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Michael Pearl: Nature of the Child (NGJ Shindig 2013)

By Michael Pearl

Michael Pearl discusses child training techniques, specifically about the nature of children, at the Great Ozark Mountain Shindig in Missouri, September 12-15, 2013.

You can also watch the video version.

Transcription (unedited)

Michael Pearl:  Alright. Let’s get back into our subject here, of the nature of the child.

Now, I know that there are other things I could do that would be more entertaining and more fun than this. I was reluctant to do it because I know it’s kind of academic and doctrinal and boring. But, it is really a vital subject. Not just for child training, but in application to you men and women and the struggle you have over sin, doing your duty, your laziness, your slothfulness, following the flesh. This has applications to you, to understand yourself.

So, we’re going to talk about the conscience. Now you remember my diagram of bodies sold, and spirit, mind, will, and emotions. The conscience was not on there. The reason it was not is because the conscience is not an entity. It’s not a faculty. It’s not some part of the soul. It’s not something that dwells somewhere in the body, like the will is to the mind or the emotions is to the mind.

In fact, the conscience is nothing more than a word we use to speak of being conscious. Being self‑aware. Being aware of self, in terms of how self is relating to everything that’s around it and to the self‑imposed government within. Each of us has our own self‑imposed rules. We’re influenced by “The Bible,” by community, and culture, but we all adopt some standards or some rules.

Even an atheist has those rules, a homosexual has those rules, and people in the prison. They all have their conscience, their standards. The conscience can be seared with a hot iron. “The Bible” says, that is it can be so wounded and scarred and abused that it becomes less sensitive. All that’s happened there is that the mind, emotions, will, and soul has yielded to the body, so the body has taken precedence and control and dulled the voice that’s within.

So, the outer man becomes the ruler and the inner man becomes dwarfed or diminished. Conscience is the mind knowing itself.

It is self‑evaluation. As the nervous system is active relating the conditions of the flesh…that is it’s hot, it’s cold, it smells good, it smells bad…in regard to pain and pleasure, so the spirit of man is active, relating the quality of performance in regard to right and wrong.

This is one of the proofs, I believe, of our creation by God and of the existence of God. There is no way to account for man’s drive towards righteousness, appreciation of it, and his guilt towards sin except that it’s something innate placed within him by his creator.

Society cannot explain it. The rules of society cannot explain it, which the atheists would say is the case. They say that our good and evil, or moral, is nothing more than our perception of how we should act within the community so as to gain the greatest amount of pleasure.

That’s not true for this reason that everyone in the community has passions and drives, things they’d like to do, but they hold down because of some higher law that’s inside. When the needs of the body are ignored, the body ceases to be in balance. Sickness, disease, nervousness, lack of sleep, heart trouble.

Different things take place when the body ceases to be in balance. When the needs of the soul are ignored, the person loses his balance.

I would say to you that this is the true beginning of psychology, of psychiatry. They tend to think that their genetic reasons are some early life experiences that we’re not conscious of influencing us.

I know that when people have emotional problems, when they are nuts, when they’re taking Prozac or Ritalin to control their behavior, when they’re having to go to therapy it’s because they are right now at that time in their life treating their soul with disregard.

They’re ignoring the needs of the soul, yielding to the needs of the body, and the flesh is lusting against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. There’s that struggle within.

They’re seeking to find balance, but they can’t because there is constant self‑condemnation. The physical right and wrong is not a moral issue. Right and wrong in the soul reflects on one’s self‑worth.

Children, teenagers that cut themselves, people that commit suicide, overdose on drugs. Most alcoholism, most excessive drug use, when it becomes a chronic habit. It all based on a fact that a person has a poor self‑image. A poor self‑worth. They’re attacking their own person with these things. It is a form of self‑punishment.

I remember one time one of my daughters did something she wasn’t supposed to do. Maybe a year and a half old, two years old, something like that. I turned to rebuke her and she felt that a spanking was coming.

She felt it was deserved and that I was in a frame of mind to give her one. She immediately turned around, stuck her little rear end out and gives herself four or five real hard licks like this, which was an offering to me. To say “OK now you see I’ve suffered my chastisement. It’s OK now. You can cool off.”

