When we see faults in our children’s character, our feelings can range from annoyance to serious concern. Perhaps you have been trying to fix particular attitude problems your kids have, but although you’ve lectured to exhaustion, the issues persist.
It can be discouraging — especially if you recognize that the faults you see in them are your own areas of weakness. Our children are often miniature mirrors of ourselves, and that’s not always pleasant to acknowledge. We don’t want them to make the same mistakes and suffer the same consequences we have, and sometimes we blame ourselves, thinking we’ve inadvertently trained our bad habits right into them!
There’s hope, and it starts with realizing that many negative character traits can be turned into utterly positive ones, as we call upon the Lord for His assistance. He’s the One Who said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
While it isn’t the case across the board, some character flaws are actually good qualities in disguise. Originally, mankind had been created in the image of God, bearing an accurate reflection of His nature, but the resemblance was marred when Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the garden. All of us have inherited the sin nature and the damaged character traits which go with it. Now, the God-image in us is grossly distorted, like how those mirrors in carnival fun houses look — only worse. What was once beautiful became ugly.
Here’s the good news, though: ever since Jesus redeemed mankind through His atonement at the cross, He has been restoring all things. He wants to restore you and your children, too — including those besetting character flaws. The negative traits can be transformed back into what God originally intended them to be.
Let’s take a look at some common negative character qualities, and see what God wants to restore us to:
1.) Stubbornness becomes persistence and perseverance when we allow God to reshape us. The persistence/persevering side of this character trait is crucial for intercessors, leaders, and problem solvers.
2.) Criticalness is the flip side of discernment. Discernment is a vital tool in getting God’s kingdom work done. When we understand the difference between these two, we no longer have to feel paralyzed by negative impressions received in our spirit-man. (See my article, Criticalness or Discernment? at my Out of the Fire blog for how to know the difference.)
3.) Bossiness is the immature mark of born leadership. Born leaders see the goal and just want to get it done! Developing a heart of servanthood helps us overcome bossiness.
4.) Arrogance is transformed into confidence. Arrogance is all about me and what I can do in my strength; confidence is about knowing who I am in Christ and letting His Spirit work through me.
5.) The tendency to be controlling becomes decisiveness and the ability to take the lead when a need presents itself. Control has a root of not trusting God. As we yield to Him and let go, He teaches us when to take the reins and when to restrain ourselves. We learn to delegate, rather than manipulate, and to leave our hands off of whatever is not our realm of responsibility.
6.) Paralyzing timidity and fearful caution change into prudence which weighs situations and moves forward in wisdom.
7.) Blunt lack of tact, when redeemed, becomes a steady directness, a stay-the-course truthfulness, seasoned with grace.
8.) Those who are oversensitive to the actions and words of others usually have an acute ability to hear the Lord hidden inside of them. They can also be keenly empathetic toward the pain of others.
(9.) Self-pity, redirected, becomes compassion.
The Holy Spirit desires to remold each of us so that these negative traits become the positives they were meant to be. He renews our minds and imparts His heart to us, as we spend time in prayer, Bible meditation, and listening to Him.
The Lord has other means to restore the God-image within us as well:
- Suffering brings forth humility and compassion for others.
- Yielding ourselves to His discipline, rather than making excuses for why we are justified in keeping our weaknesses, helps us achieve transformation into positive character faster.
- Allowing Him to bring us through testings creates dependency on Him for His strength.
- Submitting ourselves to others on a regular basis builds humility within.
All of these are necessary components for growing in Christ-likeness. The refiner’s fire cannot be avoided if we wish to move forward in the Lord’s plans for us. We and our kids need to know that. We can ask Him to redeem our areas of weakness, and He will be faithful to answer us.
When we understand that many of our particular faults are actually God-designed traits which are part of our purpose in Him (once they are restored), it is far easier to love ourselves as we are and to cooperate with God to set things right.
Next time, we’ll talk about how we can help our children come into the positive side of their character challenges.