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    by Mike McHugh

The Need and Value of Character Studies
Date Posted: September 4, 2008

As a home school dad, I have recently had the pleasure of leading my family through a study of the book of First Samuel. As I began to move through the chapters of this book, it soon became apparent that the Lord had placed a number of powerful lessons on human nature (both good and bad) into this portion of Holy Scripture. The difficult and complex relationship that existed between King Saul and David, as well as the depiction of the faithfulness and poise of godly characters such as Jonathan and Abigail, were but a few of the topics that provided our family with a wealth of profoundly relevant character studies. Long before our family came to the end of the study of First Samuel, we had a clear understanding of the fact that Almighty God desires His people to learn important lessons from the lives of other people in order that they may improve their own characters. This truth is also supported by Romans 15:4 which states: “ For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

Most parents realize that the formation of a child’s character is not a simple undertaking. Forces are continually at work in a fallen world to discourage young people from developing the will to “walk in the strait and narrow path of righteousness.” Foolish companions, humanistic approaches to education, apathetic or morally inconsistent parents, as well as the negative impact of unwholesome music and unedifying motion-pictures, are but a few of the influences that can undermine a young person’s character. The problems that are commonly associated with ungodly external influences, however, are not the only issues that need to be addressed by parents. More than ever, Christian moms and dads need to do more than minimize their children’s exposure to ungodly people and things, they must also strive to forge godly character traits into their youngsters’ minds and hearts.

The goal of Christian character development is to bring a young person to the place where he or she desires to think God’s thoughts after Him. That is, to equip a child to hide biblical truth in his heart so that he might be empowered to love and serve God according to His Word. The process or means that a youngster must use to foster biblical character development is one in which he puts off more and more of the old man of sin, in order that the new man of righteousness and faith may emerge. (Ephesians 4:17-24)

There is nothing superficial about the business of cultivating biblical character, for one’s character is a reflection of the true estate of a person deep within their very soul. As the Bible declares: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he:” (Proverbs 23:7a) Christian parents must teach their children that the starting place for developing godly character begins with a critical examination of the intentions and attitudes of their hearts. As the psalmist David stated so well, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

The critical and foundational step of self-examination is, to say the least, very difficult for it requires a level of honesty that is naturally lacking in the soul of man. In fact, the willingness to confront the darkest aspects of our souls can only come by the grace of God. For this reason, it is foolish for those seeking to make progress in the development of their characters to think that they will succeed without first asking God for His aide. The words of Christ recorded in John 15:5 make this truth very plain, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

If you lack the time or expertise as a home educator to develop the outline and lesson plans necessary to provide your children with biblical character studies, then visit these sites to obtain everything you need free-of-charge:

Home school parents have the duty to mold their children’s character in order that they may be equipped to let their light shine before men to the glory of God. How vital it is for parents to remember that the quality of their children’s testimony in the world, will be largely based upon the depth and quality of their Christian character. What the nations of the earth need at this hour are leaders who, like Daniel of old, have a spirit that is so excellent that even unbelievers can’t help but notice (Daniel 5:1-14).

Home educators must, therefore, take the steps necessary to ensure that their children can stand before kings and shine with a poise and inner beauty that will permit them to walk uprightly in a fallen world.

Copyright 2008 Michael J. McHugh

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Biography Information:
This column is written by the staff at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights, Illinois. As a pioneer in the homeschool movement, Christian Liberty ministries has been operating a full service, K-12 home school program for over thirty years and a Christian textbook ministry (Christian Liberty Press), since 1985. The mission of Christian Liberty is to provide parents with quality, affordable educational products and services that will enable them to teach their children in the home and to train their children to serve Christ in every area of life. A more extensive explanation of the CLASS home school program can be obtained at www.homeschools.org.
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