Character Development

Two phrases that prick my ears:

“That makes Jesus happy”

“That makes Jesus sad”

It just irks me to hear people say these things to little children. Maybe it’s because of the picture of Jesus that such phrases are creating in their little minds. Maybe it’s because I sense a hint of defiance coming on. Maybe it’s because coercion is upsetting to me.

Since I have the privilege of being an older mom and have worked with young children for many years, I have had the opportunity to think about these phrases – and others like them. Watching other parents struggle with their little ones, I have had the “bird’s eye” view advantage and asked myself: “How would I handle that differently?”

Finally my opportunity arrived. Since my daughter was born, I have been telling her that true happiness comes only from Jesus. If we love Jesus and obey Him we will be truly happy.

I thank God for that piece of wisdom because we are at a time now when I am needing to remind my daughter that God has instructed children to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1; Exodus 20:12).  I do not want to neglect my duty of training my child to keep the way of the Lord.

At times we falter. Love and affluence cause us to indulge. At other times, exhaustion and stress cause our tempers to be demanding. Through it all, though, I am experiencing the power of prayer in these situations. The God of Heaven really does care! He really does help! All I have to do is ask and submit.

Mainstream Christianity teaches young children about Jesus, the Bible and Christian values; all good and nece

ssary. The core of an individual, though, is one’s personal will: The selfish or selfless will. Certainly, we want our children to have a selfless will. The process of developing such a character is a lifelong struggle; there is no phase. It is the day by day, moment by moment remembrance that our only hope for true happiness lies in our willingness to rely on and submit to Christ. This is the first lesson young children need to learn – reliance and submission to the loving parent.

© 2010, C. Gillan Byrne

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1White, E. G. (1954/1982). Ways in Which Character is Ruined (Chapter Title). In E. G. White Publications (Eds.), Child Guidance. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association.


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