did you discuss it at home? What ending did you come up with? Well, let’s see how Mr. Hamby ended his narrative:

Little Gilbert shook his head. “No sir. That wouldn’t be fair. I asked God to not let me cry if I lost.” That simple prayer spoke volumes to everyone present. Gilbert didn’t ask God to win, make things fair, or remove his pain. He simply prayed to endure it.

How well Gilbert understood the promise of Philippians 4:13 – “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength,” or the promise of James 4, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to consume it on your passions . . . But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’“

So what lessons are here? There are several topics for dinner table conversation.

1) Why was everyone surprised that Gilbert won? What does this say about our million-dollar athlete and celebrity culture?

2) How little Gilbert prayed “spoke volumes” as to his character and what was important to him; would you have prayed the same way?

3) What does Gilbert’s response, “that wouldn’t be fair,” say about his faith? 4) What does it mean that he “prayed to endure”?

5) Consider your own response to this story; the ending you would have written says much about your character. Why do we root for the under-dog?

This verse might help your Character Advocate discussions: “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Rom. 5:3-4). 

read more

Character Comment – What Kind of Person a Student Is (Part 2)

Character Matters

What Kind of Person a Student Is – Part 2

“It is to the end towards which a [student] uses their intellectual training that is our principle concern; that is, we care most of all what kind of person a student is in the final analysis.” F. Washington Jarvis (With Love and Prayers

At CCA we have picked up and coined several phrases to describe our educational goal, what we consider the mandate of Christian Education, the vision that guides our mission.   We too are concerned for “what kind of person a student is (and will be) in the final analysis” when we use phrases like:

  • Training Hearts and Teaching Minds in Education for Life
  • Fostering Habits of the Heart
  • TEAMwork: Teach, Encourage, Advocate, and Mentor (or Model)
  • Being Character Advocates

Last year I used the phrase “Synergy (2+2=5)” to define the combining of different things to make another thing, the metaphor that points to the ultimate character objective in how our Heavenly Father uses all things to bring his children into conformity to His beloved Son (Gen 50:20, cp Rom 8:29).

And so there are two sides to this Christian coin that attempts to educate for life.  The simple analogy is that one side is “the mind,” where we teach knowledge and truth, the other is “the heart,” the seat of who we are where the virtues of wisdom and grace and the fruit of the spirit are fostered by the work of the Holy Spirit.  And “we beheld [Jesus], the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)  This is the narrative of scripture that consistently points us to the objective of Training Hearts and Teaching Minds in Education for Life – to which all good narratives point.  For instance, here’s a story from Mark Hamby that tells much.  The title is withheld to not betray the ending:

Eight-year-old Gilbert was the odd-man-out at the Cub Scout “Pinewood Derby” event.

All of the other scouts had sleekly crafted cars with cool paint jobs – obviously the result of father-son partnerships. But Gilbert’s “Blue Lightning” was crudely made, lopsided and a little wobbly. Worse yet, every scout had a proud dad standing by his side, but Gilbert was accompanied by “Mom.”

In a Pinewood Derby, wooden cars race down a ramp in an elimination-style competition. You keep racing as long as you win. And quite unexpectedly “Blue Lightning” kept winning, over and over again, until it was pitted in a final contest against the sleekest, fastest-looking car there.

At that moment Gilbert asked if he could pray. His brow wrinkled in concentration, he prayed for a very long minute and a half. Finally he smiled and said, “I’m ready.”

To everyone’s surprise, “Blue Lightning” won by a nose and the crowd roared with approval. The scout master approached with a microphone and asked, “Did you pray to win, son?” Little Gilbert shook his head. “No sir. That wouldn’t be fair. I asked ……..         …to be continued.

read more