Category Archives: Christian character studies

Tips for Building Godly Character in Children

character building for childrenIn my last post, I talked about the two components of teaching good character traits to our children:

  1. Modeling by example
  2. Using a character curriculum or topic-based Bible study as a framework of instruction.

Choosing a character curriculum

There are many to choose from these days, but here are some things to watch for:

1. Make sure the curriculum focuses on heart change, rather than only behavior modification.

Deuteronomy 6:5, 6 tells us, “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day, shall be in your heart.”

Teaching character to our children from a purely logical, what’s-in-it-for-them perspective will not bear good fruit, long-term. If we somehow implant in them the idea that exhibiting good character is about expediency — experiencing success, being rewarded for good behavior and suffering consequences for bad behavior, we only end up stroking their flesh.

  • If you learn to be kind, you will get along better with people and in the workplace.
  • Integrity is an important stepping stone to success.
  • People will think well of you if you do x, y, and z. If you do otherwise, you won’t be liked / won’t be promoted / will ruin your reputation.

While those things are true in a general sense, taking the high road of good character will sometimes lead us into suffering. We must prepare our children to do what is right even if that means enduring negative outcomes.

Teaching our children only to modify their outward behavior cultivates a mentality of doing the right thing so as not to get caught in unpleasant consequences. It can lead to legalism, because it dwells on our works and ability to do well in our own strength.

Character curriculum which focuses on the heart, on the other hand, will emphasize inner attitudes and leaning on Jesus for help to do what is right.

  • How will Jesus feel if I do this or that? Will it make Him sad or happy?
  • What would Jesus do in my situation? Why?
  • If I do or say this, will I hurt someone else?

Character education aimed at the heart will lead to greater desire for relationship with Jesus and a yearning to be like Him, simply because He is worthy. If we can get to our children’s heart attitudes, the outward behavior will follow along.

2. The curriculum should be Bible-centered.

Several of the popular character programs available are focused on logic and behavior modification — because they do not have Jesus as their beginning reason. Why would we, as Christian parents, even consider teaching our children character from a secular worldview? Yet, some do, because of rave reviews or an economical price.

Try to find materials which fit well with your beliefs. However, no program is perfect for all families. It is likely that even with the best of them you will need to make some adjustments. Choose materials which center on Jesus and are doctrinally sound. Your denomination may even have the resources you need.

3. Free is not always best.

I know money can be tight, but don’t let the temptation to choose “free” keep your children from a great character education.

With character education, once is not enough.

Just like with other things we teach our children, building strong character means we will need to repeat the instruction to reinforce it. That could mean using more than one character curriculum through the years, or reviewing and repeating the one you have. I recommend that people go through our curriculum, Character Building for Families, more than once — because we all tend to forget things we have learned, and God focuses our attention on one aspect the first time and a different point the next.

You are in this for the long haul.

Character education takes time. It is not a, “We accomplished that and now we’re done” kind of thing. You will need to be patient and diligent in forming your children’s character. Consistency is key, both in instruction and in putting it into practice. We are discipling our children, and that doesn’t happen quickly or easily.

Prayer and the Word are essential components of character building.

 1. Pray for your children’s character. Parents’ prayers are powerful. They touch the heart of God. And they cooperate with the desires our heavenly Father already has for our children.

2. Teach your children to develop consistent prayer and Bible reading habits. This is such an important part of building their character. As they absorb God’s Word and commune with Him, they can’t help but grow in Christ’s likeness. Becoming increasingly like Jesus should be the goal of every Christian. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). We can help our children begin at an early age by teaching them to pray and read the Word.

3. Teach your children to recognize, be sensitive to, and obey God’s voice.

If you need help with teaching your children how to pray and hear God’s voice, we have a couple of short, practical books to assist you. Simply click the images below.

 

Teach Your Kids to Hear God!

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

 

Raising our children to be people of Christ-like character is not easy, but it is the most important task we have been entrusted with for our families. Diligently persevering in it reaps great rewards in their lives and for us in eternity. Though not easy, as you lean on the Lord, He will abundantly help you to reach the goal.

 

Character Building for Families,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

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Why Character Studies Are Important for Your Family

Bible character training“I don’t see the need to ‘teach’ character to my children. They will naturally learn good character through my example and through everyday situations as they happen.”

I’ve heard the comment numerous times from well-meaning parents. The problem is, such an approach is naïve. Furthermore, it does not follow the model God gave us in the Bible.

