Not all of the wrong your children do is a direct rebellion to authority; much of the wrong is the result of a lack of character.Paul D. Tripp
A wise person once said, “character is who we are as Christians and what we are called to be because of our relationship with Christ.” It is in life’s most difficult times that character is not only shaped but revealed. Over the last few months we have interacted with multiple people going through incredibly challenging times as it relates to their physical health. It is interesting to see how those health battles have revealed so much about the character of each individual. Some trust God with an absolute certainty of His purposes in their suffering while others have become angry or embittered towards God with the belief that they do not deserve what they are going through. We say this not to make light of any circumstance (because all of these situations have been painful and challenging) but to highlight the difference that is seen in those who are confident in who they are in Christ and what God is calling them to walk through as compared to those who are not.
In this chapter on Character, Paul Tripp makes an intriguing connection between a person’s worship and a person’s character from Romans 1.
Tripp says, “notice the connection between worship (“since you did not see fit to acknowledge God”) and character (the poor character list that follows below—see Romans 1:28-32)…Your children don’t so much need character management as they need worship realignment.”
In last week’s post, we discussed how we are prone to foolishness (denial of God and worship of self) over wisdom (humble dependence on God). So often in life, we place ourselves (instead of God) at the center of everything. This is not only the height of foolishness, it is the misappropriation of worship. Although we don’t make actual idols and bow down to ourselves, we act as if the world revolves around our whims and desires.
In this chapter, Tripp connects that lack of reverence for God (or misplaced worship) to the character that we display in our everyday lives. Pulling from Romans 1, Tripp identifies insightful parenting questions and responses to address character issues:
Envy—How often do you have to deal with the conflict that results because one sibling is jealous of another?
Strife—Is there ever a day when you don’t have to deal with some kind of problem with your children?
Deceit—How often are our children less-than-honest about what they have said or done?
Gossip—Do you find your children being regularly seduced by the temptation to talk negatively about someone to someone else?
Insolent—To be insolent is to be rude and unmannerly. What parent doesn’t have to deal with this on a regular basis?
Haughty—It’s the pride in the hearts of our children that again and again makes parenting them difficult.
Boastful—Boastfulness is pride with an open mouth. Our children are way too comfortable with announcing that they are better, smarter, prettier, faster, stronger, more likable, etc…
Foolish—There is never a day when somehow, someway you are not confronted with the foolishness of one of your children.
Heartless—It is sad to see how heartless our children can be in their responses to one another.
It’s easy for us to read passages like this and think we (and our children) are pretty good compared to the rest of the world. However, that only reveals our misplaced worship. When we truly set our eyes on God, we begin to see ourselves in our true brokenness. As Christian parents, we must set our eyes on Christ each day to heal our brokenness and as a result, guide our children in setting their eyes on Christ each day in the same way. May God enable us to lead our children in worship in such a way that naturally shapes their character.
Hilton Head Christian Academy‘s Life+ blog was created to equip today’s Christian parents with practical tools, thought provoking content, and honest conversation.
This fall, we look forward to parenting alongside all of you through a new series based on a life-giving book by Pastor Paul Tripp: Parenting: 14 Gospel principles that can radically change your family.
Each week we will unpack them chapter by chapter right here on the Life+ blog. We hope you’ll grab a copy and dive in with us, taking time to discuss each principle with your own family and the people God has placed in your life.