How to Intentionally Foster Your Child’s Christian Character
Like many home-schooling families, you probably chose this path to foster your child’s faith and godliness. Nurturing Christian character is undoubtedly a high priority but can sometimes get lost among curricula, academics, and everyday life.
Here’s some ways to intentionally develop your student’s personal character. But first, let’s briefly recap what the Bible says about it.
What is Christian character?
The Bible says enough about character to fill numerous books. Overarching everything is God’s call for Christians to be holy, as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). As Jerry Bridges points out in The Pursuit of Holiness, this doesn’t mean we are saved by holiness – that would be salvation by works. Rather, a desire for holiness flows out of salvation.
Ezekiel 36 says God gives us a new heart and a new spirit. In 2 Peter 1:4, we’re told that God’s promises allow us to participate in the divine nature. The spiritual fruit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 describes the character changes with growing maturity in Christ, while the Beatitudes pronounce the blessings awaiting those who pursue godly traits.
Why an intentional approach?
Our sin nature causes an ongoing battle against fleshly desires, and we are encouraged to intentionally resist these forces (Galatians 5:16–18).
Furthermore, our enemy would lead us away from God, and we’re instructed to be alert and ready for battle (Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Peter 5:8).
Strategies for fostering character
- Prioritising time for Bible study and devotions
The way we spend our time and energy reveals our priorities. Psalm 5:3 describes how David rose early to pray. Even Jesus made a point of escaping the crowds for time alone with his Father (Mark 1:35).
How much more important for us, then, to set aside time for Bible study and prayer!
- Setting rules and expectations
God’s word instructs us to train children for godly living (Proverbs 22:6), and he set rules for our blessing. In the same way, establishing age-appropriate boundaries helps our children avoid costly mistakes and know they’re loved.
- Developing appropriate consequences for rule-breaking
There’s little point having rules if nothing happens when they’re broken! The Israelites learned that flaunting God’s laws had serious consequences (see 2 Chronicles and 2 Kings).
God says His discipline is for our benefit (Hebrews 12:10). Similarly, disciplining children for disobedience is about helping them grow in godly character and wisdom.
- Teachable moments
How lovely it is when circumstances create opportunities to teach your children about God! Perhaps you’ll drive into a stunning sunset and marvel at His creativity or see a situation resolve and discuss His goodness.
Even when things don’t seem to be going well, we can talk about His sovereignty and omniscience. Be on the lookout for ways to bring God into your daily situations (Deuteronomy 6:7).
- Christian friends, mentors, and community
Given God designed us for relationships, it’s not surprising company impacts our character (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:33).
We’re told that keeping company with the wise helps us become wise (Proverbs 13:20). Mature Christians are to teach the less mature (Titus 2:2-8), and we’re not to forsake gathering with one another (Hebrews 10:25).
Having an encouraging group of believers around them helps young Christians resist temptation and grow in faith and character.
Sophia Auld is the Editor of Australian Christian College’s blog. She has a Bachelor of Applied Science, a Graduate Diploma of Divinity and has been working on an MA in Writing and Literature. Sophia has been writing since 2015 across a range of industries. Two of her children did online homeschool through Australian Christian College. She is known for her depth of research and accurate, evidence-based approach to writing. On the weekends you might find her scuba diving, bushwalking or hanging out with family. Sophia can be reached at email@example.com.