Modeling good character for our children is an important part of the picture, of course. If we tell them how they ought to behave, but then do not follow through by living out the example of what we preach, our children will see through our hypocrisy. They are more likely to do as Mom and Dad do, than live only by what we say.

But, good character doesn’t automatically rub off on our children as we set the example for them. It needs to be presented systematically, “precept upon precept … line upon line” (Isaiah 28:10, 13). Teaching the concepts of Christ-like character within an organized framework, in companionship with modeling it by example, will bring about the best results in shaping our children in the image of  Jesus.

The Old Testament speaks of making a concentrated effort to bring up our children in the ways of the Lord. No doubt you are familiar with Proverbs 22:6‘s exhortation, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Consider also Deuteronomy 6:5-9:

And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart, and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be like frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the posts of your house and on your gates.

Notice that we are to teach the Lord’s commands diligently to our children, to talk of them when sitting and walking together, before bedtime, and in the morning when we arise. The Israelites were to bind them upon their hands (figuratively speaking of their actions) and on their foreheads (speaking of the mind), and to write them upon their gates and homes. That sounds like a pretty intense plan for training up children in the way they should go, doesn’t it? Nothing haphazard there!

What about in the New Testament? Well, Jesus was the perfect example of godly character to His disciples. They lived with Him day and night, continually seeing Him portray how to live a life of love toward God and  their fellow man. Yet, Jesus did not merely teach them by His example. In the gospels, we see that He spent many hours instructing His disciples in the specifics of how to think, speak, and live. Apparently, He knew they would not “catch” good character only by watching Him live it. They needed the reinforcement of solid expounding on the Scriptures and how to apply them.

The same is true of the apostle Paul. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, he encouraged the believers, “Be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (teaching by example). Yet, as we read through his letters to the churches, we see much detailed written instruction in how to walk out holy lives.

Well-rounded character education is a bit like biology or chemistry: we present information through textbooks and lectures to put a framework of scientific concepts in place, and then we apply that knowledge in hands-on lab situations. In the same way, we should teach character systematically, through a character curriculum or series of character-oriented Bible studies, and then apply that knowledge in everyday life through example and practice.

Without some kind of consistent plan in place for teaching character, we can easily miss important areas of character development in our children. Because we have blind spots, we don’t always notice areas of weakness in our children or ourselves, even though those weaknesses may be glaringly obvious to others. By using character training materials, we make sure we touch the areas we could otherwise so easily miss.

In my next post, I will share some ideas of how to do our best at developing Christ-like character in our children.

 

Character Building for Families,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Foundations and Walls

mason laying bricksI often hear God speak to me through dreams. In fact, one of the ways I serve in the body of Christ is by teaching others how to understand what God is saying to them through their dreams.

Recently, I dreamed that I had been reading Tales of the Kingdom, a much-beloved children’s book in our family while our girls were growing up. In the dream, I noticed there were many silver objects and references to silver in the book. Then, an old, silver-haired man approached me. Pointing his finger for emphasis, he explained that the silver symbolism was present because older people are going to have an important role to play in God’s kingdom in the days ahead.

I believe this role will primarily be one of re-laying the foundations of our Christian faith in those around us and rebuilding the walls which have crumbled, much like Nehemiah led the Jewish people to do in Old Testament times. My sense is that this is something the Lord will be emphasizing to His Church a great deal in the near future.

While my dream was specifically about those of us who are in the grandparenting age group, this does not mean younger generations are without responsibility. If you still have children growing up in your home, you can do your part by building solid foundations and kingdom walls in your children. To them, you are the older generation!

What are the foundations I’m speaking of? They are the pure and simple gospel (what 2 Corinthians 11:3 calls “the simplicity which is in Christ”) and the nonnegotiable beliefs of Christianity, which were firmly laid in place by the original New Testament apostles.

The apostle John said of these, “Let that therefore abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, you also shall continue in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24).

The apostle Paul likewise exhorted Timothy, “The things which you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit those same things to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

The “walls” we are to build are more about discipleship, how to live out godly lives in keeping with Christ — in essence, character education.

Paul gave a few specifics of what that should look like, in Titus 2:1-8:

You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

NIV – Bible Gateway

Homeschooling parents have a powerful opportunity to lay the foundations and build the walls in our children’s lives, so that they will grow up to be mighty men and women of God.

I encourage each of you, you can do this! You may not know everything there is to know about the Bible, but you have the Holy Spirit to teach you, and He can also bring resources to your attention to assist you. My series, A Well-Grounded Faith,  and Character Building for Families can help you get started.