Suicide is that very thing. One cutting themselves is that very thing. It is self hating self and punishing self because of the evaluation of who self is. Other people’s evaluation enters into that. In the final analysis it’s what you’re thinking about yourself, regardless of how you were influenced to think that way. It’s what you’re thinking about yourself that creates that.

Children can enter into poor self‑image very early by the way they see themselves in your eyes. Nature teaches us that sometimes there are things that bring immediate pleasure but long‑range negative consequences. Like eating poison mushrooms.

Every spring and summer we go out and collect mushrooms. Shawna knows more about it than we do, so we take her along to show us which mushrooms are edible and which ones aren’t. About a month ago she grabbed up something that didn’t look edible to me. It looked like the cow threw it up. It didn’t have a mushroom shape. It looked like wet cardboard kind of bunched up.

She knew what it was, identified it and took it home to eat it and said, “Would you like to take some with you”? I said, “No, I’m going to wait three or four days to see what happens to your family.” Eating poison mushrooms is a way to discover whether or not they’re good or they’re bad. It can be a fatal experiment.

I’ve often wondered, over the period of history, how people came to understand that that plant right there will cure stomach trouble. That one will give you diarrhea and this one right here will make you nuts. It will drive you crazy insane. This mushroom’s poison, that one isn’t.

Somewhere along the line, enough people out of a small village or community of people had to eat the wrong mushroom and die from it, or suffer brain damage before they figured it out. That’s the way we learn physically.

Our children will learn morally the same way. The problem is they might become addicted to poison mushrooms and end up smoking them or cooking them down and getting high on them before they come to the realization that’s something they shouldn’t do.

In some cases the consequences are so dire. The choices we make in the physical realm that we must take the word of others as to the danger of certain options. That’s why we always in our house had a shotgun in the corner in the living room. Sitting there where all the children could reach and play around it.

It was one I bought for four dollars that wouldn’t shoot. It had a broken firing pin. Of course it never got shot. It sat there in the corner and the kids didn’t know it couldn’t shoot. They saw plenty of shotguns that could shoot.

It was there as a way to tempt them and to cause them to develop a respect for weapons. I think one child touched it one time and got a swift spanking on the back of the hand.

The other children never touched it. It assured me that when they go into a house where someone else has a loaded gun. That they are not going to touch it. In some cases the consequences are so dire that we must take the words of others as to the danger of certain options.

The bottom line is that there must be a final board to make judgments on the preferences of the body and of the mind. That board would default to my own brain but children don’t have the reservoir of knowledge and experience to make wise physical choices.

We make those choices for them and impose our choices upon them when they are very young. As they get older, we start letting the rope out a little bit and allowing them to experiment and make some choices that are going to sting or hurt or bite.

The other day one of the kids picked up a cat and was abusing. I said Boy, he’ll come and scratch you, leave him alone, and he’s going to learn right now. So sure enough, the cat taught him a lesson. If he was a Bob cat, I wouldn’t allow that to happen. A mountain lion, a rattle snake, but with a garden snake, leave that kid alone, let him find out that the snake is going to bite him.

I’ve been bitten 50 times by chicken snakes and garden snakes and water snakes and every kind of snakes there is because I used to show off how quick I was with my hands and a few times I wasn’t that quick, especially little later when I got a little older.

The body and the sensibilities must be governed. We govern the child’s body and the sensibilities. We’ve been telling him how to feel, we’ve been regulating how he should feel and we instruct him in how to think, we are guiding him, trying to steer him into the field of knowledge that we’ve accumulated so that he can walk a path safely.

The final governing board will by default be the flesh in a child or with effort, great effort, constant attention, it will be the intellect relying upon the will to deny immediate gratification for calling one considers higher than pleasure. That’s a mouthful. That’s a very key principle.

Men, women, those of you struggling with sin or personal problems, the final governing board in your life will by default be the flesh. If you just kick back and do what you feel like doing it will be fleshly or with effort, it will be the intellect relying upon the will to deny immediate gratification.

This is not gospel I am giving you. This is not the Bible way of deliverance from sin. I’m going back to basic human nature that’s true whether you’re Christian or whether you’re not. These are the principles by which the human soul and body work and relate.

