For family life to hum there needs to be foundation of character – in both adults and children alike. Character is the quality of responses we have to people or circumstances.
Here is a short list of character qualities that need to be in family life:
- Availability: showing the worth of a person or task by giving my undivided concentration
- Deference: limiting my freedom so I don’t offend the tastes of others around me
- Enthusiasm: Expressing joy in each task as I give it my best effort
- Initiative: recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it
- Truthfulness: earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts
(these five definitions are taken from a list of 49 from Character First
How do you respond to the people and circumstances in your home and how do your children respond?
Character based responses are founded on two ideas
- I want my life to reflect my love for God and my relationship with Him – this happens by the choices I make
- I want to love others – this also happens by the choices I make.
When all our relationships and activities are built upon these two ideas our family life begins to look very different. Sinful attitudes and actions (such as selfishness, anger, laziness) still show themselves but we can address it by first helping our kids (or ourselves) understand what God requires of us and then by intentionally walking towards it (putting it into practice).
The Bible says … But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behaviour, slander and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. (Col 3:8-10 NLT) Then in verse 12 it says, As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you … Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
Proverbs is known to be a book of wisdom; a book of pithy maxims that give understanding and knowledge about life and how to live. Many of these proverbs are pointing towards character based choices: we are to:
- Seek knowledge
- Protect our marriage
- Receive instruction and correction
- Show self-control with our tongue by not boasting, complaining, gossiping, lying or teasing.
- Have self-control with our work, money, and time.
- We are to build wise relationships with our family, friends, neighbours
- We are to guard our actions from cheating, stealing, being cruel, planning evil
- We are to give generously and be good stewards of our possessions.
And most importantly we are to fear the Lord which means we live our life, making the choices we make, knowing who He is and reflecting that in all our attitudes and actions.