I’m so grateful that Pinnacle Classical Academy has a headmaster who cares deeply about building biblical, godly character in his own children and the students at PCA. Thursday evening I had the pleasure of attending an informal seminar at PCA hosted by our headmaster, Bill Izard. The topic was entitled Men of Valor, Women of Virtue and it was both simple and profound. The heart of the topic was about raising our children in such as way as to both model and thus instill in them a character that is in line with God’s ideal for us. In quintessential classical style, Mr. Izard encouraged us as parents and teachers to put great importance on growing our kids’ character and less on the career they may someday have.
Greater Value Than Skills Alone
If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us want our kids to be the kind of people who come up with good ideas to make the world a better place, which in turn often creates good jobs. This is a different sort of training than the average American education, which focuses on specific skills and a career. Skills are helpful and wise and even necessary to succeed in life, but to have an exemplary character is something of greater value than skills alone. Character is what allows you to get a job in the first place, to keep the job, to move up in a job, and to dream about how to improve the world within your job or season of life.
The ancient Greeks understood this focus. Even the pagan Greeks recognized an ideal set of character qualities that made a man or a woman worthy and able to handle any job or situation they might face. They trained their youth to measure up to this standard, a method referred to as paideia. What’s even more interesting is that Paul borrowed this idea of paideia when he said in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” or the paideia of the Lord – the teaching and standard of our Lord God.
So what is God’s standard for our character? In Exodus 18:21, Moses is exhorted to delegate some of his responsibilities to able men, a term in the original language that refers to mighty men, men of valor (courage in the face of danger), and men of excellence. In Exodus, Moses is looking for men who are able to carry out the task at hand, men who fear God, men of truth, who hate covetousness, who can lead the people in an honest way, serving them the way Jesus would later model for us.
This term men of valor is used in other parts of the Bible in the feminine form for women, translated women of virtue, placing the same value on many of the same characteristics for both men and women. In Proverbs 31:10-31, a particular woman is described who depicts God’s character. She serves her servants and creates things to benefit her family and beautify her world. She is productive. She fears the Lord. She knows how to care for her family. She is able to carry out the task at hand. She is an able woman.
In Acts 6:3, the disciples are exhorted to delegate responsibilities to men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. In Titus 1:4-9, God’s standard for men to lead in the church is that they be faithful to their one wife, above reproach, blameless, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine (or controlled by the desire to have it), just, and self-controlled, to name a few. For more on God’s ideal measure of an able man or woman, check out 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Exodus 20:1-17, Matthew 5:3-10, Galatians 5:22-23, Titus 2:1-10, and Psalm 15. These are the passages Mr. Izard sent us home with and encouraged us to pray through, asking God to help us and our children to grow in these character qualities.
We Need a Revival
One of the final thoughts that Mr. Izard left us with was full of valor and virtue. “We need a reformation,” he said, “We need a revival.” We need to raise up children who are qualified and able by the standards of God and who will stand up for truth. We live in a world that is falling away and has fallen from the fear of the Lord and the truth of His Word. We need to raise able bodied men and women who are courageous to take a stand, bold to make a mark, and honorable to lead us into change for His glory.
On my way home from the seminar, I saw a shooting star, bright and bold in all its splendor. Alone in my car, I gasped out loud as it caught me by surprise. I didn’t notice the hundreds of other stars twinkling in the night sky that night. But that brief, bright streak of magnificence was memorable. It stood out. It caught my attention with it’s bold move. It has marked me. And then the ideas of the seminar rushed over me. That shooting star was full of valor. I want to raise shooting stars. I want to raise kids who make a bold move to change the world for His glory. I want them to live lives that lead us to the Lord and His splendor.
Grace and Blessing
God’s standard is overwhelming (and impossible!) to meet. I am so grateful that He is gracious in our shortcomings! Thank God for grace. Thank God for His Holy Spirit, who is crafting me and each of His followers into His perfect standard and that His work in us will one day be completed (Philippians 1:6-11)! Thank God that He is able to use me to mold my children into His character, and He is capable of picking up the slack when I fail. Thank God for PCA and the many godly examples my kids have at school to reinforce God’s best for us. I am grateful for the honor of raising my children in the paideia of the Lord, grateful that He offers grace when I fail, and grateful that I am not alone. Thank you Pinnacle Classical Academy for walking beside our family and our children as we strive to allow God to transform us into His ideal character!