“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.” C.S. Lewis in Screwtape Letters
A few years ago, John Stonestreet (of the Chuck Colson Center and Summit Ministries) shared with our faculty. As John helped us better understand biblical worldview, he landed on the importance of courage in the lives of our children: “Dreams do not determine destiny; decisions determine destiny.” It is courage that moves dreams and beliefs to decisions and action.
Here are some of Stonestreet’s comments:
- Being human means to be courageous, not just know truth but courageous to use it.
- To raise children to make right decisions and not just know the truth requires courage: “It is by his deeds that a lad makes himself known if his conduct is pure and right” (Proverbs 20:11).
- In the classic virtues, courage allowed the others to exist.
- Children want to be courageous and we offer them video games.
- A biblical worldview makes the right decision when in a tough spot, which takes courage.
- A biblical worldview is not just thought out but is lived out.
- A biblical worldview is not primarily expressed but embodied.
How do we create courage? Stonestreet suggests:
- Be aware that everything we do is forming children’s souls; all education is worldview shaping.
- Teach habits. He quotes Aristotle: “So it is a matter of no little importance what sort of habits we form from the earliest age–it makes a vast difference, or rather all the difference in the world.”
- Shift from entitlement to responsibility.
- Teach children to leave things better than they found them.
- Give children words to use in tough moments.
From the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, John explained how we can create courage in our children. In Dawn Treader, Eustace is a boy with no “chest,” a boy who has not trained his emotions and is a victim of his feelings. He knows about ships but has never been on one. He has never been taught about dragons!
Stonestreet says that children should know two things about dragons: 1. They exist. 2. They can be beaten.
In Dawn Treader, help comes from an unlikely source. Reepicheep, the mouse, has courage. He mentors Eustace. He helps Eustace by stripping away the dragon flesh and shows that Eustace has grown a chest. We need to mentor our children to defeat dragons. And, celebrate their courage.
Stonestreet says that our children must:
1. Know what is true and good (not just right from wrong).
2. Practice what is true and good (weight lifters don’t get strong without the practice of lifting weights).
3. Learn and practice repentance, a way to actively follow Jesus with courage instead of being passive.
We need to teach our children how to defeat dragons. We need to put them on boats and teach courage so they can put ideas into action. Thanks to John for his thoughts.