Character is the ability to follow through with the objective or commitment long after the original motivation has passed.
We kept this family home evening simple as we wanted time at the end to set some goals as a family for the Summer. We read The Tortoise and the Hare. We talked about how the turtle worked really hard. He didn’t give up even though it was hot and he was tired. He kept going until he finished. He accomplished something great even though he wasn’t as talented as the rabbit. The rabbit, on the other hand, gave up when things got hard. As soon as he got tired, he quit. Let’s say you are running a race from point A to point Z. If you quit at the first sign of fatigue (say point G), then you never get to experience H through Z or come to realize what you could have accomplished and the power you have to do great things.
With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.
-Thomas Fowell Buxton
That which we persist in doing becomes easy to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.
We shouldn’t be lazy like the rabbit. If we are lazy and quit whenever things get hard, then we’ll never finish things and won’t accomplish anything great. We won’t feel good about ourselves because we won’t have finished anything to be proud of. Jesus didn’t quit when things were hard. He blessed the children when he was tired and He suffered for us even though it was excruciatingly painful. None of the prophets ever gave up. They did what the Lord wanted them to no matter how many hard things came their way.
God has designed this mortal existence to require nearly constant exertion. By work we sustain and enrich life. It enables us to survive the disappointments and tragedies of the mortal experience. Hard-earned achievement brings a sense of self-worth. Work builds and refines character, creates beauty, and is the instrument of our service to one another and to God. A consecrated life is filled with work, sometimes repetitive, sometimes menial, sometimes unappreciated but always work that improves, orders, sustains, lifts, ministers, aspires. (Christofferson, “Reflections on a Consecrated Life,” Nov. 2010)
Why talk about goal setting in June instead of January? As I mentioned in an earlier post, this was my husband’s idea. He doesn’t want our kids to be lazy all Summer. He doesn’t want them to just sleep, watch TV, and waste time. He wants them to continue to learn, grow, and accomplish some amazing things. Summertime is one of the best times we have to teach our children because they are out of school and home with us. We can help them accomplish things they don’t have time to do during school.
Jared and I set some personal goals for the summer, goals for the family, and goals for the kids (Caleb helped as much as he could, but since he’s only 4, Jared and I set most of the goals).
What do you want to accomplish this Summer? What do you want your kids to learn? Do you want your kids to learn how to garden, mow the lawn, edge the lawn, how to cook some more meals, how to swim, how to quilt, or learn first aid? The older our kids are, the more goals they can and should set for themselves, but we should also be making sure as parents that we teach them the necessary skills they will need to be a self-reliant adult. The best part about all of this is that you can enlist other adults (grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends, etc) to be the trainers for the kids. For example, you could invite grandma down to come and teach one of your kids how to quilt. This works especially well if you sense that your kid is going to fight you on learning a new chore/skill.
The goals for our children included educational goals, fun goals (learning to play soccer, etc), and learning how to do some new chores. I have truly learned that kids don’t magically learn to do more chores or acquire new skills – these things need to be carefully planned out. Family vacations also don’t magically happen. We’ve had summers where we only went on one family vacation simply because we failed to plan some early on and realized, to our dismay, that the Summer had flown by, and we hadn’t gone on any vacations! It was a great experience to plan our Summer so that, come September, we feel we have accomplished some important things. We brainstormed some goals, cut down the list considerably, re-wrote the goals until they were S.M.A.R.T (specific, measureable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound), and then made some charts.