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Character Matters
November 2011
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Character Trait – Initiative:
Check It Out. – What Does It Matter? – How Does it Count?
by Lori Coeman
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Time in a Bottle
“If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do...” These first two lines of an “oldies” song by Jim Croce are intriguing. If only we could bottle time and then release it when we most need it. Time, that most precious of commodities, is one of the greatest pressure points for homeschoolers. And one of the greatest assets we have – time with our children.

No matter how often we hear veteran homeschoolers tell us to savor the time we have with our children because the years go by so quickly, we somehow still get caught up in the time pressures of “covering all the material” and “getting it all done.”

While talking with many homeschoolers feeling pressed for time, I have noticed a peculiar twist. Much of their busyness results from procrastination. As strange as that sounds, here’s what I have observed. Being so busy with so many activities that none of them get done to the level of quality we desire results from not taking the time to think through how we want to spend our time.

Using time is a value judgment. Time is limited and whenever you have a limited resource, it should hold more value. By making the decision to value time with our children rather than sending them off to another location, to spend time with people we don’t really know very well, we are agreeing with God that our children are a precious gift. Homeschooling offers us a way to be wise stewards of the time He has given us with these gifts.

The word initiative has its roots in the idea of entering into an agreement. We join forces with God to train up our children. We enter into a covenant relationship of sorts with the Creator to take the time to figure out the best way to raise our children.

The word procrastinate means the opposite. It means to put forward, to decide something belongs to the morrow – the tomorrow that never comes because it is always in the future instead of today. In His great Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spent a good portion of it dealing with how we spend time with God and with the cares of this world. This portion is recorded in chapter 6 of Matthew and includes the Lord’s Model Prayer and the commandment to seek first God’s kingdom. It ends with the principle to “take no thought for the morrow” because God will take care of that in due time.

As valuable as time is with our children, it doesn’t take long for us to recognize that we can’t do it all. The problem is that when we can’t, we become so overwhelmed that we don’t deal with sorting out what we should and shouldn’t do. We procrastinate instead of initiate.

In their book entitled, The Time Crunch — What to Do When You Can’t Do It All, the authors (Greg Asimakoupoulos, John Maxwell, and Steve McKinley) deal with this procrastination twist. They identify four causes and four results of procrastination.
Causes:
     1.  Poor self-confidence
     2.  Lack of problem-solving skills
     3.  Distaste of certain tasks
     4.  Being overly subject to emotions and feelings
Results:
     1.  Loss of productivity
     2.  Squandering of opportunities
     3.  Loss of momentum
     4.  Loss of self-respect

Fortunately, the authors also identify four steps that can help us avoid procrastination.
     1.  Develop accountability.
     2.  Develop a problem-solving mindset that breaks big tasks into smaller steps.
     3.  Let small gains build confidence.
     4.  Learn from others.

Whew, there’s a lot in that. Enough for several months’ worth of articles. But instead of sharing one person’s perspective, I’d like to ask you to share your thoughts with us on any one of these points. You can use the Contact Us button to send your comments and experiences so that we can learn from one another and encourage one another to be responsible stewards of the opportunity we have as homeschoolers to spend time with our children. Let’s make time an asset and not a pressure point.
678 words
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