Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What Is Character?

“Character is how you act over and over again when you think only your family is looking.”

One definition of character that shows us that character is simply qualities (good or bad) that a person exhibits is “The combination of qualities, or features that distinguishes one person, group, or thing from another.” Thus, when we think of character, we should consider that a person could have good “qualities or features” or bad “qualities or features.”

Our personal favorite “real” definition (as opposed to the ones we make up!) is “the stable and distinctive qualities built into an individual’s life that determine his or her responses regardless of circumstances.” The last three words point to our teaching of character training in the Christian family. That is, that a person’s true character (good or bad qualities) will be revealed in various situations—and the qualities that the individual is “characterized by” (or known for) are those that are exhibited over and over again, regardless of what situation he or she finds himself in.

Of course, there are maxims for character everywhere with the popular one being “Character is what you are like when you think nobody is looking.” In our belief that character is formed within the walls of the home and in the midst of the familial relationships, our maxim differs somewhat from that one: “Character is how you act over and over again when you think only your family is looking.”

In other words, how you behave in your own home over and over again—how you treat your siblings, your children, and your spouse; what types of responses you have to the situations you find yourself in; etc., are truly what you are like. These are the qualities that you are “characterized by,” or known by (at least by those who see you when others do not).

The whole idea of being “characterized by” something is important to note in the character training of our children. When someone mentions one of my children, the qualities that he or she mentions (or at least thinks) are those qualities that my child is “characterized by.” We tell our children that they will never be perfect—and we do not expect perfection. However, they should be “characterized by” (or known by) good qualities rather than bad.

In that regard, character is “the qualities that you are ‘characterized by’ within your own home.” And the goal in Christian parenting should be to raise children who are “characterized by” exhibiting the character of Jesus Christ at home (primarily) and everywhere (eventually)—because they are first and foremost, followers of Jesus Christ.

Follow us this year for a year of character training help. Believe it or not, we really do have a year’s worth of things to say about character training! Smile…Think of it as “Character Training Workshop in Ten or Fifteen Minutes a Day”! Thanks for joining us!

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