The gospel invades this system with a miracle, a miracle that can bring cure, healing and deliverance, where you and I cannot naturally work it out. But most of you are not really relying upon the power of the Holy Ghost sanctification to walk in righteousness and you’re making excuses.

The reason I’m doing this, I’m going back to natural revelation, natural understanding, glow fad humanism, to explain to you why you’re, why you think the way you do and why you function the way you do.

My thoughts are that if you can understand yourself, that it will rob you of your present excuses before God. It will divest you of these excuses that you’ve made over and over again and overlook the things taking place in yourself, thinking it’s natural, it’s normal. It is natural but it’s not right and it’s not normal, may be average but not the normal.

The final governing board with effort will be the intellect relying upon the wildernet to deny immediate gratification for calling one considers higher than pleasure. Do you have a value that’s higher than pleasure?

I know I have driven around this community here, this city we have and I can see that there is a prevailing preference for righteousness. There’s a prevailing preference for that which is good and wholesome and holy and it’s a beautiful thing to see.

I am not food and I know you’re not either. I know that lurking in the heart of everyone of us is darkness and evil. I know that the capability of evil things taking place, are among us.

In fact, in a group this size, even though we are home skillets and love the Lord and walk in righteousness, I know that among a group this size, there’s a at least a dozen [indecipherable 15:24] . I know that there’s at least 25, 30, 40 adulteress, in a group this size.

I know that there’re several closet homosexuals in a group this size or lesbians. You see sin pop up once in a while in the church. Some of you will say, how does that happen, it’s been happening for years, no one knew it.

I’m telling you, it’s happening here now in this group but because of the prevailing preference for righteousness, with groups like this even at home and in your church, you conform to the norm, the Christian norm because that’s the avenue of greatest pleasure for you.

You value your reputation; you value your family so you can seal what is really in your heart, in your body. You can seal your enslavement, your addiction, your crime, but one day you can seal it no longer. I’ve been responsible, my wife and I, for quite a number of people going to jail.

A woman writes to me and says my husband, I found out was abusing my daughter. What should I do and we tell her how to gather evidence, how to protect herself from the law and how to convict him and have him to go to jail for 20 years.

Women have written back and joyously celebrated the fact that their husband is in jail, they get no bomb of money to take care of them. Their children are no longer molested, she is writing to him, he has repented in the jail, the prison and she goes to see him once a month and she is going to wait on him to get out, by that time the children will be grown and she will receive him back when his time in the prison is done. We celebrate our great victories in Christ that we were able to have that man put in jail.

Another woman wrote and said her husband was stealing from trucks and cars that ropes at truck stops and took her son along. We helped her, they arranged the situation, the cops caught him, saw him and I witnessed evidence and got him put in jail.

Now if someone writes and says “Your husband is doing pot,” I’ll say, “It’s not my concern.” Drinking a little too much, I’ll tell them how to deal with it and overcome it, but you don’t involve the law, and stuff like that.

But, if your husband is a big‑time dealer of cracker cocaine, then I’m going to tell you how to put him away. There are some of you here, right now, that one day your wife will write, probably at this event right here, when she’s heard this, so you’d better grab her and get out of here in a hurry.

She’s going to say, “What you said was true,” and she’s going to tell. We’re going to talk with her a few times. We’re going to find out if she’s over exaggerating ‑‑ sometimes women do. We may have to talk to a pastor, some other friends, or something, but then we’re going to give our advice, and we’re going to calm down on the sight of righteousness and truth.

If you’ve met with kids, and we can’t get to you first, then the law is going to deal with you. We have at home a little kid that we use on the calves and the pigs. They take care of that kind of problem.


Michael:  But the law doesn’t want us to use it that way, so we defer to their judgment in those matters. I hope I didn’t put anything in the wife’s mind. I’d hate to see a man trying to stay awake forever. The struggle between the outer man and the inner man and the intellect is the final board of decision.

Struggle between the outer man. I said body of flesh that you’ve addicted to pornography, to adultery, to homosexuality, to food, to alcohol, to drugs. The struggle between the outer man and the inner man, the intellect is the final board of decision. The intellect I’m speaking of is nothing more than that part of us that reasons, that thinks, that reflects upon self, that takes in information and evaluates it.

