A Matter of the Heart, Part 3: The 6th R

A Matter of the Heart, Part 3: The 6th R

“Appearances?  Do what you are because whether you do or not, you will only influence [others] by what you are.”  GCM

I closed last week’s comments with this question: Stop and think for a moment, who are those that have had the most influence upon your life, giving shape to who you are today, either in a positive or negative way? We were also reminded last week of this quotation from John Angell James: “The silent influence of parental conduct is far greater, either for good or for evil, than most parents are aware of. You teach by what you say, you influence by what you do; and also by what you do not say, and do not perform.”

With all that in mind, let me close this school year with a summer-break encouragement regarding the 6th R.

You are probably familiar with the three R’s of education: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. There are also two additional R’s, Respect and Responsibility that are aimed at Character Training. But there is also a 6th R that is vital to all the rest: Relationship. In his book The Teen Whisperer, Mike Lenderman, a Montana rancher who deals with troubled youth, repeatedly speaks to the issue of relationships, saying among other things that “all long-lasting problems are relationship problems, …the result of our losing connection with the people we need.” Notice he says “need” not “want.” That is an important distinction when it comes to the developing mind and thinking of youth. He also points out that “the only person whose behavior we can [ultimately] control is our own.” Again to repeat from last week, “[When we] offer morality by external control instead of inner transformation—when the controls go away, so does the morality” (Joel Belz).

Character Advocate and parents, I ask again, who are the people that have most influenced your life, not just with their words, but with their words and lives in a heart filled relationship to them? I learned long ago from my own children and now my grandkids that it is not the things you can give them that they want (or need) most; it is you yourself that they long to possess, your heart. Relationships are indeed what we value most—our relationship with our God, and our soul-expanding connections with others.

One of the things I enjoy most about the writings of Mark Hamby is his repeated refrain of “placing relationship above responsibility.” It is not an either/or, but a both/and that is true with all the other R’s; we need to set the right priority for each. Said another way, “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion” (J.C. Watts, on leadership and parenting).

In placing relationship above responsibility, we really understand that all learning, especially in terms of Training Hearts and Teaching Minds for life in Christ, is again the matter of the heart, and “What comes from the heart goes to the heart” (Samuel T. Coleridge).

Parents often ask teachers about summer reading and such to prepare for the next school year. As important as that is, let me repeat my annual exhortation: I was once told by a very wise mentor, “Your children ask for many things, but deep down they don’t want what you can give them, as much as they just want you—time with you, your attention at eye level where they can see your smile and show you theirs.” Use this summer break to prepare your child not just for next year, but for all the days to come.

I have posted on our website an excellent piece on this topic: “Softened Authority” by Mark Hamby. https://ccawestminster.com/2014/06/soft-authority-by-mark-hamby/

“Only when a child truly possess your heart, will you begin to possess theirs” – anon

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal