From the Introduction to
Developing God Character in Children
by Beverly Caruso, Ken Marks and Debbie Peterson
What is character? It is the combination of attributes one has that is determined by the individual’s will. As we read the Scriptures we discover God’s Character. He is truth. He is just. He is love. He is life. He cannot be other than pure and holy.
What kind of Character does He want for us? For our children? Micah 6:8 poses the question and provides the answer: “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
We can learn Character and become men and women of Character only by learning God’s Character and allowing His life and nature to be reflected in us – as the sun’s light is reflected by the moon.
How then, is Godly Character formed – in our own lives and in our children’s? In a society where Godly Character is becoming scarce, this question is on the hearts of many. How can God’s Character be developed in anyone’s life?
God’s Word instructs us, “make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:5.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it, the tree is the real thing.”
Chuck Colson says that someone who perseveres in doing what is right develops a reliable character. Or as Aristotle said, “Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just, by doing just acts; brave, by doing brave acts.”
In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes that becoming virtuous is like becoming an athlete. Even a bad tennis player might make a good shot now and then by sheer luck. But a truly good player, Lewis writes, is someone who has practiced making good shots for years: “whose eye and muscles and nerves have been so trained…that they can now be relied on.”
We have discovered that all issues of life may be viewed through any of the Character Qualities of God. In fact, all of the Qualities are about life. There are crossovers on what a person, family or group is going through. When creative individuals grasp this concept, it is like having a handle on dealing with things as they arise in our lives. Studying Character Qualities provides practical ways to deal with problems.
In the past, parents could rely on the influence of the extended family and long-time family friends to model Godly Character Qualities before their children. Society as a whole – church, school, government – reinforced the Godly principles parents taught their children.
As Josh McDowell points out, today we’ve moved from a Judeo-Christian Society, through the Post-Judeo-Christian Society, to an Anti-Judeo-Christian Society. Those who take a stand for Godly values and morality are assaulted with accusations of intolerance, judgmentalism, and anti-multi-culturalism.
Many Christian parents have given up trying to counter the ungodly influence of their children’s heroes, such as rock singers and movie stars; but we have received a clear mandate from God to “train up a child in the way he should go.” He hasn’t given up on them. We, as Christian parents, tend to congratulate ourselves if we take our children to Sunday School, remove them from public school, enroll them in private, Christian schools, or even (as a growing number of parents are doing) teach their children at home. But, regardless of what setting we have designated for their academic training, we must remember, God gave us – the parents – the responsibility of training our children. We must take the initiative to see that our children develop Godly Character Qualities in their lives.
Taken from the Introduction to: Developing Godly Character in Children – A Handbook and Resource Guide, by Beverly Caruso, Ken Marks, and Debbie Peterson.
© Beverly Caruso