Building Godly character in your kids is one of the best things you can do to prepare them for life! It is so easy to make sure that our kids are well educated in academics, and that they develop skills in music or sports, while neglecting the vital area of character training.
While character is one of the most important things that we can develop in our children, it’s also a difficult and demanding job.
As parents, it is our responsibility to work hard at helping our children develop and grow in character. We are the best equipped for this job because we love them more than anyone else, and we know them best.
We need to get excited about and have a vision for raising a generation of young people with good strong Christian character, who will stand out in the world, and be used of God.
Romans 13:14 says, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is a good definition of character: Christ-likeness. This must be VERY important to God, as it is a command.
And of course, God equips us with the best resource for doing the job of teaching this – His Word.
There are four important ways that our children learn character.
1. Our children learn character from EXAMPLE.
It is vital that we set an example of Godly character by the way that we live. Our kids are watching, and they will become like us.
We can’t expect our kids to be honest if they see us lying about things. We can’t expect them to have self-control if we are always losing control and getting angry. We can’t expect them to be diligent, if we aren’t diligent about our work.
The hard truth is that our kids become what we are. It doesn’t matter what we say or teach – it’s what we DO that influences them the most.
Of course we are going to make mistakes, and we have areas where we struggle. That’s okay! Just let the kids know that you are trying to do better, and asking God to strengthen you and help you grow in the area where you are weak.
Your kids will be encouraged when they see that you are willing to admit your mistakes, but that you also don’t excuse them, but keep working on them. That in turn encourages them to keep working on their character flaws.
2. Our children learn character through every day life.
Even when we are not intentionally training them in character, their character is being shaped and formed by what we allow them to do, or don’t allow them to do. They are learning through every situations daily, including your reactions, your words, and your activities. Their character is also being shaped by where they are allowed to go, and what they also are allowed to watch, read, and do.
Keep in mind that all books push the author’s values, so be sure your kids are reading wholesome books. We were careful about what we allowed our kids to read, and tried to make sure they were books that were character building. Their character is being shaped by the books that you allow them to read.
Related: Character Building Books
You need to be aware at all times of what your kids are doing, and where they are. If you are present, but distracted, you may end up surprised by some of the things your kids do. It’s your job to be there to guide, teach, supervise, and train.
Is it time consuming? Yes! But it is also worth it because you are making sure that good seeds are being planted, that will spring up into Godly character.
Our children’s character is influenced by role-models.
We need to intentionally give our kids Godly role models that they can look up to. Reading biographies of great Christians with Godly character is one way to do that.
You can also help them get to know missionaries when they visit your church. If possible, invite them over to dinner, and let your kids get to know them a little better.
We encouraged our kids to get to know the missionaries at our church missions conference, and they enjoyed saving their prayer cards, praying for them, and writing to some of them.
By us pointing our kids to these Godly role models, it gave them more of a desire to grow up and serve the Lord. My oldest son is a missionary, and I believe that seed was planted in his little heart as a young boy when he met missionaries that we had over for dinner, or ones he met at the church missions conference.
The other side of this is protecting your kids from poor role models. You don’t want them looking up to most movie stars or sports heroes as their role models.
3. Our children learn character through DISCIPLINE.
When your child acts wrong, or shows wrong behavior or attitudes, look at this as an opportunity to teach and train about what God says in His Word. Don’t look at it as an interruption in what you are doing. Teaching and training your kids’ hearts with Scripture is your job as a parent!
Let me just remind you again, that we shouldn’t let those chances go. It’s easy to get busy or distracted, and miss a great opportunity to point our kids to what God’s word says about their behavior, and to train them in Godly character.
If you have a difficult child, you are blessed with even MORE opportunities a day to shape their character with each occasion that training or discipline is needed.
By the way, the more time you spend training, the less time you should have to spend disciplining. Teach your kids what is expected or allowed, then require the right behavior.
4. Our children learn character through PLANNED, POSITIVE CONSTRUCTIVE TEACHING.
This is the KEY. Don’t leave it to chance, but make plans to purposely teach your children to be like Christ-like.
Have daily character lessons when you teach them different character qualities, what they mean, examples from the Bible of that quality being shown in a negative or positive way, and the results of the negative or positive behavior in that area.
Tell true to life stories relating to different character qualities. (Like the time I wasn’t “attentive” in school, and failed the test as a result.)
We have opportunities daily to speak of character traits like kindness, perseverance, honesty, initiative, diligence, etc. These are words the kids should be very familiar with and hear often.
Think of the character training that our soldiers receive, and the discipline involved. Then think – we’re raising Christian soldiers for the Lord. What a job – what an opportunity! Let’s raise a mighty army for the Lord!