Thursday, May 6, 2010

Teaching Character in the Home -- Step 2: Modeling

While the first step to teaching our children character is identifying the character qualities we want them to exhibit, the most important element for instilling character in our children is modeling it ourselves.  As any parent knows, children imitate what they see.  That is one of the most painful parts of parenting -- seeing our faults and shortcomings mirrored in our children's lives, and realizing that if we want to change our children, we must first change ourselves!

Paul instructed his children in the faith to -- "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ."  (1 Corinthains 11:1)  And to -- "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children." (Ephesians 5:11)

So, we must strive to live out the godly character qualities that we want to instill in our children.  When our children are with us 24/7, we can't hide anything from them.  They will see our inconsistencies and our imperfections.  The truth is, character is caught more than it is taught!  Because of that, our daily interaction is actually more powerful than our planned instruction times.

Naturally, we will never be perfect examples for our children, but when we fail, we can demonstrate a powerful example of humility by admitting our failures and asking for their forgiveness. We may think that this will make us appear weak in our children's eyes, but it actually does quite the opposite.

We can also point our children to Jesus Christ, who is the only One who has ever lived on this earth with perfect character and the only One who can give us the grace (the desire and the power) to live out these character qualities. Consider this passage from Hebrews 1:1-3:

"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high . . ."

The phrase "express image" is the translation of the Greek word, charakter, which means "the exact expression (the image) of any person or thing, marked likeness, precise reproduction in every respect, i.e facsimile."  (

Jesus is the perfect representation of the character of God, and His desire is for us to be transformed into His likeness.  Therefore, don't be surprised if even as you are teaching character to your children, you find yourself  in God's Classroom, where He is giving you "homework" assignments that you do not enjoy in order to mold you and shape you into His image.

The more we study each character quality, the more clearly we are able to see where our lives fall short of God's standard.  Then as we humble ourselves before God, He gives us the grace to build godly character into our lives.  (1 Peter 5:5)

My next post will be about how to go about studying the character qualities and systematically teaching them to our children.


Rebecca's Refining said...

So is very humbling to see my imperfections (sins) lived out in the lives of my children! I have had to confess my wrong attitudes/actions many times!

I have started my "Who is my God notebook"...a great way to study the character of God, and thus in turn the sinfulness (or lack of Godly character) in my own life.

Mostly Diane said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I stumbled across yours from mega-family blogs. I liked what you were doing with character and thought it would be good to learn from you. Thanks for sharing.

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