Training Children in Character

Here are some of my favorite resources for Training Children in Character:

  1. Godly preaching and seminars will help encourage you using God’s Word to listen and tweak or overhaul those weak spots in your parenting. They also help you see those areas you should continue in doing right. When we were new parents a free parenting seminar offered in our church by a local pastor over a weekend sparked our hearts for knowing we needed to have a godly aim in training our children. We enjoyed it so much we bought the CDs from our church bookstore and we still listen to them. (White CDs on book).
  2. The Child Training Bible helps us use God’s Word in preventing and dealing with problems. You can see one of the cards from the set sitting on the Bible. A friend sent this to us and we love it! It can be used as a more organized system of tabbing your Bible with color-coded tabs that match the colors on the card, but we prefer to keep the cards in the front of a Bible that stays on our bookshelf. The usefulness of this tool is easy access to Bible verses when you need them in a teaching moment. The card pictured covers the topics of: anger, complaining, defiance, discouraged, disobedience, fear, and fighting. It can easily be used as “preventative” devotional type teaching as much as it helps when you need to address a heart issue in parenting counseling. The cost is $9 (plus shipping) is a great deal for the time it saves you from individually looking up verses from a concordance.
  3. Bible-based Parenting Books by Christian people can be as good as direct one-on-one parental counseling because you can refer to them again and again. You have to be wise concerning advice often evaluating the spiritual background of the author, it is best to find authors who share the same Biblical beliefs as you do. The book God has directed me to pick up again, Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young (book on the far bottom left of the photo). Their conservative viewpoint of helping parents build up boys to be masculine defenders who protect women and become godly leaders is helping me focus on our 11 year old and 10 year old sons’ needs. You can find their book at their website. *Note: Most of their Biblical references do not come from the KJV Bible and I use my Bible to read the verses.
  4. Reading the book of Proverbs is a regular way of helping children see and understand God’s view of the wise, simple, and scorners. Some people suggest reading a proverb a day to help gain wisdom. For our children we may only read 1-6 verses at a time and describe them in depth. S.M. Davis former pastor and creator of Solving Family Problems preached regular family revivals at our former church and we picked up a copy of the Picture Proverbs Deluxe DVD set he produces (DVD set seen on left middle of photo). On the DVD you view narrated slides of each Proverb complete with sound effects and many Biblical story pictures that can help the children learn a real application of the proverb being taught. He suggests watching one proverb a day with your family and looking up the Bible stories together as a family. There are some other free resources on his website that can be a blessing to you.
  5. Doorposts Resources are excellent for training children. In the photo you can view the Go to the Ant Chart and their book called “Plants Grown Up” which is a project book for helping sons grow into men. We also use their If-Then Chart in our home for rules and direct consequences. Go to the Ant Chart quickly refers you to common character problems that come up when children are supposed to be working and decide to come up with excuses or laziness. Just bring your child to the chart and point to the character issue and ask them to answer the question and then see a section of scripture that instructs them to do right. Plants Grown Up and its’ companion book for girls, Polished Cornerstones, contain projects on specific types of character to build on including memorizing scripture and community and home service. The topics include: virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity each with sub-topics to practically apply them. *Note: Not all of her resources are from the KJV Bible you have to do the job of checking the references. We have adjusted our charts to have a piece of paper cover the verses and have them written in KJV.
  6. Institute in Basic Life Principles Character Booklets are resources to use for family Bible time, individual study, or referencing when you see your child needs growth in an area. We currently have the first 6 booklets which cover: attentiveness, obedience, gratefulness, truthfulness, orderliness, and diligence. Each book highlights a specific animal God created and how its personal characteristics display the character trait being taught. My favorite part of each book is how it highlights how Jesus displayed the character trait when He lived on the earth. Then, each book teaches “how” you are truthful to different authorities in your life, your parents, your boss, civil authorities, etc. If you really want to go all out and make the character teaching really fun they have calendars, collector cards, coloring books, posters and hardback copies of the book sets.

