He Couldn’t Argue With The Chocolate … But He Did.
As the mother of three boys who have grown into uncommon men, I must say, there is nothing like a sprouting, determined boy to challenge the wits out of an otherwise sane woman! When a mother meets an infant son for the first time, the atmosphere is charged with an assignment from heaven itself! But as the spritely little boy grows into manhood, moms often loses focus and forget the importance of our heaven-birthed commission.
One of our sons had a problem telling the truth. Our little boy was known for exaggeration, story-telling and complete deception. My pastor-husband and I had sought diligently to make our home a haven where truth was valued and where integrity mattered greatly. How could we have a son who was so truth-impaired?!
Our children were not allowed to indulge in treats, unless they had earned the treat by a particular act of obedience, kindness or disciplined behavior. The reward candy was carefully hidden where no one could find it.
One afternoon, while all 5 of my children were having a much-needed hour of quiet time, I sat on the back deck immersed in a good book. When the hour was complete, I went back into the house to call the children to the school table. When this particular son trotted into to the room, it was apparent that my husband and I were not as shrewd at hiding goodies as we had thought. Chocolate adorned his shirt, his hands and his face. This boy, with the evidence painted all over his 7-year-old body, denied having eaten the candy! He even cried and begged me to believe him!
In utter desperation, Craig and I spent an evening asking God for a strategy that would enable us to effectively disciple this son whom we loved more than life itself. God gave to us a blueprint that we have utilized in the development of character in all 5 of our children and I hope that it will be helpful to you as well.
1 – You are the perfect fit for your imperfect children.
God has given you, the parent, precisely the abilities and experiences that you will need to disciple your sons and daughters. No one else can do the job that God has called you to do because no one else is you! God has given these specific children to you because He designed you to be able to raise these particular children for the Kingdom of God.
I can see now that the very reason God gave us a child who struggled with the truth is because Craig, in particular, is a man in whom God had cultivated a deep sense of honor and integrity. He has been able to download to all of our sons the value of loving truth and living without deceit.
2 – The Word of God Changes Us.
Each month for a year we highlighted a single verse about truth, integrity or deception we would study with our son and that he would memorize. To help him we required that he write out the monthly Scripture on a 3 x 5 card each week of the month.
Craig and I believed in the power of Psalm 119:9 which promises, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.”
As parents, you can be sure that God is true when he promises, “My word … shall accomplish what I please…” – Isaiah 55:11
God’s Word is able to accomplish in your child’s life what you are unable to accomplish in your own strength!
3 – Let men and women from history inspire your son
In our attempt to teach our son the absolute importance of telling the truth, we studied the lives of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Eric Liddell and Billy Sunday. We also studied men and women who lacked integrity and how deceit impacted their lives and their destiny.
4 – Give character awards to encourage behavior that honors the Lord.
Rather than simply punishing bad behavior, Craig and I decided to be proactive in rewarding good behavior. Craig and I embarked on a daily search to recognize the vital characteristics of great living that we desired for our growing brood of McLeod’s and we created awards to encourage godly character.
For instance, a child who received an award for showing “Uncommon Kindness” might be allowed to choose a family game or movie. A child honored for “Exemplary Obedience” might be allowed a special treat or given the reward of inviting a friend over for a play date. If one of our children was recognized for “Telling the Whole Truth”, this child might be blessed with a “Daddy Date” or with a day off from chores.
Did our best efforts work in cultivating a bumper crop of integrity in our spritely, lovable bundle of boy? Well, God worked and that son who struggled with telling the truth is now a man of honor and integrity who is raising his own little boy with an outrageous imagination, freckles on his nose and spirit in his heart!
As a parent, resolve now to do all that God has enabled you to do to raise a generation whose love for truth will one day make hell shake and who will cause heaven to stand on its feet and applaud!