Today we’re continuing our series on leading your children in Christ. As we talk about practical ways to apply this, one of the obvious things to talk about is character. We’ve already talked about how to read the bible to them, also how to foster a love for the word of God on their own, praying by themselves and as a family.
Today were going to be talking about how to build Christ like character within your children and again, anything we do with our children, should be something we’re implementing in our own lives.
People have different parenting philosophies, but the goal my wife and I have for raising children is to create mature Christ-like adults. The goal is not for them to have as much fun as possible, although I want them to have fun. The goal is not to give them the best education possible, although I really want to give them a good education. The goal is not for them to be rich, although I want them to be financially well off when they’re older. The goal in my parenting is to create mature Christ-like adults in my children. We need to keep that goal front and center.
In doing that we need to talk about issues of character. In the New Testament when someone is already a Christian, when they’ve prayed to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, the goal of all disciples is to be more and more like Jesus.
1 John 2:6
Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.
New Living Translation
Other Related Verses
Ephesians 4:15 – Ephesians 5:1 – 1 Peter 2:21 – 1 John 4:17
If that’s the goal for my discipleship then that’s the goal for my children also. Now children are going to express this differently than adults. Remember that children don’t have the same amount of something we have, which is emotional maturity. In general someone cannot be spiritually mature if they are not emotionally mature. So I want to caution us as parents from expecting too much for our children too soon. We can’t expect more from them than they’re able to give.
The second is we also can’t allow it to go the other way and expect nothing from our children. In general society today is doing just that. They are expecting nothing from children and we have adolescence being prolonged in men until they are in their mid to late 20s. Where they’re still living in their parent’s home, playing hours of video games and are working a part time job. I know I’m generalizing but we can’t over burden them and expect things they can’t give and yet we can’t expect nothing and measurable progress as they grow as disciples of Christ.
One of the most important things we’re going to be expecting from our children as we communication our desire for them to follow Christ is an attitude of love. 1 Corinthians 13 talks to us about how love is the ultimate motive for Christian living, that love is the highest goal and it is why Jesus did what he did. Now boys are going to express love differently than girls and that’s okay
He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged. He will not falter or lose heart until justice prevails throughout the earth. Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Now one of the things we like to see in our children whether boys or girls is compassion for others. We point out areas where they can minister to others and sympathize with them. This is key to the working out of love in their lives. People will not actively love unless they sympathize. So we need to teach or children to sympathize with people outside of themselves in order to see what life maybe like in their shoes in order to have compassion and to show mercy to others. Now that begins very early on.
These acts of compassion is any outworking of loving our neighbor as ourselves. As doing onto others as we would want them to do onto us. So one of the very practical ways you can begin to teach your children this principal is to make sure you have eyes to see where you can help people through acts of compassion. It could be at the grocery store or park, it could be someone who needs five dollars or a hug, it could be getting in your car and spontaneously praying for someone that needs prayer. I guarantee it though that it will be very hard for your children to learn what it means to live as a compassionate loving adult if they don’t see it from you.
Guys this is not just a womanly thing, guys may express it differently but compassion comes through no matter what. For guys it maybe “Hey Bobby, this Saturday we’re going to go help John finish the addition to his house because he doesn’t have any help.” You can build these family mottos of love and compassion and they don’t need to be girly necessarily for those of you raising boys, it’s not always taking a meal to a neighbor.
Now it’s important you don’t just do it without saying anything. You need to do it and talk about it as you’re doing it. I know it tells us in the Gospels “Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.” We don’t want to be proud of our good works, we don’t want to flaunt our good works and yet your children won’t just get it simply because they do it. Do it and talk about it at the same time, always humbly and always saying I wish someone would do this for us, when we need a hand, because there will be times that we need help just like they need help.
The second and one of the most important things to cultivate is self-control.
Galatians 5:19-23 list the fruit of the sprit.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
New International Version (NIV)
Self-control is listed as one of the last of the fruits of the sprit but in our home, we believe self-control need to be accessed first in order to get the rest of the fruits of the sprit. Love is above anything but after we being to teach our children of love, begin to teach them self-control. Self-control is incredibly important for people in our generation, adults and children. Our society is suffering primarily because people even in the church lack self-control to the temptations the enemy is besieging us with.
Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.
New International Version (NIV)
What this is saying is, in ancient times is an army was coming to attack a city is where you would go for protection and you would be safe from the oncoming attacking army. What Solomon is telling us is that if you don’t have self-control, the fortified city you run to escape attack has gaping walls in it where the enemies army can just march on through. Now if you don’t have self-control it will be very difficult to access that other fruit of the spirit. So as our children grow in development, age and emotional maturity teach them how to gain self-control.
Disclaimer: I have both birth children and adopted children what I’m about to say applies primarily to children who have been born in an environment of love and trust. What I’m about to say does necessary apply to children who come from a background of abuse and trauma.
How we teach our children self-control is by teaching them that physical pain is not a reason to scream. We’ve all seen at the park a kid slides down the slide and they fall off and they start to scream bloody murder, yes there are times to cry as a child. We tell our children crying is okay, screaming is not appropriate. We tell them if you cut your finger off you can scream, if there is a major injury you better scream so we know what to do with the situation but a lot of times children learn how to manipulate adults through screaming. They scream over things they don’t need to scream about. So we teach our children that physical pain is not a reason to scream. This helps in a variety of environments. Never try to teach your child while the crisis is going on, when the crisis is going on you just need to stop the crisis.
Another way we train our children is we teach them that throwing tantrums is a lack of self-control. Additionally throwing tantrums doesn’t get you what you want. We do not allow the child to manipulate the situation to get what they want.