What we have found is these character building resources really help us counsel our children in Biblical answers for character and sin problems. Many times our use of these resources is preventative, we believe in teaching before expecting specific behaviors. They are also corrective helping guides as we show the children when they have done wrong and help them see the problem from God’s perspective.

We also firmly believe the aim is to help our children train the heart to love God and understand His Word, have a good relationship with Him, and learn to reconcile with others they have sinned against. We spend a hefty amount of time counseling, more than I ever expected, coming back to the Word over and over again (betimes) to reinforce our expectations have a root in God’s truths.

The biggest and best part of character training and having good resources is seeing the investment come out of our children into their every day living. When they respond or do right in a temptation circumstance it is a blessing. Honestly it has also helped us be more consistent as parents and grow in our faith, helping us to be faithful and try to avoid hypocrisy as our parenting is open before all their eyes.

I pray and hope if you are focusing on building the inward person of your child you will remember to encourage them and instruct them to salvation in Christ. Unsaved children will struggle in character issues because the Holy Spirit is not naturally guiding them. Keep encouraging them to see their heart problems are sin related and they need the help of the Saviour.

When and if they are saved remember the Christian life is a step-by-step process. Children will excel in many areas and fall back, they will react to life each differently and sometimes forget your instruction. Faithfulness in training and counseling will help you. Our sin and Christian life as parents can also have a profound effect in their attitude and success in character growth. Guard your heart and keep it tender as you teach others for yourself.

May the Lord bless you and help you in your parenting and guide you to the resources that will best fit your family.

(No affiliate links or anything throughout this post, just great helps and information for YOU!)

How God Taught Me to Take Time for My Kids ~Guest Post~

Ministry Mamas, I want to share with you a special testimony from a fellow ministry wife and mother named Mindy. She has served in the ministry for 15 years. She now serves beside her husband in the state of Kansas. She and her husband have two beautiful daughters, ages 7 and 10.  Not only is she a busy lady in ministry she suffers from a connective tissue disorder that causes her joints to dislocate and causes discomfort that effects her life daily.

She is busy homeschooling, taking her daughters to therapy (her oldest has Aspergers, and her youngest was blessed with her genes). She also is busy with chores, cleaning the  her home, driving to music lessons, swim therapy, grocery shopping, and helping her husband with secretary projects. All of those things do not include the cuties she has at church! Does any of this sound familiar to you?? I am sure that you can relate in your own way.

She recently had a day in which God showed her some very valuable things through talking with her daughters that I think will touch your heart.

Here is her testimony in her own words:

My oldest daughter was having a hard time focusing on school and had a headache. I sent her upstairs to lay down and came up about ten minutes later to see how she was. I found her sobbing. I asked what was wrong and she began to unload. She was overwhelmed by all that we do every day. She said that life was so hard and that she NEVER got to have fun because she was always “on the go.” She explained she never had time to just play with her toys. I know she is not a selfish girl and that these were real problems and that she seemed extremely overwhelmed.

My 7-year-old was listening and began to cry too. She said that she has a bully in her heart and that she was fighting to keep a right spirit and not be mean to her sister or have a bad attitude. Her exact words were, “Why is life SO hard!?”

Wow! Talk about feeling like a big fat failure! I listened and absorbed what they were saying and was careful not to discount their very raw emotions. My first thought was “they are totally trying to get out of school work.” Then, the Holy Spirit smote my heart and somehow I knew they were really struggling.

The Dilemma

I know I am busy but I never thought that I was over-serving or over-committed. I didn’t know what to say… So, I prayed. I asked God for an “I love you” from Him just for my girls. I don’t want them to grow up and hate the ministry or despise homeschooling.

I Love You’s From God

When my husband got home that day he brought them flowers!! He had NO idea that they had a rough day so it was totally mind-blowing to them. He also took them out to do some errands with him, but before he left he decided to check the mail. In the mailbox was a letter from a visitor to our church that visited a few weeks earlier. She said she was so touched by the sermon and illustration that my husband told about my girls’ answered prayers that she wanted them to have a gift card for them to go shopping. At that point both of our girls burst into tears and began to thank God for the “hug” from heaven.

