It is essential for parents to build up a godly character in their children in order to protect them from Satan’s attacks. Laying the foundation for this godly character can begin at the moment of birth. From the time they are born till about six years of age, traditionally mothers are the main teachers in building up a godly character. During this time, parents should focus on discipline, working to instill conviction, positive attitudes and healthy fears (e.g. safety awarness, etc).
Laying the foundational characteristics will be covered in three parts. A total of twelve characteristics will be covered. The first four characteristics are: attentiveness, obedience, contentment and neatness.
The chrisitan definition of attentiveness is, “listening to God with my ears, eyes and heart.” The opposite of this would be, “not listening to God.” Knowing the importance of attentiveness in the christian walk of faith, this definition reinforces the importance of having a quiet time with God. This quiet time is spent in prayer, reading scripture and/or a devotion and just listening to what God has to say to us. The family as a whole can have their quiet time (e.g. before bedtime) or members of the family can do their quiet time individually. But attentiveness is something that all members of the family should strive for. It is impossible to do as God would have us do without taking the time to listen to His guidance and wisdom. “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes, keep them in the midst of thine heart.” (Proverbs 4-20-21)
The christian definition of obedience is, “doing what I am told with a happy spirit.” The opposite of this would be, “doing what I want to do.” It seems that attentiveness is something that is being challenged throughout life and not just in the first six years of life. As adults people find themselves in a job they would prefer not to do and sometimes rather than consider attentiveness, they consider to call in sick. A way to teach children and sometimes as a reminder to the parent is to reflect on a relevant bible verse that is convicting and speaks the truth in love as God does to his children. 1 Samuel 15:22b says, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.”
Phillipians 4:11-13 gives a great illustration on how to be content. “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Contentment means having a source of satisfaction within every circumstance. God can bring that source of contentment no matter what the circumstance. Sometimes that is easier said than done and it would be an outright lie to deny that contentment is not always what comes first when a difficult circumstance comes. Yet there is the comfort in knowing that Jesus who tasted every tempation, and even tasted horrible suffering including death, is ready to be our source of contentment in our time of need. A prayer for children to learn contentment is, “Father, teach my children the secret of being content in every situation, through Him who gives them strength.”
The christian definition of neatness is, “everything in its place.” The opposite trait would look like confusion, disarray and chaos. There is no doubt that children are living in a much faster paced culture than generations in the past. Sometimes the need for speed is not always a guarantee that the need for accuracy is accomplished. For example, a child who is rushing through chores to be able to watch a favorite television program may get the job “done” but not in the sense that may be expected. With God, people may rush through a prayer or two during a morning commute to get it “done” but not in the sense that they really spent time with God. 1 Corinthians 14:40 says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Some things may be urgent but not necessarily important. What is important my not always be urgent and may require a conscious effort to slow down.
The next part will cover reverence, forgiveness, gratefulness and faith. In the meantime, pray over these four characteristics and ask God to reveal opportunities to have a teaching moment about these things with your children.