Jesus Christ embodies all the character traits that Christian parents hope to see their children develop. Though He was a humble servant, the Lord also displayed dynamic leadership (Philippians 2:5-12). Christ mingled with known “sinners,” yet lived in perfect holiness. Jesus promoted peace, yet He expressed zeal for righteousness, denouncing the hypocrisy of His day.
Bree and Cassie were inseparable. The spunky 5-year-olds had played together since birth. They loved tea parties, ride bikes, painting, and dress-up activities. Unfortunately, both girls had strong opinions about how to play. When rash, selfish words slipped out, one friend upset the other.
One day, Cassie and Bree wanted to stage a reenactment of “Frozen.” Both girls had specific ideas of how things should work. First, Cassie tried to control their staging by loud instruction. She demanded to be Elsa, to direct the play, and to choose how to walk around the room singing. But when Bree refused to go along, dashing her plans, Cassie lashed out in anger. Bree’s parents quickly intervened when they heard crying and angry yelling.
As Cassies’s parents arrived for pickup, they found two distraught girls with hair askew and red-hot tears streaming from their cheeks. At home, Cassie could not calm down or shake the frustration of her foiled plans. Her mom sat with Cassie and comforted her, yet she knew this behavior could not continue. She began softly, “Cassie, you can’t control people; you can’t demand your own way. That’s not kind to others.” As Cassies’s mom unraveled the episode, it became clear that Cassie struggled with a proud, insistent attitude towards friends. She was fun and engaging, but occasionally the demanding “me-monster” came out—endangered playtime and friendships.
Cassie’s mom left her to cry on her bed for awhile; then she came back with a calm, but firm countenance. “Cassie, can you tell me what happened? What do you need to apologize to Jesus for?” Cassie finally looked down and identified that her demanding attitude was the culprit. Cassie repented for being a demanding friend (and for yelling at her parents and for throwing a tantrum!).
Cassie’s mom feared that if Cassie’s controlling “me-monster” attitude grew, it would bring nothing but pain! But learning to display Christ’s humble, kind attitude towards others would help Cassie become a phenomenal friend to Bree and to many others.
“Character” describes who you really are, the person you choose to be. You build character through thousands of choices, one decision at a time. The words you speak, the behaviors you model, and the expectations you convey all shape your character. Together with your child, make a list of Jesus’ character traits. Look for practical ways to imitate Jesus and build godly values into your family.
Portions of this article taken from the ABCs of Family Discipleship booklet, available here.