It is truly amazing the lengths that God will go through to prove Himself to my children! I am thankful for a God that cares enough to reach down and “hug” my two beautiful girls.

6 Lessons from a Busy Ministry Mama

Lessons I Would Like to Share with You

1. Don’t underestimate the pressure your children are under, even when they don’t display signs of stress.  This situation for us came out of no where.
2. Make more time for down time! Sometimes the kitchen floor can wait. Do something fun! Someone once told me, “It is more important to read a book to your child than to have your bed made.”
3. Listen to your children and encourage them to talk to you. Reassure them that they will not get in trouble for telling you they don’t like something or are struggling. You will never know the extent of the trouble they face unless they trust you enough to speak to you about it.
4. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Ladies, we can only do so much. I am not a perfect mom. I am limited to what I can do with them physically but I need to keep them physically and socially healthy. Go easy on yourself. You are only one person and the _______ can probably wait until tomorrow.
5. Do not be so focused on life that you forget those you live with! Sometimes I can be so goal-oriented that I forget that those two duties are running behind me as fast as their little leggies can go. Stop and smile, hug them and hold on for more than 45 seconds (that is when the stress release hormone is released). Tell them you love them several times a day.
6. Pray with them and for them. Pray for God to increase their faith. Remind them that any good thing that they have come from Jesus. When you have a blessing share it with them. If you have a prayer request, share it with them and then when it is answered, tell them about it.

A Final Note from The Ministry Mama

As I read Mindy’s testimony for the first time before approaching her to publish it here on The Ministry Mama, I was touched and convicted. As I reread it for editing purposes, I am touched again and again. She is right when she says that we should not get so busy in life and ministry that we forget those we live with.  I pray that as you may see a bit of yourself and your children in this personal story, that you would be able to also grow from her helpfulness. Mindy breaks it down so simply in easy lessons that we can each carry out into our lives.

If God speaks to you about this, please pray and ask Him now to help you do something specifically from this article today to help keep the lines of communication open between you and your children.

Hugs to you all, you are not alone in feeling too busy, just take time to push “pause” when you need to, and I believe that you can still be one of the greatest influences in your children’s lives!

I Don’t Want My Kids To Be a Rock Star

Rock Star

Please excuse me, while I interrupt my normal writing and step on top of this soap box for a few minutes…

I keep noticing shirts, books, music, television shows, highlight the “glamor” of a rock star lifestyle to my children. As a Christian mother, I have to say, I don’t want my kids to be a rock star. Seriously, I thought this rock star phase would be over by now, but scrolling in search of books I spied a toddler level book about teaching your children to be Bible rock stars. Toddlers being rock stars? and Bible rock stars at that!?

Why does this just seem so wrong? Because it is…I understand the phrase is popular, but the idea, to me is just not Bible-centered. The Bible does not have anything to do with being a rock star. There will be no Bible rock stars at my house.

You do not have to accept the world’s philosophy as it seems crammed down your throat in every store in the clothing and toy section. It isn’t enough that they target young and older adults to find acceptance through singing  songs that appeal to the “old” man (Romans 6:6). But little kids!? It is just another way for Satan to begin grooming children for his desires for their future.

Frankly it all boils down to parents in my generation and what they like. Whatever they like they give to their kids. It doesn’t matter whether it is Biblical, it matters whether it’s cool, popular, and most importantly nostalgic.

Children many times do not know any better. They are young and innocent and will accept things without knowing the meaning behind them. Many parents will guffaw at the thought of me writing about this, but honestly, if our children were to leave home and pursue a lifestyle that embraced the world and threw their “Christian upbringing” behind, then they would hit their knees in prayer pleading for their return. Or maybe like many people I’ve seen, they would applaud their efforts for using the talent God had given them in almost every other venue and not for the Lord in their own church.