There are two kinds of values in life: pleasure, either physical or mental ‑‑ atheists have mental pleasure, college professors have mental pleasure, people of pride have mental pleasure, people in higher education have mental pleasure. Everyone experiences as an adult pleasure in thoughts, in logic, in reason, in study of history, and different things. It brings great sense of pleasure.

Then, the second kind of value, besides physical and mental pleasure, is principle. I feel good living by principle. Sometimes I have to deny my flesh, and that doesn’t immediately feel good, but knowing that you’re doing the right thing is the most exhilarating, clean, free feeling you can have in the world.

There’s great pleasure in being good. Some of you may not know that pleasure anymore. I’ll tell you, it’s worth finding it. The pleasure in not being afraid of God or man, of having a clear conscience toward God or man, is a wonderful thing. That clear conscience is based on the present, not the past, unless you’re concealing the past out of a selfish desire to return to it.

But, if you have repented of the past, and, in the present, you have a commitment to righteousness, and you see yourself overcoming sin, there is no greater pleasure than that. There is no greater reward than that. That builds self‑esteem, self‑image. Psychologists would tell us that the way to build your self‑esteem is to accept the fact that you are like everyone else in your faults.

You just accept your faults and your guilt, and you learn to adjust to it and live it with it without consequences. That’s an impossible task. That’s why you keep paying the therapist week after week, month after month, year after year. Humans are two parts. One part is born, the other part is acquired. We’ve discussed that.

One’s disposition is what decides what you’ll do and what you won’t do. Disposition is the determination of how you are going to live. Implications go far beyond the child. One is disposed to act in ways that satisfy his greatest values. The Bible says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,” for out of the heart proceeds the issues of life.

In other words, what your mind is, what your heart is, what your thoughts are, where your dreams are, where you imagine pleasure, that is the place from whence is going to come the decisions of life. There’s in all of us a conflict of pleasure, that is, we cling to the pleasure of being righteous, of being perceived as right, and being part of a wholesome community.

At the same time, there’s the pleasure of sin. Most people try to balance the two so that they don’t lose their people’s appreciation and respect for them. But, sometimes, the flesh gets too strong and people lose respect for you, you lose respect for yourself, and then it’s a downhill slide from there.

I’ve heard young girls say, “I’ve already given it away. What difference does it matter if it’s the fifth guy, sixth guy, or seventh, or a one‑night stand?” She’s lost her self‑respect, and now she’s disposed to act in ways that satisfy her greatest values, which, in the beginning, her greatest value was to be loved, and she thought sex was the way to find that love.

As a child or a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. As she thinks, so she is. As your child, at three years old, thinks, so he is. You’re the one that takes that learned part ‑‑ remember they’ve come into the world with a human nature, and, after that, it’s learned. The part that you’ve allowed them to believe about themselves, that’s what’s made your child the way they are.

It’s not something genetic. That part is learned, and they learned it on your watch. Every action requires commitment to spend the resources necessary. If you want your glass of ice tea filled, you have to get up and go fill it ‑‑ except, in my house, I just rattle the ice like this, and somehow it automatically gets filled.

If you want the grass cut, you’ve got to go outside and crank up the lawn mower, find that it won’t run, the blade’s dull, the belt on it is frayed or broken, and you’ve got to fix it, repair it, and go to all the effort. Then you’ve got to cut the grass, and then you have pleasure in the fact that the grass looks good and it’s cut, and your wife is not nagging you anymore.

You have to make sacrifices whenever you make a decision. So does a child, and they need to learn that early. Some actions are more painful than others. The path of least resistance is the most attractive. The human battle of the ages is the judgment part of the mind, conscience, struggling against the mind, already disposed to follow the dictates of the flesh.

How does the mind get disposed to follow the dictates of the flesh? In a child, it takes place when they’re allowed a dispensation of indulgence, that is, when you ignore the six‑month old, the one‑year old, the one‑and‑a‑half, the two‑year old’s self‑indulgence, demands, just satisfying the flesh.

When you allow a runaway experience, that you allow them to cry and whine and get their way, then you’re creating this pattern of the child yielding the flesh, and ignoring the conscience in terms of dictating right and wrong. The battle of the ages is the judgment part of the mind, struggling against the mind already disposed to follow the dictates of the flesh.

