by Udeme Anosike
Most Christian parents would agree that raising a family requires wisdom, understanding, and knowledge from God. Family is His creation and He alone has what it takes to make it work. Thankfully, we have access to His wisdom, in Christ, and can use it liberally so that our families will be blessed.
In this article, I write about the God-given beauty and uniqueness of our children. I trust that as you read and prayerfully consider the points discussed, the Holy Spirit will inspire and guide you into some of God’s blessings for your family.
Every person whom God creates is wonderfully made. People are assigned beautiful personalities by Him to match the purposes He intends them to fulfill here on earth. But one may ask, “If God made everyone beautifully, why are there so many nasty people in the world?” I believe this is because God’s treasures come in earthen vessels. When they are born, people are like diamonds in the rough; the treasures in them have to be refined through God’s wisdom and grace for their true beauty to emerge.
I Don’t Think So
Many parents never get to appreciate the God-given beauty in their children. Sometimes this is because they have their own ideas about what their children should be and try to make them fit that mold instead of God’s. For example, a child given an easy-going and creative personality for the purpose of fulfilling a career or ministry in music may meet the disapproval of parents who would prefer him or her to have the type of personality suited to being a physician. These parents may become disappointed because their child does not become what they work so hard to make him or her. The child on the other hand may feel frustrated and become insecure as a result of not measuring up to the parents’ standards.
Every individual has a God-given temperament. This temperament could be a reflection of one or both parents, the grandparents, or other relatives. Each temperament has its own strengths and weaknesses; upbringing and life experiences also have a profound effect on how temperaments turn out. Christians who submit to the Holy Spirit find that He refines the strengths and transforms the weaknesses of their temperaments over time.
It has been found that temperaments show up in children as early as two to three years of age. This means that early in life, parents have the opportunity to encourage a child’s unique strengths and teach him or her how to manage personality weaknesses. For example, some children are natural leaders. They like to take charge of tasks and people. They have the ability to set goals and see them through effectively. However, they may be unduly demanding and have a tendency to be inconsiderate of the needs of others as they try to achieve their own goals. With such children, parents need to encourage their determination, leadership, and follow-through abilities. However, they should teach sensitivity, consideration for others, and submission of their aspirations to God.
Other children may be intelligent, thorough, and committed to the people or activities they engage in. They may enjoy striving for excellence in the things they do. However, they may be prone to a negative self-image and this may make them overly sensitive to correction and criticism. They could also be pessimistic, overly critical, and moody. With such children, parents need to encourage their intellectual abilities, diligence, and sense of commitment. They also need to teach them to think and speak positively about themselves and others. A good understanding of God’s unconditional love is necessary to help children with this temperament overcome their negative self-image.
Some children may be boisterous, entertaining, and sociable. However, they may be somewhat disorganized and have a hard time focusing on important matters. Being people lovers, they may also be easily influenced and swayed by their peer. With such children, parents should encourage their liveliness and love of people. However, through prayer and instruction they should teach attention to the important aspects of life. They should also teach some degree of organization but not expect perfection! It is particularly important for children with this temperament to be grounded in God so that they source their direction from Him and not from negative external influences.
Some children are extremely peaceful and avoid conflict at all costs. Children with this temperament are quite laid back and may regularly slip into passivity. With them, parents need to encourage the peaceful attitude but teach them to work through, not run away from, necessary conflict. They also need to prayerfully break them out of the mold of passivity and procrastination.
These simply described basic temperaments are not mutually exclusive. In other words, children may show different combinations of them. The descriptions are also not exhaustive, so further reading is recommended. Their purpose here is to illustrate the diversity of temperaments that exist among children and how parents can positively influence key temperaments.
Our Role as Parents
The Bible says to “train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent] and when he is old he will not depart from it.” This is primarily the parent’s job. We are God-appointed teachers for our children. The Lord expects us to teach them His ways through instruction and example, and train them in a way that enhances — not changes or destroys — the temperaments He has put in them.
Although we are responsible for teaching and training them, it is God that actually makes our children fruitful in Christ. This is similar to Paul’s experience with the Corinthian Christians of which he said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God [all the while] gave the increase.” Paul was used by God to birth and raise spiritual children among the Gentiles. He preached to them, taught the doctrines of Christ, exhorted them, and rebuked them when needed. Thereafter, he prayed and committed them to God, trusting Him to bring forth Christlike fruit in their lives.
Our role is similar: we cannot cause our children to bring forth fruits of righteousness (only God can). However, we can — and God expects us to — consistently teach them His ways by instruction and example. We should carefully align our training with their God-given temperaments, encouraging their strengths and helping them deal with their weaknesses. We should pray for them frequently, asking the Lord to bring fruitfulness to the seeds we sow in their lives. Finally, we should trust God concerning them. Coming to this place of trust entails believing that God is deeply interested in how they turn out and that He will faithfully keep and bless them, as we release them to Him.
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- Psalm 139:14
- Beverly LaHaye, Understanding Your Child’s Temperament (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 1997), 23–46
- Proverbs 22:6 Amplified Bible
- 1 Corinthians 3:6 Amplified Bible
- 2 Timothy 1:12; Jude v. 24–25