Are you ever disheartened because your children aren’t making the progress you desire, particularly in an area of godly character growth? Does this sometimes cause you to want to give up on it? I remember working with our five younger children on responding to directions with a simple “Yes, Ma’am” or “No. Ma’am.” There had been too many situations where I didn’t know if a child was disobedient or simply hadn’t heard what he was to do. Would you believe it took a year and a half of focusing on that for them to learn to consistently respond?
Does a year and a half sound like a long time to learn to say, “Yes, Ma’am?” It sure did to me! That experience brought me a new perspective on the reality of what character teaching really meant! It might take weeks, months, and even years.
Ephesians 6:4 says, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Therefore, we are to be obedient and consistent in teaching our children the ways of the Lord. We instruct, disciple, discipline, encourage, and praise. We pray diligently concerning the specific areas we are working toward. However, the results are not ours! They are the Lord’s, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Whether it takes a week, a month, a year, or ten years does not matter.
How freeing this should be for you, as a mom. You do not shoulder the responsibility for the outcome. On the other hand, remaining consistent in the teaching is tremendous. It can become wearisome, at times, if your eyes come off the Lord and onto yourself. Galatians 6:9 is a familiar verse that says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Might we agree on the importance of our children going in godly character?
It should not be surprising that it would take children time to develop godly character. Consider your own personal struggles with character as an adult. For example, how often do you respond to your children with a slight tone of irritation in your voice? Is that the way you want to answer them? Have you prayed and worked toward not letting this happen? Do you still do it?
Hebrews 5:14 says, “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” If, “by reason of use,” we come to discern both good and evil, it makes sense to me that “by reason of use” is also an integral part of learning to do good. “Character” doesn’t happen overnight!
Expect the development of godly character to be a long,, ongoing process worthy of the pouring out of your very life! Don’t look at the short-range progress but at the long-term goals. Set your heart, prayers, and consistent teaching on the Lord’s desire for your child to grow in Christ-likeness. Then patiently, day by day, teach, train, and love your children toward their character growth, knowing that the Lord Who has called you is faithful. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” (Hebrews 10:23).
What about you? Have you been discouraged lately over a lack of character growth in your children? Have you become weary in your well doing? May I encourage you to step back, take a deep breath, lift your heart to the Lord, and continue on. Be ready for the long haul, not looking for immediate results but trusting the Lord to accomplish His will.