Take the time to pray with your children. Read the Bible with them. Instruct them in the foundations of our faith. It’s even more important than getting all the academic stuff accomplished. Raise up those mighty warriors for the Lord.

homeschool character training

 

Character Building for Families

 

teach children to pray

 

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Announcing …

Now through May 15

Character Building for Families

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$2.00 off (U. S. only), exclusively at our website.
Regularly $16.00, now $14.00.

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Christian homeschooling parenting tool

Place a group order of 5 or more books for even greater savings! E-mail leeann@fullgospelfamily.com for info on group-order discounts.

Pass the word to friends and homeschool / parenting support groups.

Character Building for Families

 

Protecting Our Children from Supernatural Evil (Part 3)

Christian parentingIn our last two posts, we talked about activities which can lead to harassment from evil spirits. We also discussed principles to help our children grow in spiritual discernment, so that they will know what to avoid. And, I shared a simple process for gaining freedom if you or your children are already experiencing various forms of spiritual affliction, such as nightmares.

Today, we’ll talk about teaching the beginning principles of personal spiritual warfare to  our children. This is a subject which they should become familiar with even in their early years. We want them to know what to do if spiritual attack comes their way. Here are concepts even young children should be informed of:

1.) There is a God, and there is a devil — but God is WAY bigger.

Explain that God is the Creator of everything, His power and knowledge are unlimited, and He is able to be everywhere all at the same time.

Tell them the devil is one of God’s created beings. He was once an angel of great power in heaven, but he and other angels with him rebelled against God. So, the Lord threw them out of heaven. These evil angels now want to ruin God’s plans.

Assure them that, unlike God, the devil and his evil angels are limited in their power. They do not know everything, nor can they be in more than one place at a time.

Learn 1 John 4:4 together: “You belong to God, little children, and have overcome them [evil spirits]: because greater is He [God] Who is in you than he [the devil] who is in the world.”

2.) God will always take care of them.

Assure them that angels are always guarding them. Psalm 91:11“For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”

 Each person has a special guardian angel all his own. Matthew 18:10“Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones, for … in heaven their angels always behold the face of My Father Who is in heaven.”

Tell them there are many promises in the Bible that God will keep them safe from evil. (Psalm 4:8, Psalm 91, and Psalm 121 are just a few. I recommend memorizing these psalms with your children.)

3.) The devil tries to fool us with lies — but God always tells us the truth.

Assure them that God speaks good and loving things into our minds, which are in keeping with the Bible. Any thought which questions God’s goodness, or tears down ourselves or other people, is not from God.

Help them understand that the devil and his helpers will insert thoughts or temptations in their minds which are wrong. Explain that they should resist those thoughts.

Tell them that they can make those thoughts stop by commanding the evil spirit to be quiet and leave, in Jesus’ name.

Explain that if they have Jesus living in their hearts, they have the power to command evil spirits to go in Jesus’ name, and they must obey. (This is a great opportunity to lead them to Jesus, if they have not already given their hearts to Him.)

Verses to memorize, which go with this idea:

1 John 4:4“You belong to God, little children, and have overcome them [evil spirits]: because greater is He [God] Who is in you than he [the devil] who is in the world.”

James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

4.) What if they see evil spirits? Don’t be surprised if your children say odd things about invisible people or creatures. Children often see into the spirit realm more easily than many adults. It is not always imaginary. They may see angels; they may see evil spirits.

Teach them that if they see monsters or other scary beings, they do not have to be afraid. Tell them to command the scary creatures to leave, in the name of Jesus — just like if they are tempted with bad thoughts.

5.) What if they have scary dreams? Again, tell them that Jesus and His angels are always there to protect them, so they don’t have to be afraid. And instruct them again that they can command the devil to leave them alone in Jesus’ name.

6.) Jesus has given us spiritual armor.

Memorize together Ephesians 6:10-18. You can do it one verse at a time. Explain the significance of each piece. I have written an article on this, if you need help — Jesus Is the Armor!

Have fun with it by making a paper doll soldier with pieces of the armor. Here are some links to help you:

http://www.dltk-bible.com/crafts/armor/mpaperarmor.htm

https://ministry-to-children.com/armor-of-god-coloring-pages/

http://www.supercoloring.com/coloring-pages/armour-of-god (coloring page)

7.) They are overcomers, because God says they are.

Assure them that even when they feel weak, Jesus is strong, and He fights our battles for us.

Remind them that they have angels to protect them, too.

Tell them the Word of God promises that they will always win their spiritual battles, if they trust Jesus to help them.

