“What a character!”
When we hear those words, we are pretty sure they are not quite meant as a compliment. Weird? Eccentric? Funny? Outside the box? Probably. When we refer to someone as a character, we usually don’t mean the person possesses good character in the classic way in which we define character.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.~Philippians 4:8 ESV
So, what does good character look like? Is it something we are born with? No, we are not born with good character. The Bible makes it clear that we learn character by seeing it modeled by good parents, teachers, and pastors, to name a few. When we are children, we likely see this behavior exhibited by Sunday school teachers.
My favorite definition of character is that which is describing someone who does the right thing even when no one is looking. I think about obeying traffic laws, such as using the turn signal, even when there is no other car in sight.
I remember reading a story some years ago about an outgoing young woman who fell in love with a stoic young man. He was unlike anyone she had ever known. Someone asked her, after they had been married for some years, why she had married someone so different from herself. She answered, “Because he uses his turn signal on dirt roads, where there is no traffic anywhere in sight. I figured if he was faithful to do the right thing in a traffic situation, he would be a faithful husband and father. I fell in love with his character first. It was easy to love a man like that.”
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.~Titus 2:7-8 ESV
My parents conducted themselves with truth, integrity, and love for others. Not just in public, but in our home as well, I could trust them in every situation. Our parents loved us unconditionally and were always truthful with us. We were secure in that knowledge, and we grew up knowing the proper way to treat people because we saw them treat others with integrity and kindness.
Children have a front-row seat in their family theater. They watch our truth, integrity, and love. Or, they watch our lack of those qualities. They watch as we play out the scenes of our life. They watch our behavior at home, and they watch our behavior in public. Are these two scenes consistent with each other? Do we live a different life away from home?
In order to build character in our children we need to intentionally live out godly attributes not only in front of our children, but to be faithful to live them out in every aspect of our lives. We have a great responsibility to pattern good habits and truth, so they will copy those as they grow into adulthood.
The language we use is a dead giveaway to our character. I am not necessarily speaking of the use of curse words, although if we do use that kind of language, it flashes bad character like a neon sign. Children easily pick up on inappropriate language, in addition to unacceptable behavior.
Does our speech send negative messages? Or are we in the habit of being positive? Do we build others up, or do we bring them down with the words we speak? Proverbs 18:21 tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. A parent or other adult in authority, with just the wrong word, can destroy the spirit of a child. On the other hand, the right word has the power to place hope and encouragement in the heart of that child.
The most important lesson we can teach our children is how to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ, the one Who has the greatest character of anyone who ever walked the earth. Jesus possesses integrity. His word is truth, and He is kind. He exhibits love and mercy to all. The greatest example of Jesus’s love and mercy was His sacrifice on the cross.
One way to introduce Jesus is by singing songs about Him to babies. I learned that if I sang Jesus Loves Me to my children when they cried, they calmed down. In this way, the name of Jesus was introduced to them. As they grew to be toddlers, I read Bible stories to them. They especially enjoyed the ones about Jesus. By the time they attended Sunday school and Bible school, they knew a lot about Jesus. So, when they were older and got to know Him better, they welcomed the chance to ask Him into their hearts.
In what ways can you think of to encourage the children in your life?
Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me how to be a person of good character. I come before You with praise, honor, love and thanksgiving. Guide me in the journey of bringing up children of godly character. Give me wisdom, and direct my path.
I glorify You in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Copyright 2021: Building Your Child’s Character: Evelyn Mason Wells: All Rights Reserved