Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Building Character: Patience

As a family, we are studying a character trait each week, and are beginning with the Fruits of the Spirit. We are just getting started, so up until now, we have talked about Love, Joyfulness, and being Peaceable.  If you want more information on the nuts and bolts of what we are doing, you can read how to get started on this post.

This week's character quality is Patience.  Patience is a hard one for kids to learn.  (Hey, it's a hard one for adults to learn!)  The best way to learn is to practice! 

PATIENCE vs. restlessness
Quietly and steadily accepting a difficult situation from God.

Romans 5:3-4 - "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope."

This passage is a challenge to explain to young children and the context of this chapter in Romans is even more difficult to explain.  This is how I talked about it:  Our family motto is "Do hard things."  Tribulations are hard things.  But God wants us to be happy about doing hard things, knowing that when we do them, it makes us stronger so that tomorrow we can do even more hard things and we can do them better than we did today.  Doing hard things every day will give us strong character.  Having strong character will help us stay focused on the hope of heaven that God gives us through Jesus.

For this week's Bible Story I chose the well-known story of Noah because I knew my children would be able to somewhat relate to the patience Noah needed to have.  They are very familiar with the story, so we did not go over it in detail, but if you would like to do so, it is found in Genesis 6-8.

We focused on the part of the story where Noah and his family were inside the ark with all of the animals for almost an entire year.  We talked about how long it felt waiting for Big Littles to go from one birthday to the next and how hard it was to be patient.  We talked about the challenges of living in a small space with so many animals making noise, needing lots of care, probably getting restless themselves.  I asked them to imagine our house as the ark and asked them what it would feel like if we were not allowed to go outside of it for an entire year - no going in the backyard to play, no driving in the car, no going to parks and playgrounds...  I could tell that the challenge of Noah's difficult situation was sinking in and that they could actually feel inside themselves how hard it would be to stay patient while waiting on God to say they could leave the ark. 
  • According to the definition, being patient means "quietly accepting" a difficult situation.  We are not being patient if we are complaining, whining, and grumbling.  
  • Talk about how Noah was rewarded for his patience.  God brought his whole family safely through onto dry land again and made a promise with a beautiful rainbow as a sign of the promise.  We can trust that God will be faithful to us, we just have to be patient and wait on the Lord.  
  • Ask for ideas of things we can do while we are patiently waiting on the Lord.  (#1 being to pray!  Also, reading God's word, serving others, etc...)
  • For further reading, discuss Psalm 27.  If your children are restless, just discuss verses 13 and 14.  These words were not written by Noah, but it does seem like he would have had similar thoughts:
"I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!"

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