Valuing Training: The Foundation for Excellence

Rembrandt, The Money Changer

My sweet friend, Ann Voskamp, rightly says,

 “Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.” 

― (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are)

As I begin a focus on training our children’s character on Monday, a foundation for the significance of training is necessary. Scripture tells us to train up a child in the way he should go.

Training: the education, instruction and discipline of the knowledge of a value, a habit or an action to be learned. This from three different sources I combined–and so it is my definition! :)

When one is given knowledge of how to act, behave, and implement certain skills, the natural consequences include having wisdom on how to behave, confidence in action, and skill to employ in life. For this reason, training is essential to the healthy well-being of a child, so he or she may become wise, knowledgeable and competent in living life in a strong and healthy way.

Training can be illustrated in many ways. An athlete must learn and train to become a champion. A pianist must be instructed and practice to become a concert performer. An artist must learn the skills and philosophy of drawing and painting and then practice to become masterful at his craft.

Rembrandt became a master of light and  a detailed painter of exquisite faces by training, practice, and years and years of painting, over and over and over again–practice. And so it is with any craft, skill, degree or accomplishment.

However, the need of training is also true of character and a Christian testimony–the character that is habituated to improving, developing integrity by practice, stretching to work hard, to do the best, to exceed expectations comes from daily practice and personal integrity. Those whose ideals are set high and aim each day to pursue those ideals will have the opportunity to become excellent in any field.

This comes from an inner grid, the way one learns to see life and expect himself to live. We called this “self-government,” when we trained excellence of character into the very fiber of our children’s souls.

We are surrounded by mediocrity, compromise and substandard Christians in several public arenas and personal situations lately. Morals are compromised, testimonies tarnished.  I have asked myself, with the image of the living God imprinted upon my very being … Shouldn’t I, and all true believers,  be able to call forth excellence and integrity as a reflection of Him in my life?

“…whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7

Yet excellence and integrity is a personal issue. One can only become this way through a personal commitment, a vision of oneself, and a decision that says,

“Regardless of what is happening around me, I will be the best I can be, work the hardest I am able, pursue the highest standards–especially for my personal life where no one but God sees–because I have been bought with a price and have His Holy Spirit residing within. My worship of Him requires that I pursue the standard of His holiness as an affirmation of His reality in my life.”

Whether as a mother training the character of children, filling their minds with excellent writers, artists, and thinkers, or simply as a woman being a steward of every aspect of her life, one can only become excellent by stretching, determining to obey His still small voice and then using every resource to pursue bringing His light and imprint upon this world.

This labor of excellence, personally and in the lives of our children, will take many long years–but if we are not committed to pursuing whatever it takes to build this excellence, then what hope does our future have–and even more, how can we represent Him, who has given all?

Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” We are called to become leaders that others can follow and emulate.With every year of faith, there should be more of Him reflecting through our lives; more excellence, more devotion, more wisdom, more influence.

It is not a choice, it is a call on our lives. We cannot say, “I am a Christian, but I think I will make “C”s or “D”s in my character choices.” We aim high because the love of Christ compels us.

More in the months ahead. I have just been pondering–why are so many believers falling so short of His best? Why is there so much mediocrity in the character and behavior of people and especially believers in Christ in this generation? Could it be a lack of value placed upon the importance of training?

I am not writing  about being a pharisee–a person of rules, pretending to display righteousness, but about exhibiting the qualities we are capable of and should expect as royalty–children of the most high God and King. We have set our standards far too low…….

May our hearts pursue Him and find in His presence that His very being is reflected in and through our hearts, as we train to more suitably emulate His reality.

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  1. says

    Love this, Sally! You inspire me to be more intentional to train my children in righteousness. I’m also convicted to take more seriously my personal character, as my kids will surely learn most from what I model.

  2. says

    Agreed! Training our sweet kiddos takes action, planning, and diligence:) As well as for ourselves! :) Love your point about filling our lives with excellence!

  3. monica says

    So perfectly said. I think that there is so many times that we are consumed about what those around us are doing and how they are doing it that we forget that our audience needs to be ONE. We need to strive to do our best with the kids God gave us. The exact way this is done looks different in homes because the kids God gave each of us is different. Thanks so much Sally for this great reminder.

  4. says

    Again, so beautifully written. So powerful, and so necessary!

    I found I, myself, have been falling a bit short lately. I have so many earthly excuses, but they are pretty pathetic. I know I am capable of more, of being better, and shining brighter.

    Thank you for the reminder of who we are!

  5. Elizabeth W. says

    A wonderful encouragement and challenge for my day today! It makes the goal setter in me get excited, but truly big changes come about one small choice or new habit at a time. I have been thinking lately how important my own character is as my children are growing out of the little years, and they will be learning more from who I am than what I say. I notice certain good things my children just do naturally, things I have never even made a point of teaching them, are the things that either my husband or I are good at. We do not know what boredom is in this household, as both of us always haver more we’d love to do than what we have time for, and I see our children being so creative and motivated when other mothers talk of whining, bored kids. I have not really taught this, but this is who I am. I do not have to tell my kids to spend time reading, they love it because I do! On the flip side, the things I see that I am not getting through to my children on are the very things I myself am still trying to master. I want them to sing around the house, but I do not do it, so I see we are struggling to make any progress in this. I can tell them about the importance of reading God’s Word, but unless they see me really making it my first priority, it won’t be theirs either. I’m not going on a guilt trip here, as there are certainly things where their character flaws are simply due to their immaturity, not my fault, but the pattern I see is sobering. I want to make sure I spend more energy working on my character training so that they will get to learn many of these things almost without trying. My parents blessed me with a lot of “free character” and disciplines mastered because of God’s transforming power in them, and I want to keep the list growing, passing it all and more to the next generation!

  6. Jessica says

    Sally, I have really been mulling over your posts from today and yesterday! Bummer about the video! :) I really commend you for speaking on a subject that seems to be a dying one in many of the the Christian circles (both online, and in person) that I have been in recently.

    “I have just been pondering–why are so many believers falling so short of His best? Why is there so much mediocrity in the character and behavior of people and especially believers in Christ in this generation?” -Sally

    YES! We don’t do anyone any favors to say that it is okay to sin or to water down the truth about the earthly struggles that can often come as a result of our sin. What Christ did on the cross DOES INDEED cover ALL sins. I don’t feel good, however, with the strong message coming from so many Christian leaders that mediocrity in character is no big deal. Thanks for the wakeup call on that! I know I needed this reminder for my own walk! Raising kids takes a lot! God is gracious and can cover so much where I fail. However, I can’t ignore the work that he has put before me in raising my kids just because it is hard or I would rather do what I want when I want. Thanks again for interesting stuff to think about and talk through with my husband. It will be fun to see where this blog series goes!

  7. JoLynn says

    Sally, thank you for taking time to discuss “training of character” with us moms. My daughter is 3.5 years old and I find that she learns more from my own behavior than my words, so this will be a dual “training” so speak in our household. Very much looking forward to this series and to all of your future posts. God Bless you and your’s!

  8. Amy M says

    Sally, as always, thanks for your encouragement. This is spot on to what has been on my heart of late. However, my struggle is not with the desire to be and train in excellence, but in the how to do it.

  9. says

    WOW! You ask some tough questions! Thank you for spurring me on to be more PURPOSEFUL and intentional and not to DRAW back! I love that Hebrews verse about going forth in confidence! I think I copied it out from one of your writings…I am learning it this year as my verse!!!

  10. Debbie says

    Thank you Sally for this convicting and honest exhortation. C.S. Lewis spoke to this when he said ““It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

    ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses

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