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Stand Up In Your Community

By Lori Harris
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #21, 1998.

Teaching character through community service.

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Lori Harris

This issue I want to share with you how the principles of Christian Character and Conscience motivate our family to be involved in our community. In this age of consumers, those who are producers are either shunned or looked upon with awe. A few generations ago when everyone produced for themselves and others, serving came a little more naturally. Producers are servers who also become good leaders because they lead by example.

There are certain qualities found in productive citizens which make an impact long after the physical work is over. Let's look at a couple of these qualities.

Character in Practice

Christian character - the peculiar qualities pertaining to Christ and His Word that are impressed upon a person which distinguishes him from others. (Webster's 1828)

The Principle of Christian Character is lived out by asking the question, "What would Jesus do?" We try to give our children many read-aloud family times where we discuss the choices made by the people in the story. Some of these book choices are true stories, but fiction serves well also. The object is to show them nobility and virtue and use this precious family time to soften and mold the heart of the child. These memory-making moments are stolen from the life of the family if a television is used to replace the time God has given parents to teach.

We also volunteer. Instead of complaining about the state of the world, we get out in it and try to change it. Our children sing at a local nursing home once a week. It has served to teach us servanthood and caring. We understand biblical principles of honor, caring for the elderly, turning the other cheek (some of these old people are grumpy!), and ministering to those less fortunate than ourselves. Every time we go, we see a new aspect of Christ's character revealed to us as a family.

We also try to point out to our children what happens when there is no standard of Christian character. In the past, a man's word was more important than a contract. A handshake between two parties sealed the agreement. That is not so today, even among Christians. The opposite of Christian character is degradation and no standards. I have not had a problem with my children understanding the difference. God's Word is very clear when He says to come out from among them and be separate (II Corinthians 6:17).

My reputation is what my friends think and see,
My character is built up by what Christ works in me.

Steve Dawson

Families who regularly serve have this trait so ingrained in them, they seem to automatically get involved in all kinds of things. They begin to see places that need holes plugged and usually are the ones who plug them.

Conscience requires that we do something. Character demands that the "something" be the best it can be. What are other areas where families might serve? Mission outreaches sponsored by homeschool support groups or churches are always good. They tend to be economical and a lot of hard work and fun for the entire family. The heart of the individual is stretched to true servanthood before the growing and stretching time of outreach is over. The experiences of these times will last a lifetime.

If your family is phonics literate, try your hand at English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. There are always people hungry for knowledge and God has given us the great privilege of speaking and reading the English language. According to Noah Webster, English is the language of liberty. Do you agree? The English language has caused the gospel to be spread to all parts of the world.

Most libraries also ask for volunteer readers. This summer, two of our children worked in the summer reading program. As a result they were able to steer quite a few children who don't know how to choose good books to some of their own favorites. The librarian has a special place in her heart for them because she was able to watch them in action. We hope this will lead to further the input and suggestions for quality literature in the public library.

How about service clubs? We are a part of 4-H where we choose and lead projects of our liking. I use many of these projects for school credit, but we are also able to connect many of the families with the gospel.

Standing in the Community

Conscience - "the faculty, power or principle within us which decides upon the lawfulness or unlawfulness of our own actions and affections and instantly condemns or approves our duty, before we proceed to action, then in judging of our actions when performed."

The Principle of Conscience is reinforced by teaching our children to take a stand and stick with it. Stands aren't popular these days. Christians have developed the pagan mentality of not bothering the other guy. God tells us to "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). Taking a stand requires a person to do what is right, even if it is unpopular and the glory never comes. Many times, in trying to save face, the principles have been swept aside. We are depriving our families of a very important lesson - perseverance. The necessity for perseverance can be seen in more areas of life than we realize.

There are numerous examples of perseverance paying off. The Wright brothers were believers who had a long-term vision planted in them by God. In the face of odds that would run the best of us off, they persevered; and now traveling by plane is common. The list goes on and on with men and women who stayed faithful to the vision God planted. Their faithfulness and commitment glorified God and benefited man. This biblical principle can be further termed Stewardship. We are to be stewards of everything God has entrusted to us, whether they be relationships, jobs, ministries, school work, or cleaning the bathroom.

God made me for His purpose
He fashioned me to be
An image for His glory,
Almighty Father, He.

Rosalie Slater

Conscience cannot be bought or sold; it can only be given. If we go along with only what is fashionable and socially acceptable, and fail to train our children to take a stand when one is needed, we will have committed them to the very opposite of this principle - an acceptance of a socialist and communistic mentality. The next generation will be able to discern the problem and apply the solution only as we train them in character and conscience.

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