This is part three of a five part series of devos featured by Mark Elfstrand on The Morning Ride on WMBI 90.1 FM Chicago
Henry Clay said, “Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character.”
If there is one virtue we want to see embodied in the next generation, it is integrity. Why? Because integrity, like a rock, will endure in the good times and the bad.
Today, as we see our world come apart at the seems, many Christians want to blame the media, the politicians, or Hollywood. But all of those entities are just reflections of us, the people. And if there is on deficit worth sweating over, its not the federal deficit, but the character deficit.
William R. Allen said, “Certainly it is a world of scarcity. But the scarcity is not confined to iron ore and arable land. The most constricting scarcities are those of character and personality.”
So what do parents do? We can complain about the lack of integrity in our society or we can do something. We may not be able to control the media, the politicians, or Hollywood, but we can have influence on how the children entrusted to our care live their lives.
Integrity begins at home. In Ephesians 6, Paul gives father’s a challenge. He says that Dads can either frustrate their children or raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
In today’s language we might say that a father can make a mark or leave a scar. And nowhere is a father’s influence greater than in the way he carries himself every single day.
Children want to see authenticity in their parents. Not perfection. Not legalism. But authentic character that resists the temptation to compromise. It has been said that kids hear what you tell them, but they internalize what you show them.
And let’s be clear, by integrity we don’t mean Phariseeism, more man-made rules. We don’t mean arrogance that boasts of self-righteousness. In fact, the hypocrisy of living by lists often leads children to reject the faith of their parents, because they see the holes in a works-based relationship with God.
Integrity is something different. We’re talking about Christian character, like humility, sacrifice, honesty, loyalty, and faith. The old fashioned virtues so absent in our society.
So how does a parent instill these values in their children? Besides modeling integrity, parents must be intentional about teaching integrity in the everyday. Use real-world examples from the playground, the classroom, and the living room. Conflicts with friends, neighbors and siblings provide rich opportunities to train children to do the right thing, every single time.
The important thing is to pepper correction and instruction with Scripture, so the children understand that the rules are not Mom and Dad’s rules, but are based in something higher. It will teach them to be accountable to God, so when they leave home, they will remember to Whom they answer.
Most important, remember that children have eyes that see everything, even those things we think we’ve carefully hidden. Our own dishonesties or shortcuts don’t escape their notice. Which means we actually have to live the life we want them to live.
But remember, the sacrifice is worth it. Because in passing down the values of character and integrity, you’re giving your children a gift.
For the complete audio message, click here.