Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

A Charlotte Mason Christian Home School: Preschool – 2nd Grade :)

Raise a Hero, Be a Hero

on June 14, 2013

Charlotte Mason Friends Book Club, Home Education (Vol. 1), pages 300-352

The Way of the Will

One of the marks of a hero is a strong will. As children in our society today embrace a culture of hedonism and materialism that saps their spirit and leaves them cynical, ironic, and passive, Christian parents must pray for the resolve to raise up strongmen who go against the flow. Children who heroically stand up for what they believe in, face and overcome temptation, and stand strongly in the face of adversity. Children who grow up to powerfully serve the Lord and make a difference in this world. Christian parents who aim to raise heroes, must aim to raise strong wills. “The education of the will is really of far greater importance, as shaping the destiny of the individual, than that of the intellect.” (Dr. Morell, Introduction to Mental Philosophy) Learning is common, but self control is not. Is the goal of your homeschool to train your child’s intellect? Great, you may raise up a smart kid. Is the goal of your homeschool to train your child’s will? Even better, you may raise up a hero. The real purpose of an education should be to shape a person’s destiny, not just her intellect.

A person’s will is what controls her emotions, her appetites, and desires. The more a person is ruled by these passions, the less developed the will. What we want to be doing, what we know we should be doing, we do not do, as Paul says. And Charlotte Mason contends that the major reason is for lack of a developed will. What does having a strong will mean? How is strength of will grown in a child? How does any person for that matter make herself do what she should?

Stubborn Willfulness Really Indicates a Lack of Will Power

By “strong will,” Charlotte does not mean willfulness, as in a child who is labeled “strong willed” because he is determined to have his own way (much like a toddler’s strong determination/willfulness). A state of wilfulness actually reveals a lack of controlling power over oneself, or no strength of will. When my son can’t stop crying over some small trouble, and I am tempted to look on the bright side and think, ‘well at least he has a strong will’, he is actually showing “willessness” because he doesn’t have enough strength of will to restrain himself. This is not the moment to be proud of my son’s strong will. Instead, by strong will, Charlotte means strength of character. Character is the result of conduct regulated by will. When we say that So-and-so has a great deal of character, we are in essence saying that person has a vigorous will. Likewise, someone who has no force of will, lacks character. Will is the executive power vested in a person–it says go, and he does; it says do this, and he does. If the will is in the habit of being in authority, if it constrains obedience, the kingdom within is at peace and unity with itself. If the will is feeble, the kingdom within is ungoverned and torn with disorder and rebellion. In our world we know that “strong willed” children are hard to raise because of the disorder and rebellion that accompanies. Strengthening the will of a “strong willed” (ie willless) child then is the answer to arriving at peace.

A Disciplined Will is Necessary to Heroic Christian Character

Perhaps you have your sights set on raising a child with heroic Christian character. You implement hero study as a regular part of your homeschool classroom so that your child may grow to emulate Jesus Christ, his ultimate hero, as well as other admirable historic heroes. You believe that hero study works because “….it is only as we have it in us to let a person or cause fill the whole stage of the mind, to the exclusion of self-occupation, that we are capable of large-hearted action on behalf of that person or cause.” As wonderful as all this is, we should be aware that the training of our child’s will goes hand in hand with accomplishing the noble goals of hero study. A disciplined will is not necessary in order to be a Christian, but it is the key to heroic Christian character. As mothers whose highest desire is to train our children for the Christian life, we should realize that the power of our children’s service to the Lord can be unlimited through vigorous heroic willpower. “When he wakes to the consciousness of whose he is and who he serves, she would have him ready for that high service, with every faculty in training–a man of war from his youth; above all with an effective will, to will and to do of His good pleasure.” What a beautiful vision Charlotte paints for us of a useful hero raised up to serve Christ. “And here is the line which divides the effective from the non-effective people, the great from the small, the good from the well-intentioned and respectable; it is in proportion as a man has self-controlling, self compelling power that he is able to do, even of his own pleasure; that he can depend upon himself, and be sure of his own action in emergencies.” What is the opposite of a hero, or someone with no will at all? An evil villain. Evil is perpetuated in someone who is completely given over to his carnal passions–instead of using his will to control his violent passions, his will becomes an accessory in acting them out. Let us train up vigorous wills in our children, so that we can train up heroes passionate about righteousness.

