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Words of wisdom from Xenophon

Xenophon was a Greek soldier and writer who has handed down a few gems worth mentioning. This one in particular is resonating with me this week:

The true test of a leader is whether his followers will adhere to his cause from their own volition, enduring the most arduous hardships without being forced to do so, and remaining steadfast in the moments of greatest peril.

It's challenging me to think long and hard on my parenting goals. I have a junior in high school. He is preparing to leave the nest and I want peace and assurance that he is ready to walk out beyond the wild wood with his head high and his footing sure.

He is a great guy and shows no hint of disrespect or disagreement with our family's values. But will they be his values? They are right now, and I have no doubt that he firmly believes that to be true, but will they be his when trials come? When temptations come? When there is no parent beside him to to force him to make healthy decisions? As a parent, how can we know?

This is where another Xenophon quote comes in:

Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.

I have learned the tricks to getting them to comply with moral guidelines. My children know how to live "good" lives. It is easy to get comfortable and rest on those familiar tactics, nudging them into line, maintaining the clearly understood expectations for their behaviour. Good behaviour and moral living are not my goals. My goal is to have their hearts captured by Grace.

When relying on behaviour modification parenting techniques, it's easy to overlook what their heart is saying underneath it all. They obey with their words and even their tone, but where are their hearts?

My goal is their heart. Accuracy is everything. How is my aim?


  1. So close to home...."to have their hearts captured by Grace", amen and amen.

    1. Which reminds me that this needs a major rewrite. I have to start remembering to wait a week before posting so I can edit it ten times before anyone reads it. I forget people read these sometimes!

      The wording now implies we have control over where their hearts go. We have influence, obviously, but not control. This is a confusing area for me and I'm not sure how to word an edit to get this point across.


"Man lives by affirmation even more than by bread." - Victor Hugo