Building character muscle.


Living a virtuous life means

spending time in the weight room of goodness.

de tocquevilleAlexis de Tocqueville the French sociologist, visited America at the beginning of the 19th century to see what made the country distinctive.  Tocqueville discovered a population which lived life based on unwavering, religious principles.  He referred to these internal barometers as “habits of the heart.”


schoolchildren“Habits of the heart” should build children from the inside, out.  Objectives in education should state our directive: biblical teaching renews the mind, transforming character, producing living faith. Knowledge is not simply intellectual but shapes the interiority of the child. Character will be manifested in the kinds of lives children live.


booksAny knowledge, including the knowledge of right and wrong, is cemented in biblical Truth.  Guidelines help make certain decisions finds its footing in true Truth.  Objective expectations always answer why we do what we do.  Rules should be few but important, giving purpose, meaning, and reason to student thought.  Christian institutions should directly tie “the good life” to Jesus’ clear statement that we show love for God by loving others. [1]


aquinasCommunity standards shape student character.  Rules established by institutions are described as arbitrary values sustained by cultural convention accepted at the moment. Christian institutions should pledge themselves to eternal patterns.  The word virtue describes the model as “conformity to a standard of right.”  In Church history Augustine, Aquinas, and others subscribed to justice, prudence, temperance, and courage as key virtues. Virtue is infused by God with an ultimate good in sight not inflated by human pride. There is a desire to build good people with internal characteristics that will affect external relationships.[2]

An intentional life of service is the result of proper principles permanently placed in people.  Only with the help of The Holy Spirit does any believer in Jesus as Lord demonstrate their internal change.  While all people may do “good things,” motivations are an important indicator of why right actions are accomplished.  For the Christian, true Truth reveals itself in virtuous choices manifest in love for people because of love for God.  Building virtuous character in school is the pattern established for living all of life.[3]

Building children from the inside, out is based on biblical “habits of the heart.”

Dr. Mark Eckel is president of The Comenius Institute, teaching for over 30 years. He concentrates his attention now to teach the next generation of leaders and teachers.

[1] Loving God begins by belief in Jesus as the Son of God who has saved us from our sin (1 John 3:23-24).  We know the difference in another person’s life by their obedience to God’s commands (1 John 2:3-6) because of their love for God (John 14:21; 15:10) showing love and justice toward others (Luke 11:42).

[2] Virtue is based upon the righteous standard of God seen through His commands.  Since Jesus alone is righteous, only the Christian worldview can claim a supernatural regeneration dependent on Him (Acts 4:12).  The Spirit equips us for every good work (Heb 13:20-21), encouraged by community (10:24-25).

[3] There is a standard of goodness (Titus 1:8) which can be taught (2:3), modeled (2:7), and practiced (2:14; 3:1, 8, 14)—something of praiseworthy quality or measured with excellent results.


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