The Way the Will Works Should be Taught to Children

How do we strengthen the will of a child (or our own for that matter) so that by and by the child may employ it to control his own life? The will grows in strength only by exercising repression and direction of passions, desires, and appetites. “Let your child know the secret of willing; let him know that, by an effort of will, he can turn his thoughts to the thing he wants to think of –his lessons, his prayers, his work, and away from the things he should not think of;–that, in fact, he can be such a brave strong little fellow, he can make himself think of what he likes; and let him try little experiments––that if he once get his thoughts right, the rest will take care of itself, he will be sure to do right then; that if he feels cross, naughty thoughts coming upon him, the plan is, to think hard about something else, something nice––his next birthday, what he means to do when he is a man. Not all this at once, of course; but line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, as opportunity offers.” No work is too laborious for someone who has a happy frame of mind, or in other words, who has formed the habit of thinking of something else. No feelings of resentment can overtake a person who has formed the habit of thinking of something else rather than dwelling on the bitter feelings and allowing them to grow. The person who allows herself to later go back to the cause for offense, when all potency of feelings have worn off, is able to look at the matter with the coolness of a third person. (Don’t we always get into trouble when we are arguing with someone, and we just can’t make ourselves drop it for the moment?)

Our job as mothers training up children is to help them want to obey through the cooperation of the will. The goal is for children to compel themselves to obey. “Every effort of obedience which does not give him a sense of conquest over his own inclinations, helps to enslave him, he will resent the loss of his liberty by running into license when he can. That is the secret of the miscarrying of many strictly brought-up children. But invite his co-operation, let him heartily intend and purpose to do the thing he is bidden, and then it is his own will that is compelling him, and not yours; he has begun the greatest effort, the highest accomplishment of human life––the making, the compelling of himself. Let him know what he is about, let him enjoy a sense of triumph, and of your congratulation, whenever he fetches his thoughts back to his tiresome sum, whenever he makes his hands finish what they have begun, whenever he throws the black dog off his back, and produces a smile from a clouded face.” Doesn’t this shed light on the type of encouragement that is instrumental in the discipling process of children? Your insightful and well timed encouragement can practically illustrate living examples of the way of the will to your child, the secret of being strong. And working on developing a cooperative will in your child is worth it since its the key to training up an obedient child.

What About my Own Weak Will?

How can we train the wills of our children, if we as mothers can’t make ourselves do what we desire, let alone our children? How do we train our children to have strong wills if we ourselves do not? The world is full of weak willed adults hoping to display just a little bit of heroism in their family, the work place, the church, the community. Many of us were trained up in school settings, and in homes, where training of the will was perhaps not an important part of our rearing. Consequently, we know we should be eating healthy, we know we should be praying more, we know we should be spending less, we know we should be waking up earlier, we know we should stop mulling over other people’s faults, we know we should be cleaning out the cluttered drawers and closets, we know we should be watching less TV, staying more patient, worrying less, helping others more…..but we do not for lack of will to do it. Slaves to our natural desires, passions, and appetites. Not exactly the portrayal of heroic character before the ever watching eyes of our children that we would hope to be. In order to teach our children to have strong wills, I feel that we must try our best to exemplify it in our own lives, and this is the clincher for all of us. We obviously need to address our own lack of training at the same time we are training up our children in order to be successful.