“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh,” the Bible says. That is, in the flesh, there is a competition, a desire to take control of the spirit. The flesh lusts against this. The flesh wants the place of the spirit. And the spirit lusts against the flesh.

The spirit wants to dominate and take charge of the flesh. There is these two minds of a sort within us. There are these two propensities within us. One is high, right, and moral, and the other one is base, natural, carnal, fleshly, like an animal has. Not evil, just fleshly, just indulgent, just all that a child is born with.

There’s nothing sinful about desire or passion, nothing sinful about wanting food or having the need for sexual intimacy. There’s nothing sinful about anger in itself ‑‑ Jesus was angry ‑‑ nothing sinful about a number of things that, when allowed to run away and take charge and control, when allowed to lust against the mind and take charge of it, those things then become excesses and become sinful.

Experts tell us that a child should be allowed to express himself without judgments being made. That’s the way they try to deal with the guilt part. Not by causing the child to rise above the weaknesses of the flesh, but to just let the flesh take charge and then abolish the laws that say that’s wrong.

What the experts have not come to realize, because they deny the uniqueness of the human soul, is that in doesn’t matter how you change the rules without and who fails to judge, that child has a resident divine judge that is condemning evil, anger, disrespect, and indulgence. That child will grow up with this self‑accusation, this conscience, constantly grieve no matter what the psychologists or the psychiatrists or the progressive parents do to try to normalize their behavior by failing to bring judgment on it.

They say we should allow free expression. I hear a lot about, “Well, that’s your truth.” What is truth? That’s an old question. Some will say, “Well, there’s your truth and there’s my truth.” There is no your truth or my truth. Self‑expression is limited when eating wild plants and swimming with alligators.

You say, “Don’t swim with those alligators. They’re known to attack and eat people.” “Well, that’s your truth. My truth is, I believe that God made everything, and all the animals are part of nature, and if we’re just loving, receptive, and kind, that they will not bother us at all…”

He’s dinner for alligator. Alligator loves that philosophy, loves to eat little bitty skinny, earring, nipple ring, hippies. There are certain truths that you’ve got to observe. It doesn’t matter what you think about them. Self‑expression is limited when eating wild plants and swimming with alligators. To assume that expression is an option is to legitimize the feelings, or at least to assume that the feeling is not controllable.

When you allow your child self‑expressions, she starts throwing a little fit and you say just let her do it, that’s the way she’s expressing herself, then you’re normalizing that. In the end, you’re making that child a victim of those feelings, or you make yourself a victim. Teach children to practice self‑discipline, not self‑expression.

You have no control over the nature of your feelings, whether you love or hate. Nathan talked about that last night. You do have control over the intensity by passing judgment on the worthiness of those feelings. I’ve worked in prisons all my life and I’ve had prisoners say to me I just discovered one day when I was 19 years old that I have a preference for the same sex and so that’s why I am the way I am. God made me this way.

If I question them I will find out that there was an uncle in their life at 12 years old or that there was a group of boys when they went through puberty that they had some experiences together or they got into pornography or any number of things but there’s always a trail where you can see that life brought them to that, not nature.

These people have said to me, “That’s just who I am. That’s the way I am.” Here’s what I say to them. When I got married I was 25 years old. I was a virgin. I never had experiences with a woman. By the time I was eight years old I wanted to. Every girl I saw smelled good. When I turned 13 that lit a fire that I thought the devil had gotten a hold of me.

There was nothing greater and bigger in life than females. Their bodies were wonderful beyond belief. I was about ready to sacrifice my soul for one of them. You say that’s your 13‑year‑old, just keeping it quiet, they’re embarrassed about it. That’s your 14‑year‑old. You just don’t know it but it’s there.

I had girlfriends by the time I was 16 years old and I had time alone with them and 17 and 18 and 19. I very quickly made some personal rules. I said don’t kiss them, don’t touch them because hand‑holding set me off. Hand‑holding would light my fire. In fact, just brushing up against their elbow, I had to be careful I didn’t walk behind them down wind. Smelling them did something for me. Men, are you with me?

