Having strong character is a big deal in our home. We do one focused lesson a week on character, in addition to daily Bible reading and ad-hoc ‘teachable moments’ that arise on the daily anyway. I love ‘the Virtue Bible‘ as a reference point – a resource to which a good friend introduced me.
Our character lesson this week is contentment! Contentment is ‘accepting your situations’.
I have to get creative and think of ways to keep my very active rising 4 year old interested in our character lessons. In this picture, we are popping bubbles for the things we know we must accept in life – this is a ‘contentment walk’. Micah named things he wished could be different but he has to learn to accept, like ‘not being able to drive’, ‘not watching shows,’ and ‘chop down trees’. We took turns naming things we know we have to accept, and popping bubbles for each one.
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”
2 Peter 1:3-4 NLT
“Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers! People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep. There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children. We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry. Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.”
Ecclesiastes 5:10-20 NLT
Last week we discussed compassion. Compassion is having and showing care or concern for any one who is struggling or suffering. We did the same thing last week: defined the character trait and came up with ways to make it real. When I see examples of when we need more compassion, or are displaying compassion nicely, I point it out. We discuss what God probably thinks about the situations and actions we observe. Now we can add contentment to our ‘character watch list’.
These examples are how you build character in children. It happens slowly, but with purpose, over time. Let’s not forget the most important thing here: walk the talk too. Your children will sniff out a fake like a policeman’s German shepherd. Demonstrate unshakable godly character yourself, at all times. When you make a mistake, offer a sincere apology, and then seek forgiveness from God. Look for redemption and restoration in your own life, and make yourself always searchable for the sincere truth of situations.
All your life lessons and object lessons always should be brought back to trying to see things through the eyes of God. How do we know what He thinks? We search His Bible, and we pray. He makes Himself plain to know, to those who ask.
Building godly character is more important than most of our other educational topics, by the way. If I had to sacrifice other lessons to pay attention to building godly character, I would. You will have to make choices in your home too, about the order of priorities and how you spend your and your children’s time. Remember, when your kids are young, it’s your job to ensure their salvation and steward their time. Do so with wisdom.