As Head of a school, I used to love the first week of the new year. Not only did everyone have their new shoes, uniforms, bows and lunch boxes, they were literally bouncing with excitement as they wandered the hallways.
But if you stopped by the classrooms, especially the younger kids’ rooms, you got to see a society being developed right before your eyes. Each teacher laid out their expectations so clearly. They had the kids memorize the simple rules for their class and then the teacher would begin to reinforce his or her expectations.
Relentlessly they would repeat their “rules”: “We line up over there. We raise our hand before we speak. We keep our hands and arms to ourselves. We are kind to our neighbor and share at lunch.” And on it went.
By the second week, those sweet kids were beginning to get the idea. They understood that someone besides themselves was in charge. They were willing to exercise some self-control because it was consistently expected of them. And of course, everyone loves hearing their teacher affirm their choices and behavior.
I couldn’t help but think of the power of self-control last week as I watched the assault on our nation’s Capitol. Regardless of the political implications, what we saw was a segment of our society functioning with absolutely no self-control. And it was scary.
Self-control is important for young school children, but it is also critical for teenagers, young adults and everyone else in society. It is the bedrock of our personal character. And we can’t build a meaningful school, family, church, company or nation without it.
Perhaps that’s why self-control is listed as one of the aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22-23. When a believer allows God’s Spirit to control their attitudes and behavior, they are building their own character and constructing the scaffolding needed in all our communities.
So this week, moms and dads….be encouraged. All that time you commit to developing good moral character in your children is worth it. Self-control isn’t just the ability to have good manners. It is the character needed to reign ourselves in and build a meaningful life.
Leaders of companies, supervisors at work and team leaders… be encouraged. Every guideline at your place of business that encourages self-control will ultimately help build a safer and more productive society.
Remember, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (II Tim. 1:7). Telling ourselves, “no!” every now and again is a good thing!