I made some rules. I made some very strong, personal rules. I was denying what God created me to be. Do you realize that? I was saying no to what God had naturally created in my body. I continued to say no until I was married. How could I do that? Because principle was higher than pleasure, because truth was greater than my passions and self‑drives, because I was regulated by my mind, which held values that were contrary to my body’s values. I also had the spirit of God which enforced by human spirit so that I was able to exercise my will against the passions of the body.

Let’s go back to the queers. The queer says God made him that way. Yeah, OK, I’ll buy that for a moment for the sake of argument. God also told you not to do it. You say but that’s who I am. A sexual being is who I am, too, and God told me how to exercise it and not. If you yield to the will of God and believe the word of God then you have power, as a queer, to not do anything queer. If you don’t do anything queer then you’re not queer.

A thought that you reject is not sin. A desire that you put down does not become sin. The Bible says, “When lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin.” Until lust conceives with opportunity and action takes place, there is no sin. There is no excuse for deviant behavior, saying that God created you that way. God created you with a natural body of passions.

If somehow life has bent and twisted your passion so you prefer a battery power tool or the same sex or something else twisted and warped then that’s something you created in time in your own experience or allowed to be created in you by media or something you took in and you are still responsible before God to do what you ought to do, regardless of how you feel.

Sabotaging your child with the belief that he’s a victim, you sabotage yourself with the belief that you’re a victim. That’s what the queers have done. The making of a victim is when you say to your child he’s not old enough, she can’t do that, he doesn’t understand, he’s a nervous child, his daddy doesn’t give him enough attention. That’s the reason he is how he is. She can’t help it. He has HADDS or any other number of letters. He’s just strong‑willed.

What you’re doing is allowing your child to be a victim of his passions, or you’re allowing yourself when you make those excuses. You say I just have a thyroid problem, that’s the reason I eat so much sweets. That’s the reason I like cake and cookies, I’ve got this thyroid problem. That’s the reason I’m blown up like this. I’ve got a thyroid problem. I know thyroid problems can create a propensity, but it takes calories to put on fat. You’ve got to eat the calories. Nobody’s putting them in your mouth.

You say the way I was raised, the way my momma fed me. I did it. You can do it. I deny myself, you can deny yourself. It just takes stop being a liar and face who and what you are. If you allow the child to consider himself a victim he’ll not seek to control his temperament by force of his inner man. Parents must impart to the children the conviction that they can do whatever they ought to do regardless of how they feel. If the child is led to believe that he’s a victim of his feelings he will be a victim of his feelings.

There must be a will to bear discomfort for the sake of principle. People don’t like effort. French philosopher said, “All work is pain,” and it is. Understanding alone will not help. That is, going to a psychologist, psychiatrist, and gathering an understanding of why you function the way you do or listening to me and gathering an understanding of why you function the way you do or instructing your child. Understanding itself will not help. A child must undergo training, not get it explained to him.

So it is, you must undergo discipline, not just settle for an explanation. The will cannot change feelings and impulses of the flesh. Nathan talked about that last night. It can refuse to lend cooperation of any other faculty to the impulse, discovering boundaries. We talked about how children discover boundaries by bumping into them.

Two children playing together, one of them takes something from the other one, the other one knows that’s not right. They start fighting over it so one of them learns, for the sake of peace, to resist the desire to posses something that belongs to another. Selfishness of a child causes her to recognize boundaries.

Society teaches one how to limit our postponed gratification in order to experience the most gratification. That’s what happens to adults. That’s why a lot of the crazy behavior of children doesn’t follow people into adulthood. It’s not that they don’t still have the same impulses and drives, it’s that society has taught them to curb those because there’s a greater amount of pleasure achieved in society by not having everybody look at you like you’re a dork or something.

You practice some form of self‑denial, though it’s not in your heart. It’s in your brain that says this is the way to get the greatest respect in life. Self‑control is in their self‑interest. Nobody was born with a sense of courtesy. That’s not nature. That’s culture. Our culture is that society in which we live and the way we learn to relate to it respectfully, honoring other people’s limits and their boundaries.

Nobody is born with honesty. That must be acquired through training. All children are liars. It’s a matter of whether they become a habit or not. Children without responsibility become selfish rebels. They grow up to be totally out of control. Some of you teenagers right now or 9 or 10 year olds, you’re a selfish rebel. That picture is you. Look at it. You see yourself right there. That’s you.