Verses to learn:

1 Corinthians 15:57“But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Corinthians 2:14 “Now thanks be to God, Who always causes us to triumph in Christ….”

If you teach these spiritual warfare principles to your children, they will be well equipped from an early age to deal confidently and victoriously with evil spirits.

Previous: Part 2 (Teaching children to discern good from evil)

homeschool character training education

 

Character Building for Families

 

Teaching Truth to Our Children — 5 Free Lessons

Hello, friends!

It has been a busy summer at our house — family visiting us, trips to see family, and all the usual summer stuff. I hope to begin writing a new blog series soon. In the meantime, here are five free lessons from the Truthfulness unit of our book, Character Building for Families, Volume 1. There are nineteen lessons in that unit, which will lead you and your children into thinking about truth in speech, actions, and most importantly, truth as an attribute of the heart. I hope you will enjoy the lessons!

TRUTHFULNESS

DAY 1

  1. Introduction
    1. “Today we begin a new unit — TRUTHFULNESS. What would be a good definition of truthfulness?”
    2. DEFINITION: “Truthfulness is saying, thinking, and living what is really so. The opposite of this would be saying, thinking, or living a lie.”
    3. “Why is being truthful so important in God’s eyes?” (God is truth; His Word is truth.)
    4. “God wants us to be like Him. That’s why He teaches us about truthfulness in the Bible.”
  2. Read Psalm 19:7-10. Discuss each verse carefully, emphasizing the points listed below:
    1. 7 — Law of the Lord perfect (no mistakes, complete). His testimony is sure (unshakably true).
    2. 8 — His statutes right, His commandments pure (clean of error)
    3. 9 — His judgments true
    4. 10 — “Therefore, because of His truth, how can we feel about His Word?” (more desirable than wealth, sweet to us)
  3. Read Psalm 119:140, 142, and 160.
    1. “Does God’s Word have error or lies in it?” (v.140 — very pure, v.142 — is the truth)
    2. “Can we trust all of God’s Word as truth, or is some of it just stories?” (v.160 — true from the beginning)
  4. Thank God for the truth of His Word.

DAY 2

  1. “What is our definition of truthfulness?” (Refer to Day 1.)
  2. “Let’s look at a few Scripture verses that tell us God’s Word is completely true.”
    1. Psalm 12:6 — very pure, no imperfections
    2. Psalm 93:5 — very sure, or certain
    3. II Samuel 7:28 — “…thy words be true…”
    4. Proverbs 30:5 — “Every word of God is pure…”
  3. “Jesus also had some things to say about the truth of God’s Word.”
    1. John 10:35 — “…the Scripture cannot be broken.” (proved false, contradictory)
    2. John 17:17 — God’s Word is truth; we are sanctified (made clean and holy) by God’s true Word.
  4. Thank God we can trust in the purity and truth of His Word.

DAY 3

  1. “Would God ever lie to us?” “How do we know He wouldn’t lie?”
  2. Read the following Scriptures and discuss:
    1. Titus 1:2
    2. Numbers 23:19
    3. Hebrews 6:18
  3. “Because of these Scriptures we have just read, and the verses we studied in our last lesson, we can be confident God would never lie to us. It is not at all in His nature.  He says exactly what He means.”
  4. Thank God and tell Him how glad we are He cannot lie.

DAY 4

  1. Review
    1. “What was our definition of truthfulness?”
    2. “What have we learned about God’s truthfulness?”
    3. “What have we learned about the reliability of His Word?”
  2. “Jesus says He is Himself truth.” (Read the following verses together.)
    1. John 14:6 — the way, truth, and life
    2. Revelation 3:7
    3. Revelation 3:14 – “Faithful and True” is one of the names, or titles, of Jesus.
    4. Revelation 19:11 — again referring to Jesus as Faithful and True
  3. “Proverbs 14:5 tells us, ‘a faithful witness will not lie.’ Since Jesus is the Faithful and True Witness, we know He will not lie.  We can trust fully whatever He says.”
  4. “If God is always truth, where do lies come from? Let’s read John 8:44 to find out.”  (read)
    1. “The devil is the father of lies. He never, ever tells the truth.  Even when he quoted Scripture to Jesus in the wilderness, he twisted it by pulling it out of context.  He likes to tell half-truths.  Half-truths are just another way of lying.  They are not true at all.  Can you explain a half-truth to me?”
    2. “This is why we must be so careful to know the whole Bible well, so we don’t get fooled by the devil misquoting Scripture to us, in our minds, or through false teachers.”
    3. “If the devil is the father of lies, does that mean we can blame it all on him when we lie?” (No, we must take responsibility for our own actions.)
  5. Thank Jesus that He is the Faithful and True Witness. Ask Him to keep us from being fooled by the devil’s lies.

