Memory Monday: Achievement vs. Character (1 Samuel 16:7)

God looks at our hearts, not our achievements, so this week, Everyday Truth will look at building our kids' character. Today is an overview of character. Tuesday, we'll look at teaching our kids to respect others. Wednesday, we'll talk about compassion, and Thursday, we'll look at kindness. On Friday, I'll have some resources that will help you teach your kids character. We had parent-teacher conferences this past week. My girls' conferences are typically pretty boring with no big issues to discuss. We have one kid who's struggling a bit with the change in math curriculum but overall, we got positive reports.

The best part of the parent-teacher conferences, though, was a simple comment made by both girls' teachers. Both teachers told us our girls were extremely respectful, both of the teachers and of their peers.

You see, there's really not much I can do about my kids' ability to do well in school. I can help them study. I can make sure they have all the tools they need to succeed, but I can't make my kids any smarter than they are. I can't make them better spellers or give them a better math sense.

What I can do is teach my kids to have character. I can teach them to be respectful of others. I can teach them to be kind. I can teach them to be compassionate.

These are the things that matter in the long run. We told our girls we were happy that their grades were good, but we were much more excited about the fact that both their teachers were impressed enough with their respectfulness that they mentioned it during their conferences.

We told our girls that while we're proud of their grades, those grades are just a reflection of how well they've memorized or understood something. When a teacher comments on how you act toward others, it's a reflection of who you are inside. And that's way more important than how you scored on a test.

Society puts a huge emphasis on achievement, and there's nothing wrong with aiming for high achievement, but a grade on a report card says nothing about your character. You can be a horrible person and still get an "A" in math.

God gives us gifts and abilities, and He wants us to use them, but He's most concerned with the attitude of our heart. Achievement isn't a bad thing; it's just not the most important thing.

1 Samuel 16:7 says "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'"

God chose David to be king, despite the fact that he was a lowly shepherd and the youngest son. These were not outward trappings of achievement. Yet God saw something in David's heart that made Him choose David. It was David's character, not his achievement that made God able to use Him.

We want our kids to have character that shines. That starts at home. We can teach respect, kindness and compassion to our kids from the time they are little. It's those qualities that will make them open to being used by God.