You know why you’re like that? Because, you live to please yourself. You will not take your parents’ teaching or instruction because you want to go your own way. I’ll visit you in a prison some day. No, I probably won’t live long enough. There probably won’t be anybody that wants to come see you. Our first impulse is to be discourteous, like I just was.

If anyone controls the inner impulse to be discourteous he displays culture. I admit I am very short patient with people. I expect people to do what they ought to do. If they don’t, I’ve just got to sweep them aside. I’m a dutiful person. When people don’t do their duty, I can dismiss them pretty quick. Our first impulse is to be discourteous.

I think I’m pretty courteous to people, check out people when we go to eat out and stuff like that. I think I’m very, very courteous to them. Some people don’t treat me right, they don’t do their job right, then I can be discourteous, just like you can.

The average parent of today, encouraged by popular philosophies and psychologies gives the youngest ample freedom to express their individual wants, and to ignore the needs of the group and group discipline. I’ve gone to mothers or my wife has and said your child is being mean to the other children. Oh no, my child would never do that. Your child is a liar. No, my child would never lie. I’ve watched those children grow up and carry those faults with them into their adult life, because their parents ignored those things in their life.

Time was when a will to effort was systematically cultivated in homes and schools. On farms, stores, factories men and women were trained routinely to expect of life a great deal of effort and a small fraction only of comfort. It was a way of life. People struggled to survive. They respected hard work in others.

Even now, some of these old timers, these old farmers, they’ll give you anything, they will help you, but if you ever show any disrespect, discourtesy, or selfishness they’ll lend to you and there comes to a point they won’t loan you a thing, they won’t talk to you, they’ll turn their back on you because they expect a man to live by his word. They expect you to be the kind of man that they have been and their friends have been and the other farmers have been and if you’re not that kind of man they shut you out.

There’s not many people left in this country that have a will to effort. Schools don’t teach it anymore at all. They make excuses for it. That’s why we home school. One of the reasons. There are not many kids living on the farms much anymore. Stores and factories controlled by the unions and by a union mentality. No longer people work hard. They just kind of loaf around to draw a salary. They think people owe them something. All of that came out of the homes.

They expect a great deal of comfort, no effort. They’re Democrats. If a child doesn’t control his anti‑social responses in every day life he will never develop the habit of control. Children are born with a will to dominate. It takes training to develop a will to peace. If all your children have a will to peace then parenting is an easy job. Communicating that will to peace, I think the best environment for that is a family that is unified in a vision. Working, laboring, together to achieve some great end.

When you’re bored, it’s a lot more exciting to have a fight than it is to just relax and lay back because it’s stimulating, it’s exciting, the adrenaline flows, so people will fight who get bored. We talked about the natural man, the outer man, the flesh, the inner man. There’s the chart again. Remember it.

I have some tapes, by the way, called “Body, Soul, and Spirit,” some CDs. You do know that back down these halls somewhere here, back that way maybe, yes, right back there, there’s a No Greater Joy table and then a lot of crafts. I suggest you go back there and see what the kids have made.

Let’s sum it up. Children come into the world, no moral awareness. They get up a year and a half old, they’ve got just a tiny bit. They get up about five years old and they’ve got quite a bit of moral awareness. Then they get up about 14, they have 95 percent of them, moral awareness that they should have. Actually, the scientists tell us that a child is about 25 years old before they’re completely developed in their moral perspective.

The body knows only pleasure and pain. Lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh. Children live to indulge. They desire to be number one. The Bible said there are three things in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life that is not of the Father but of the world. That means it’s natural. The pride of life. Those three things are in the child.

Passions and appetite will rule the child’s soul. The flesh becomes more sophisticated, as we talked about, learns to discipline self for the sake of pleasure. Selfish ends cause them to not be selfish. The flesh becomes more sophisticated but not less carnal. In time, people give themselves over to possessions, to satisfying the lust of the flesh. The flesh lusts against the spirit, the spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary to one another so you cannot do the things you would.

That battle is taking place in all of us. It doesn’t take place in the child because there’s no spirit active to lust against, just the flesh. By the time they’re two years old, that spirit beings to prevail and by the time they’re four you’ve got enough spirit there that they can be completely addicted to the wrong thing if they’re not disciplined.

