Last time, I said that many of our children’s negative character qualities can become positive ones, through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in them. Let’s talk about how we can help them in the transformation process.
1.) Explain the negative/positive character qualities concept, as presented in Part 1.
2.) Assure your children that Jesus wants to help them with their weaknesses and sin areas. He will work needed change in them gradually, and He will be patient with their failings in the process.
3.) Tell them that you are on their side too, and that you are there for them as their coach and cheerleader in the transformation process.
4.) Mention that God is still working on your character, just like He is on theirs. No one in the family is perfect, and everyone should strive to be patient with one another as you grow together.
5.) Encourage the children to bring their frustrations with themselves and others to Jesus. Tell them they can ask the Lord for His strength to change, and He will help them.
6.) When you see a negative character quality showing up in your children, gently point out to them what they are doing which isn’t good. Give them opportunity to ask the Lord’s and the family’s forgiveness. Then, remind them of what they are becoming in that area.
Example: “How do you think your sister feels, when you order her around? Would you like to be treated like that? God has designed you to be a leader, and leaders do well at giving direction to others. But leaders have to learn to serve and be kind in how they talk, too. They also have to learn not to overdo telling others what to do. Let’s keep that in mind in the future, OK?”
7.) Watch for the positive side of their character traits, and point those out, as you see them happening. For that bossiness/leadership trait, for instance, you might say, “I’m so pleased with the patience you used in showing your sister how to tie her shoes!” Or, about the stubbornness/persistence trait, “I noticed that you kept at that problem you were tackling in your science project. I love how you don’t quit until you get the job done!”
8.) Pray together for the Lord’s help in overcoming, as character issues arise. (But don’t bring up their faults out of the blue. You don’t want them unduly focusing on the problem, as that can cause failure consciousness, which leads to shame and frustration.) Encourage them to depend on the Lord, and that He will help them to change over time.
9.) Apply Bible verses to the character issue you are dealing with. For instance, for the child who is too blunt, you could remind him, “Honey, Jesus says in the Bible to be kind to one another, and to speak the truth in love. Sometimes it’s best not to talk about imperfections we notice in others, even if it is true. And we always need to be careful to say things in a way that doesn’t hurt people’s feelings.”
10.) Talk to them about how God uses a refining process to help us become all that we should be. Encourage them to humble themselves under His correction and yours, rather than resisting and defending themselves.
11.) Teach them to inwardly ask themselves, “What would Jesus do in this situation, if He were me?” This is a discipline which must be practiced by frequently bringing it to their attention, until it becomes a habit. Go on a daily God hunt, where you take time as a family to discuss successes (and sometimes failures ) each of you had during the day in recognizing and following through on what Jesus would have done in your shoes.
12.) Assure them that although you want them to overcome their character weaknesses, you love them wholeheartedly in the midst of them. Help them to understand that you don’t love them more or less based on how they behave. Help them to understand that their Father in heaven also loves them for who they are, not how well they do.
There is a good future ahead for your children — and you. Don’t let their weaknesses (or yours) get you down. Instead, give the Holy Spirit free rein to work on them, and watch Him change the weak areas into strengths worthy of honor.