DAY 5

  1. Review
    1. “Who is truth?”
    2. “Who cannot tell the truth?”
    3. “Who cannot lie?”
    4. “Whom do we want to be like?”
  2. Read Proverbs 6:16-19.
    1. “What is an abomination?” (a hateful, grossly disgusting thing)
    2. “Notice that at least two of the seven things mentioned that God hates concern lying– a lying tongue and a false witness that speaks lies. ‘A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations’ could also have to do with lying, because wicked imaginations are evil thoughts, which could be thoughts not filled with truth.”
  3. Read Proverbs 12:22.
    1. “What does God have to say about lying?” (an abomination)
    2. “What does God have to say about those that act in a true fashion?” (He delights in them.)
  4. “Today we have talked about three ways that a person can either tell the truth or lie:
    1. By speaking (Prov. 12:22, Prov. 6:17)
    2. In the thoughts (Prov. 6:18)
    3. In the actions (Prov. 12:22)”
  5. Pray for grace to tell the truth in our thoughts, in our words, and in our actions.

Unfortunately, the blogging platform I use doesn’t permit me to accurately show how the pages look in our Character Building for Families books. But here is a picture.

Sample page -- Character Building for Families

I hope you enjoy using the lessons I’ve posted! If you think you would like more, please visit us at Character Building for Families! And, if you have found these five lessons useful, please pass on the post link to others who might also benefit from them. Thank you!

Character Building for Families

Bringing Up Royal Sons and Daughters (Part 4)

BullyingIn Part 1 of this series, we talked briefly about teaching our children to live as servant royalty — to use their princely positions to bless and assist people, instead of tyrannizing over them. Sons and daughters of the heavenly King are to live by what James 2:8 calls “the royal law,” to love our neighbors as ourselves.

However, those who are not part of God’s royal family don’t necessarily live by that law, and unfortunately, some of the King’s children have never learned to abide by it, either. All through life, our children will encounter bullies, both in the world and in the church — those controlling folks who try to get their way through manipulation and intimidation. We need to teach them how to navigate their relationships with these people in such a way as not to succumb to the fear of man. Proverbs 29:25 tells us, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”

When we clearly understand that we have full rights as adopted sons and daughters, and that we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6), this knowledge helps to insulate us from giving in to intimidation. Bully the prince or princess? Seriously?

But, we must help our children discover how to walk out their freedom from intimidation in an attitude of calm, wisdom, and grace, rather than reacting to intimidation with behavior similar to the bully’s. While they do not have to submit to being trampled, the Lord’s way is still to maintain kindness. Proverbs 15:1 is as true today as it was when Solomon wrote it: “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”

Knowing when to respond firmly with level-headed coolness and when to avoid confrontation altogether takes practice. It also takes staying sensitive to the Lord, so that we know when to speak up and when to let it go. This is one of the very “rubber meets the road” ways that we walk out Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Our children won’t mature into this overnight, and we need to review the concept with them often, as well as help them walk through situations as they arise. After all, this is difficult for those of us who are adults, too!

Our best example of how to handle intimidation is Jesus. Read with your children the passages in the gospels where Jesus interacts with the religious leaders, and also how the apostles handled the same kinds of situations in Acts 4:1-21 and Acts 5:27-29. Balance those stories with what Jesus said about turning the other cheek and blessing those who abuse us (Matthew 5:38-48).

The main thing to get across to our children is what their inner attitude should be, when encountering intimidators. They can respond gently and graciously, and yet know that they are not under the thumb of someone else. We can teach them to stand tall when others try to humiliate them and not receive those taunts into their hearts. And, we absolutely must remind them to forgive, letting go of offense before it takes root inside. Bullies can make outward difficulties for us, but they cannot really rule us unless we give them that permission in our minds and emotions. Children of the King, who know their family connection, are inwardly free from the dominion of anyone but their Father in heaven.

This concludes the series on bringing up royal sons and daughters. I hope it has provided some ideas for how to help your children realize who they are in Christ, and how to walk out their royal heritage in fullness and fruitfulness.

Sonship in God’s family is such a vast subject. What has God been showing you about it? How do you plan to instill those ideas in your children? I’d love to hear from you!

Previous — Part 3

Character Building for Families

 

Character Building for Families