I wrote about parenting as character building a couple days ago. Since then I’ve reflected more on this and I’ve been thinking about the work of character building as the work of shaping a heart.
The backdrop for this idea is Reggie McNeal’s book, A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders. God’s work in people is a “work of heart.” A leader’s job is also a work of heart. And a parent’s job is a work of heart as well. The primary responsibility of parents is to develop the character of their children!
The Scriptures challenge parents (Proverbs 22.6):
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Parents must do their best to shape the heart(s) of their child(ren). David was a man whose heart was shaped well. God said about David:
I have found David … a man after my own heart.
There are no guarantees in life. Even after you’ve done all the heart-shaping work you can do (and no one does it perfectly), still the child must choose his/her own path. The possibilities are a bit scary, but they’re also exciting!
Thankfully, parents are not alone in this heart-shaping work. This work is ultimately God’s work. On that note, Deuteronomy 6.4-9 offers some great advice for parents!
We plan to do some more thinking, especially on the core practices of this heart-shaping work (perhaps starting with the core practices in Deuteronomy 6). In the meantime, what practices have you found helpful in shaping your child’s heart/character?