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Principles from Plutarch (9) – Overcoming Misfortune

In my last message I wrote about how fear can derail our parenting. In this message I am going to write about how instilling the right mindset in our children will help them to face hardship.

In the “Life of Otho” Plutarch wrote, “For though all persons are equally subject to the caprice of fortune, yet all good men have one advantage she cannot deny, which is this, to act reasonably under misfortunes.”

There is a lot out of our control. When things are going well it is easy to hold on to the illusion of control, but as we saw this last year, things can change in a moment. Who would have predicted the closure of schools, businesses, and places of worship? Who could have foreseen how an act of police brutality in Minnesota would have convulsed the world last summer?

All of us want to give our children lives of safety. We want to give them lives of success and comfort. We want to keep them from rejection and harm. But we can’t. What we can and ought to do is to try to instill within them the strength to face and overcome the difficulties of life.

They may lose their jobs; they need not lose their wisdom or their love of learning. They may lose their health; they need not lose their faith. They may lose friends; they need not lose their righteousness.

If our children are taught that economic success, bodily health, and popularity are of paramount importance, the loss of them will in many cases be catastrophic. And whether we keep or lose these things is often outside of their and our control. But if we teach our children that faith and virtue, obedience to God and love of their neighbors, are of the utmost importance, while the loss of other things will still hurt, and will often hurt greatly, they will have the strength to endure these loses.

While I think that most of us go through multiple periods of hardship, it may be that some of our children will be exempt. Still, we must seek to inculcate this mindset in our children. Success can be more challenging than hardship! A successful and happy man or woman, untouched by the troubles of life, may find it tempting to ignore God and seek worldly happiness. We must raise our children to love things in Christ and for His glory. That way, when they obtain good things they won’t turn their hearts from Him and the loss of them will not crush them.