Making the transition from dependence to independence. Stage one is stage of ignorance, one to two years old. Trained by conditioning, stage two, two to three years old. From two to three years old to 10 or 12 years old they’re growing into this state of accountability, developing a knowledge of good and evil, learning responsibility. During that time you must hold them accountable.

They’re trained by conditioning but also by teaching and instruction. In stage three the children are 10 or 12 or so to 20 years old and they’re becoming independent souls. They’re growing into a knowledge of good and evil, they’re becoming fully responsible, and they’re growing into full accountability. They’re trained not by conditioning anymore but by example and by welcome council.

Too old to spank, too old to intimidate them, you’ve got to train them much like you would your next door neighbor if you’re trying to influence them. Parent must assume responsibility for whatever degree of moral ignorance the child has, for whatever degree they’re not full developed, why we’re gadding them into autonomous decisions.

The word of God says we must, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he’s old he will not depart from it.” It doesn’t say train him up and he will depart for a while but eventually he’ll come back. When he’s old he’ll come back to it. That’s not what it says. That’s terribly abusing the words. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he’s old he will not depart from it.”

He will abide with this as he ages, as he matures, if you train him up rightly. I found this to be true. Many of you have testified and proven this to be true. Many of you are in the process of proving this to be true. It’s so good for us to come together like this where you can see that you’re not alone. Some of you feel kind of alone where you are. You see that this is a small representation of some two million plus kids home schooled in America.

I say plus because, like in our community, there’s dozens, maybe 100 kids, that are home schooled that the government knows nothing about. There not registered with anybody, they just do what they do. That information never gets into the statistics. I know there are people all over America that that’s true. Small groups where they’re home schooling and they’re not part of statistics.

So well over two million is estimated and I think the number is much higher than that. We’re training up the children in the way they should go. I don’t think that anyone who sends their kids to public school are training up the children in the way they should go.

I don’t think it’s possible to train up your children in the way they should go if they go to public school because the public school is spending eight hours a day with them while you’re spending one or two. They go to public school for eight hours, TV or video games for one or two hours, playing outside for one or two hours, and a half hour running past you. Then you take them to church on Sundays and say, “I taught them right.”

No you didn’t. You were the minor teacher. Five percent of their training came from you, 95 percent of it came from their peers and from the Obama administration, and whoever else is up there directing the soul of your children to their end, not to God’s end. You cannot send your children to public school.

I will add to that, you cannot send them to a Christian school where kids have gone to public school, and now go to the Christian school. I’ve watched people have kids that get in trouble in public school. Then they take them out and put them in the local Christian school to try to redeem them. They bring the same garbage into the school, and your kids going to that school pick it up.

Now, if you’ve got a good Christian school that starts with kids at zero and brings them up and never receives a public school child into the school, and it’s closely guarded and watched, and it’s very small then you might, if you’ve got trusted mentors in that school, you might get good results. I think the only way that you can be guaranteed that that child will not depart from the ways of the Lord, is if you take responsibility to train them up yourself.

You’re doing that, continue doing that, don’t be weary in well doing, don’t faint, lift up the hands that hang down to the feeble knees and make straight paths to your feet. For due season you shall reap if you faint not.

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One comment on “Michael Pearl: Nature of the Child (NGJ Shindig 2013)”

  1. I’ve been struggling with self will for the last few months. I got out of a mennonite religion a fwd years back. Turned my back on religion completely. Found out ask you has to do to be saved was believe. Happy bubble for a few days. Took Gods liberty and grace a little to far I suppose bevause I started getting weird, substituted to wrong doing. I figured I wasn’t going to hell, so why not say whatever I wanted think however I wanted, had I not been pregnant……I’m prettu sure I wouldve gotten pregnant and not known who the dad was. Let me tell you. I had no peace, no quiet inside ormyself. Finally,i thought God had left me and he no longer loved me or my kids. I actually wrote no greater joy, just thought maybe ya’ll’s brains weren’t so foggy. Tonight,i got sad, and really wanted answers, so I started reading whatever article I fancied, and I chose this one. Convicted, slightly, relieved completely. Having no self control is debilitatingand makes the human off cilter and strange. Talk about confused. Thank you for bringing some light into my hardened and sad heart. Sincer,