by author Shari McMinn
Today is my amazing Mom’s 90th birthday, as well as my oldest son’s 42nd birthday. Two great celebrations for two beloved family members, one celebration is for the one who modeled godly character for me during my idyllic childhood and another for the one who was my parenting guinea pig. Now grown and happily married, he and his wife are learning how to instill character in their curious two-year-old son!
As with many foundational life subjects, godly character is not easily nor quickly learned. It is one of those multiple layer topics that must be covered over and over again. Godly character is better learned through real life, everyday experiences than out of a textbook. It can be unintentionally overlooked until a precious child does something shocking or unexpected like blatantly cheating, lying, stealing, or worse! How could she? Why would he? Because we are all sinners in need of a merciful God, boundaries defining right and wrong are necessary, and parents need to diligently teach and supervise their children.
I found in raising my unique learners, I inadvertently overlooked little character flaws they had because I was more focused on their learning issues. When those flaws built up to major negative consequences, I had to apologize to the respective child for not properly training him or her. Then, we had to side-step to focus on godly character attributes before getting back on track. Better to catch things early when it can be easier to train a child, than to wait too long and have to retrain deeply ingrained negative traits!
Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil (Ecclesiastes 8:11 ESV).
God’s Word is full of testimonials regarding godly character, or lack thereof. Both the Old and New Testaments detail the character failures and successes by giants of the faith such as Abraham, Adam, Deborah, David, Eve, Job, Joseph, Mary, Moses, Peter, Paul, Noah, and Solomon. The overarching lessons are that godly character is important to attain and stand on; when we don’t possess and practice good character, families are harmed — often for generations; and entire nations led by ungodly leaders can fall, never to rise again. We indeed need to ask, “What would Jesus do?” Godly character for each of us — parents and children alike — means becoming more like Jesus, so we can act like Him more often.
First, what are important godly-character traits we should strive to instill in our children? These come to mind that were important to my family:
As homeschool parents, it is important to realize that whether your child is gifted, struggling, or has significant developmental delays or disabilities, being more like Jesus will help him or her throughout their entire life. Ironically, while teaching our children godly character, we often find that God is graciously reshaping our own character to be more like His.
Second, what are some basic ways we can begin to develop godly-character in our families?
- Pray regularly with and for your children that God would help them to grow in godly character.
- Use demonstrations of poor character (sin) to remind your children about their need for Jesus, who lived a life of perfect character and offers His righteousness to them by faith. We can never be “good” enough for God apart from Jesus!
- Enjoy daily Bible study as a family that includes reading, discussion, memorization, and prayer.
- Observe people’s character throughout our day; discuss godly vs. ungodly traits .
- Post a chart with godly character traits to cultivate as a family and refer to it regularly.
- Practice do-overs when family members fail to express godly character.
- Read aloud or listen to audiobook biographies about historic heroes of faith.
- Remember more is caught than taught; parents should strive to model godly character.
- Tackle large projects as a family that require diligence, patience, and persistence to complete.
- Use a variety of teaching methodologies for different learning styles to deep-dive character traits.
- Work together cheerfully doing household tasks to complete them thoroughly with excellence.
Finally, I encourage you that gentle training is more effective than harsh instruction. Your own repentance and forgiveness is a must for your children to see that you are not a hypocrite. If your family respects your example of godly character, they will come to trust and emulate you, Lord willing.
For further assistance with godly character training for your family, these Christians have websites with helpful resources:
- Israel Wayne, Family Renewal
- Tedd Tripp, Shepherding the Heart
- Rob Rienow, Visionary Family Ministries
- Danny Huerta, The 7 Traits of Effective Parenting, Focus on the Family
To expand on character training next month, I will share some strategies for the discipline of unique learners, to be posted February 28, 2023, (the fourth Wednesday).
Moms, don’t forget to make plans for Refresh! Arrange for childcare now to enjoy the day off, then register here for CHEC’s Refresh Ladies’ Day, March 4, 2023.
Need some extra homeschooling and parenting encouragement this spring? CHEC’s virtual events, Homeschool Summits, are designed with you in mind! SAVE THE DATE to attend our upcoming FREE online event (from the comfort of your home!), The Big History Summit for Families, April 3-7, 2023. The registration link will be in next month’s Unique Learner blog post. You will be encouraged, equipped, and inspired to finish this homeschool year strong. This is your personal invitation to join tens of thousands of Christian homeschoolers from across hundreds of nations worldwide.
PS: If you have a topic you want me to cover, please email me with your suggestion(s).
your trusted homeschooling friend