The Secret to a Happy Life

Changing your thoughts by a sheer act of will–a thousand times of day if necessary at first–is the secret to a happy life! A happy life all begins in the mind because poor thinking leads us away from God’s will, and down the wrong path. “It is by force of will that a man can ‘change his thoughts,’ transfer his attention from one subject of thought to another, and that, with a shock of mental force of which he is distinctly conscious. And this is enough to save a man and to make a man, this power of making himself think only of those things which he has beforehand decided that it is good to think upon.” Its sounds so simple, but are you cross? Change your thoughts. Are you tired of trying? Change your thoughts. Are you craving things you are not to have? Change your thoughts. Bribing, rewarding, or punishing yourself is not as effective as simply applying the opposing force of thought. God gave you the power within you to always think of something else–something noble, pleasant, pure, lovely, praiseworthy. This is why we are commanded to dwell on the Word. You have the power to turn unhappy and wrong thoughts into happy and right thoughts. “And this is the exceedingly simple way in which the will acts; this is the sole secret of the power over himself which the strong man wields–he can compel himself to think of what he chooses, and will not allow himself in thoughts that breed mischief.” And the more you make yourself think right thoughts, the easier it gets (twenty times a day rather than a thousand!).

Charlotte’s advice is distinctively Christian, distinctively Bible. The Word says to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Proverbs says that as a man thinks, so is he. God wants us to understand the power that our thoughts have over the direction of our lives, and that we must get control in order to really make the difference of a hero in this world. We all need spiritual guidance to learn how to control our thoughts. I hope your church has been teaching its believers this fundamental truth regularly and powerfully. This online article explains how to be victorious in your thought life step by step by “taking every thought captive”.

Raise a Hero!

If education of the will is of utmost importance in an education, then who should be the one to undertake the monumental job of educating your child’s will? What teacher can spend her days in and out of the classroom attending to the formation of the will of a child, have the acute attention and insight that it requires to help develop something as complex as the will of a human being? Mother (or father), the one with maternal love to pour into the education of her child hour by hour, and the one with expertise in the strengths and weaknesses of her child is the only qualified teacher.

By training our children in the way of the will, we can give them the power to help themselves, and someday many others as well. When God puts His divine grace on top of all that, there is nothing our children can not accomplish. Just think what a vigorous will is possible for those who have been freed from the chains of sin! What a privilege to be born into a Christian family. What a privilege to have the opportunity to be a hero for Christ!

Prayer and Vision:

Don’t forget this all requires prayer. A mother needs wisdom from above. Write down or keep a journal of words of vision for your children’s lives that speak to your heart so you can keep it before the Lord in prayer. These words from God can pop up anywhere, but just don’t let them slip away because they may end up forgotten. My prayers from reading this section of Home Education are:

Let my children be men of war from their youth, to will and to do of His good pleasure!

Send noble, mighty, and Godly exemplars into my children’s lives that they also may become mighty men!

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Do you want to be a part of my Charlotte Mason Friends Book Club? Read pages 1-75 in Parents and Children (Volume 2) and bring some thoughts to share on the Little Lambs blog by July 15th. Together we can inspire others to bring the atmosphere of a living education into their home too!
  • “Faith, Do You Want to Go to the ‘Wildness’ With Me?”

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    “I am Going Off Into the ‘Wildness’ Mommy”….My Little Hero

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We Love Sighting this Bird at the Nature Park

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Noah Picked Me a Little Rosemary for My Pot Roast

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Noah Cut up All the Broccoli for This Salad With a Butter Knife!

The kids love this raw broccoli salad– they see it as a treat. They were great helpers one day and helped me make it. The ingredients are bacon, dried cranberries, golden raisins, red onions and a veganaise, honey, vinegar dressing.

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Noah Also Wanted to Help Me Vacuum a Couple of the Bedrooms

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Whoops! I Sucked up Faith’s Pajamas!

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3 responses to “Raise a Hero, Be a Hero

  1. Tara Hannon says:

    The boys thought this last photo was hilarious!

    • Miss Lynn says:

      Way to read Roman!! I couldn’t stop laughing when it happened. You can see from his face that Noah wants to be upset about it, but I think he felt all mixed up about it since mommy was laughing so much.

  2. Tara Hannon says:

    Roman helped me read this blog and we noticed that there were no pics of Faith’s face. 😦 Miss you guys!

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