- Reading biographies teaches children about other countries of the world and their culture. Reading about a man like Sundar Singh will teach the reader the culture of the Indian and Tibetan people. A poor child, in particular, may never get to travel to India or Tibet, but as he reads a biography, he can learn so much about the land where the individual lived.
- Reading biographies makes learning history interesting. Who wants to study textbooks and learn about times in history by reading short paragraphs summaries about interesting events? Vicariously living in history through reading biographies is so much more exciting and memorable.
- Reading biographies provides children strong examples of good character in action. A parent or teacher can find historical figures who have displayed specific character qualities and personally choose biographies with the intent of developing character in their own child or student. If one wanted to teach their child the quality of compassion, they might choose to read the biography of Amy Carmichael. Of course, discussing the ways that Amy displayed compassion in her life will further develop the child’s awareness of compassion. Finishing by asking how they could develop this quality would help the student to personalize the quality and apply it to his life.
- Reading biographies allows children to study leadership skills of great leaders. The best way to learn leadership skills is to observe great leaders. While one cannot go back in time to study the ways of General Douglas MacArthur or George Washington, for example, but we can study the lives that they lead and the choices they made by reading biographies written about them.
- Reading biographies will grow empathy in your child’s heart. When your child reads biographies, he will be able to experience so many other situations of life that it will help him to be able to feel how other people feel in various situations. As authors write about individuals they often include thoughts the character would have been thinking, so even if your child does not willingly empathize, the author will teach them this skill.
I was talking with my 21 year old son this weekend and asked him what books he would recommend for teaching confidence. With hardly a moment’s thought he said, “Teddy Roosevelt”. I value his input, so here are two book suggestions. (That was easy enough!)
In Mornings on Horseback, you will learn much more
about Teddy’s family life and childhood.
As a young child Theodore Roosevelt had listened fascinated by stories of heroes in war. After experiencing battle himself, he was confident his father who had always been supportive would have been pleased at how his previously weak son had fought in the Spanish-American War. As a result of his principled character and determination, Teddy developed into the intriguing man your family will love to read about.
The Heroes of History biography will give you more of an overview of President Roosevelt’s life, and may spur your child on to want to study this great leader’s life in depth.
A leader without confidence will waver in his purpose. Without confidence that he is pursuing the right goals the leader will not persevere when faced with obstacles and opposition. For this reason a good Christian leader will find it imperative to follow God and be assured that his goals are aligned with God’s will. This is not a prideful confidence in one’s own ability, education, or skills. This is a humble realization that God is sovereign over all and that, in His providence, He will empower you and strengthen you to fulfill what he has called you to accomplish.
Joseph was a great example of one who was confident in God’s sovereignty. In the book of Genesis we see that Joseph’s brothers did many evil things to him all with the goal of getting him completely out of their lives. Most of us (maybe all) would have found it extremely difficult to remember that God had a plan for everything if we were sold into slavery by our own family. Would you be confident in God and His plan if you were falsely accused and thrown into jail? These and so many other formidable trials seemed to bombard Joseph. Yet in the end when Joseph is face-to-face with his brothers his statement was, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:20) Joseph showed incredible confidence in God and His control over life’s circumstances. This confidence allowed Joseph to stand out as a leader everywhere that he went – Potiphar’s house, the prison, the palace, and eventually in the plan that saved many lives.
Just imagine how Joseph’s life story would have turned out if he had not been confident that God knew what was best. He might have found a way to take his own life on the way to Egypt, after all he was going to have to be a slave to foreigners. He might not have behaved in a moral way when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. He might have just ended up dying in the prison. He certainly wouldn’t have risen to leadership again, because he wouldn’t have trusted God’s revealing of the meaning of Pharoah’s dream. All of life would have been different for Joseph, his family, the country of Egypt, many of the neighboring countries experiencing famine, and even for Joseph’s father who would have died without being reunited with the son he loved so deeply.
Joseph’s life is a prime example of why confidence in God is extremely valued in a leader. That confidence gives one something stable and unchanging on which to depend. Feelings fluctuate. Peers change. Situations overturn. Confidence in God allows leaders to be steady in their direction and care for others even when obstacles arise. Confidence must be taught and encouraged in leadership development.
We are able to teach our children to be confident for several reasons. Here are five reasons we can be confident, as obedient Christians.
- God is with us.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6“The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” Zephaniah 3:17
- He promises to fight for us.
“Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22
“The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:14
- God has good and peaceful plans for us.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”Jeremiah 29:11
- We can speak directly to God and know that He will answer with mercy and grace.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”Hebrews 4:16
- Nothing can separate us from God’s love.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38-39
This coming week on the Learning In The Home’s fb page we will be focusing on ways to teach our children (and ourselves!) the quality of Confidence. Come and share your ideas with others! Let’s learn from each other.
Today we spent some time talking about this week’s character quality, composure, the ability to remain calm in the middle of confusion and frustration. After lunch I was reading with my third grade daughter. We started this biography of George Washington Carver.
We took turns reading paragraphs in chapter one. In one of the early paragraphs my daughter came across one of this week’s spelling words. We continued reading, and in the last paragraph of chapter one, the author talked about Susan Carver trying to keep her composure as she cared for George after his mother had been kidnapped. It is just a sweet blessing in my days when this happens, and I can hardly believe how frequently it happens. Thank you, LORD!
As I have mentioned recently, I am purposefully focusing on character development in our education this year. As a result of this decision, I ordered To Every Nation by Kim Sorgius for my 7th grader to use for social studies this year. I made this choice with a little bit of hesitation, not because of the book, but because my 7th grader has bucked a bit about reading biographies in the past. Over the weekend I showed my daughter To Every Nation on the Not Consumed web site. (Here) She didn’t complain. (YAY!!!) Since there are 12 biographies to read , she will need to read 1 biography and complete the accompanying pages of To Every Nation every 3 weeks. I pointed out to my daughter that when she has completed the biography assigned for a given 3 week period, the rest of the time she can read a book of her choice until it is time to begin a new biography. My daughter did ask if she could just read all 12 biographies and To Every Nation back-to-back and then read other books the rest of the year. I find that agreeable, so we made that change of plans.
Monday morning, she began reading the biography of Hudson Taylor. Two times she has brought up to me specifics about Hudson Taylor that she didn’t understand or agree with, and she did ask if she had to finish the book. I reminded her that she doesn’t have to agree with every decision Hudson Taylor made, but to finish the book and see how God used that choice in his life or ministry. Thankfully she continued on without much complaint.
On Tuesday, To Every Nation arrived, and my 7th grader commented that she liked the book. (This is good.) She even commented that she likes the feel of the cover. 🙂 I spent some time looking through the entire book, and I was so glad to see specific character qualities being highlighted for each of the 12 missionaries studied. These qualities each have a special focus – endurance, virtue, honor, forgiveness, faith, sacrifice, focus, perseverance, service, compassion, patience, and contentment. What needed topics to cover with our children!
For each Christian Hero biography that is read, Kim has a 2 page biographical sketch, 2 pages regarding the country where the individual served and their ministry, a timeline page, a page spotlighting the quality being studied (including personal application!!), and copywork of a verse that fits the quality focused on. This makes 8 pages each for the 12 individuals being studied. I am praying that the LORD will use the study of these missionaries and our God to help my daughter grow and develop her character.
At the conclusion of this class, I plan to post a follow-up post with my daughter’s and my feedback about this class. Stay tuned!
*The only textbooks / curriculum I will promote on my blog are what I am willing to use, am using, or have already used in our home. I will include an affiliate link if I am an affiliate.