My Concern

Minimizing the subtle tactics of Satan, may be maximizing your child’s potential for not loving God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Yes, I realize, we can make mountains out of mole hills and mole hills out of mountains, but what will it take for many of us to stand up and protect our children from society’s pressure of making them the product opposite of God’s plans for their lives?

A toddler will not necessarily understand the board book they are reading says “Baby Rock Star,” but it’s the next step of buying the rock star shirt, doll or Lego set, or the fast paced guitar strumming video game. Are kids viewing these things as acceptable because we allow it little by little? It takes simple choices of seeing the rock star mentality creeping in and eliminating the influences. It may be that you have to redirect your child at the shopping rack, toy department, or video game area or replace things you already have at home that are promoting  things contrary to God’s Word. The Holy Spirit will lead and guide you if you will allow Him to.

Changing Our “Inside” Influence

Most of us do not have to make huge changes in our lives to ensure the safety of our children when it comes to outside influences… but when it comes to the inside influence of ourselves we make exceptions. We need to be reading the Bible and applying its principles of protecting and guiding our children AND ourselves. We are the guardians of our children, the fences of protection and shields of their hearts, minds, and bodies. But how can we protect them to the fullest sense if we are allowing those things into our own lives by the music we listen to, places we go, and things we watch, and items we buy?

But That’s Not All

It really isn’t all about society’s rock star exaltation, there are all types of lures that Satan is using to entice our children. You may not battle Guitar Hero but you may battle the exaltation of sports, fashion, extremely popular children’s movies or books, you fill in the blank. The enticements are not just coming from outside sources though. C’mon, too often they are originating from us, as parents, and our indulgences instead of our holiness.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” I don’t want my kids to be a rock star because I don’t want them to be adult rock stars. Their hearts require my diligence, because out of those little hearts come the issues of life. God forbid that my negligence in allowing something that was even borderline between righteousness and unrighteousness would be where the lure of their downfall began.
Consider the Biblical example of Abraham and Lot. Where did Lot get a taste for Sodom? In Egypt where Abraham took him in one of his flights in fear.

Many people would roll their eyes and say, “It’s all about balance, letting kids be kids and do the things that kids do.” We need to be making the deposit of Biblical influences greater in our children’s lives greater than the weight of the world’s influences. You’re right, it’s about the type of balance. Our child’s balance should contain so much of God that the world’s influences will never outweigh the amount of love they have for the Lord.

The Christian Life is Best because of Christ

I want my kids to know that the Christian life is more exciting than a rock star’s life!

A rock star’s music speaks to the flesh, God’s music speaks to the heart.

A rock star lives a life in front of people lonely for true friendships. A child of God serves people and always has God to walk beside them and good Christian friendships too.

A rock star seeks to please others through their fashion and music. A child of God seeks to please God through their obedience.

A rock star uses money for indulgences. A child of God earns money to take care of their responsibilities and minister to others.

A rock star loves the roar of the crowd at a concert. A child of God can feel content with serving God even when they are alone. They can feel satisfaction from hearing the still small voice of God throughout their lifetime and someday, Lord willing, will hear “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”

A rock star lives in pursuit of personal gain. A child of God lives in pursuit of God. Period.

A rock star uses his talents to woo people to buy albums so they can get money in their bank to fulfill their heart’s desires. A child of God uses his talents to woo people to Jesus Christ and minister to the hearts of those who are already saved. God then fulfills their heart’s desires.

My Final Thoughts

We are not superior to any type of people who choose to live a rock star lifestyle. But for the grace of God, I could be in that situation doing that very thing. Righteousness is not even obtained through what we do or do not do. It is given to us at salvation in exchange for our sinfulness. Our children do not know the perils that lie ahead of them in this life or the tactics Satan will try to maneuver against them. Please guard your own heart so that you can be wise enough to guard the hearts of your child(ren).

I will get off my soap box now and walk quietly down the sidewalk of life again… until I see another Bible rock star book for toddlers. (wink, wink)