How am I supposed to teach my children good character?
What does good character even look like?
How much character is enough? Is there such a thing as too much character? Won’t my kids be weird if they act differently than everyone else?
When it comes to teaching character to our children, there’s no shortage of questions and there’s certainly no shortage of opinions. One family’s “character” choices may look vastly different than another family’s choices, even in the church.
So how are we to know what constitutes good character, and even more importantly, how can we teach that good character to our children in a way that changes their hearts and transforms their lives?
First things first…
Although the culture we live in would love to define character according to each person’s strongly held opinions, the only true standard for defining character is the Word of God. The foundation of good character isn’t found in definitions or even in the actions of character, rather good character is fundamentally seen in the person and life of Jesus Christ.
Every positive character quality you can think of originated in the life and person of Christ.
Jesus didn’t practice kindness… He was kindness.
Jesus didn’t extend forgiveness… He was forgiveness.
Jesus didn’t show mercy… He was mercy.
He completely and wholeheartedly embodied the positive character that He longs for His followers to exhibit today. Jesus didn’t learn how to be generous, or loving, or sacrificial, or humble, but instead all of those beautiful acts of character were inherent in who He was and how He lived.
So for us to develop lives of Christ-like character simply means this… We must strive to become more like the Savior. I Peter 1:16 reminds us to: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Again, in the book of I Corinthians, Paul exhorts Christians to: “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” In other words, the disciples knew that their greatest calling in life was simply to become like Jesus.
It’s a simple equation really. Jesus Christ defines, by His life, what biblical character truly is, and for us to have that same biblical character we must become more like Him. We become more like Him as we immerse ourselves in the Word of God and take seriously the call to “put-off” our old self and “put-on” the new self, which is made in the likeness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
Which leads us to the second question… How are we to teach good character to our children in a way that reaches their hearts and transforms their lives?
The simple truth is this: We cannot teach what we are not living!
There are tons of curriculums, and bible studies, and online courses that promise to teach our children all about good character. While those courses are helpful, (obviously we sell some right here at Characterhealth.com) they will never, ever, ever teach our children the HOW of living like Jesus.
It is only as our children see Christ-like living modeled in our homes that they will understand what it means to live and look like Jesus. That certainly doesn’t mean that we have to have it all together and it certainly doesn’t mean that we’ll never fail, but what it does mean is that our children will see how we strive, and repent, and change, and grow on a daily basis.
Memorizing the definitions of character qualities can’t change our children’s lives. However, seeing how growing more like Christ on a daily basis influences our marriages, our parenting, and quite honestly, every relationship we’re a part of, can and will change their lives.
Certainly, in future emails we’ll talk about resources and ways to help your children more clearly “see” Christ in your life. We’ll share things that have worked and pitfalls to avoid as we train our kids to be character champions. However, none of those things will be of any value if our kids aren’t seeing Christ-like character demonstrated through how we are living.
Jesus Christ is the definition and the embodiment of good character and as we become more like Him, that character will take on fresh life and power as we teach and model “Jesus” character for our children.
Today, what are you doing to become more like Jesus?