“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something
is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”
Bad company corrupts good character.
I Corinthians 15: 33
We talk to our children about their friends. They may be initially attracted to someone because that child attends the same church, plays the same sport, has cute clothes or makes everyone laugh. But, do those things make a person wise?
He who walks with the wise is wise.
Proverbs 13: 20a
We want our children to be wise, so we help them recognize what makes others wise, making it possible to pick good company. We need to weigh character when it comes to picking who to get close to. Our children are encouraged to be friendly to everyone, to see needs and help meet them; yet, when it comes to picking a close chum, we promote evaluating character.
George Washington expressed a similar view:
"Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence."
Some of the questions we use to help guide our children in walking with the wise are:
- Is the peer respectful to their parents?
- Do they hunger for God’s word?
- Are they teachable?
- Do they share?
- Are they a servant?
- What do they feed their hearts and minds?
- Will they spur you onto higher ground or pull you toward the
We also look for character when we are looking for a church. We don’t always get to choose the authority we are under, but finding a new church is one area in which we do…and we talk this over with our children.
We moved to Wisconsin six years ago and had to find a church. As we started visiting, we explained to our children that the first condition was that the church had to be Bible believing. To help us discern this, we read their doctrine online and visited the church’s library to see what they have. The library is very telling of what perspective a church is coming from.
Next, we wanted a warm church that lived out God’s command to love one another. The few churches that didn’t talk to us at all on our first visit were not for us.
After initially liking a church, we would evaluate the leadership based on the verses in I Timothy 3. Are they above reproach, husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to much wine, gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, able to manage own family, have respectful children, not a recent convert and have a good
reputation with outsiders
Our main concern was not where the pastor went to seminary or how eloquent he was; we wanted a leader with godly character.
Paul wrote more letters in the New Testament than any other man. He said, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
Paul also says, “I may not be a trained speaker,” (II Cor. 11:6) and he was accused of being “’timid’ when face to face with you, but ‘bold’ when away!” (II Cor. 10:1)
Although God had dramatically changed Paul, people still wanted a showy teacher. We are purposing to help our children discern Truth from show, and to cling to that which God says matters.
Now that we are entering an election year, we are talking to our children again about looking at a leader’s character. Statistics show that:
character. Statistics show that:
-- The “best looking” candidate has the greatest chance of winning.-- Really?! Yep, man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart. Just as when David was chosen as king, his brothers appeared to be better choices outwardly, but God chose the boy whose heart was after His.
-- Charisma wins a lot of votes also. It is not what is said, but how it is said that people tend to hear. We are to let no one deceive us with empty words. It takes real focus to listen to the real message and not get caught up in the emotion of presentation. Charm is deceptive.
--Other factors like being from home state, going to same college, being an avid skier (or whatever hobby fits), shaking my hand, onto a hundred other little things will gain some votes. These are just appearances. John 7: 24 “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment!”
--Pet topics will definitely influence many. This isn’t all bad; we must choose something solid to base our support on. Yet, does a president’s view on saving dolphins really tell us how he will run our country? We mustn’t let a pet topic be a distraction that blurs seeing the character of a man.
Again, we want our children to view a leader of our country through the same eyes they would view a leader of our church. Does he have the character laid out in I Timothy 3? Godly character will serve our country well. Our forefathers sought the Lord and we desire to raise our children to value those same principles.
"The great pillars of all government…[are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible." Patrick Henry
Whether it is friends, churches or political leaders, evaluation is best based on character. God looks at the heart, so this is a skill worth polishing in our own lives. When we, as parents, try to make decisions based on character, we can also verbalize our reasoning to our children. This communication on prioritizing character will influence the next generation toward godly thinking.