In Part One, we examined the first four of seven character builders you can teach your grandchildren: Good reading habits, family heritage, personal skills, and manners. Here are the final three:
5. Teach virtues like integrity, honesty and hard work.
Virtues are not learned by lecturing, but by modeling and making the most of teachable moments. For example, what do you do when your grandchild’s birthday moves her beyond the child discount age at a theme park or restaurant, and she says, “Oh, just tell them I’m still twelve”? Modeling integrity is doing the right thing, and using the opportunity to explain that, while it may seem harmless enough to falsify their age, integrity demands doing what is right, not what you can get away with.
Teaching the value of hard work is important in this time of immediate gratification. Make sure your grandchildren understand that working hard gives glory to God. He created work for us to do as His image-bearers. Work is a visible expression of responsible, faithful and diligent living, and that we are made in His image. He also works both in creation and in our lives.
True, hard work can become an idol if it’s about looking good or accumulating worldly treasures. Teach them that worthwhile things are the fruit of hard work for God’s glory. Laziness does not bring glory to God. Neither does working for selfish gain. Both are rooted in self-centeredness, not the good of other. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that those in Christ were “created to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do”, and all to the praise of His glory.
6. Teach them about beauty.
Find creative ways to teach your grandchildren to appreciate beauty, not only in art, but in every area of life. In a world so filled with dark and corrupted images, we need to help our grandchildren discover the wonder and delight of true beauty. Here are a couple of ideas to stimulate your thinking:
- Visit a Botanical Gardens where you can explore the wonder and beauty of God’s glory in what He has made. Help them see the wonder of all that God has made.
- Call for a tech fast when your grandchildren come to visit (you can determine the length of time from a couple of hours to a whole day). Prepare some activities like planting a garden, building a birdhouse, painting a picture, or going on a hike. Talk about all the beauty God has created for our enjoyment.
7. Teach them the Gospel of Christ.
Look for opportunities to talk about why we need a Savior. Remind them of God’s lavish, deep love that sent Jesus to the Cross to pay a debt we could not pay for our sin. Teach them Christ not only saves us FROM something (the consequences and bondage of sin), but also FOR something—the freedom to joyfully live to the glory of God by living rightly (godly character), and telling others this good news. That’s what it means to be made alive in Christ.
Well, that’s my seven suggestions. I would remind you that character is not about behavior modification. It is about a transformation of the heart and mind that only God, through Christ’s atonement, and the indwelling Spirit can perform. What we teach through our walk and our talk allows us to become the conduit through which God transforms a spiritually dead life into a new life marked by righteousness and godliness.
We work hard to make sure our grandchildren know the truth and walk in it, but it is God who does it in us. “I [Paul] worked harder than all of them—yet, not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (I Corinthians 15:10). May it be so for you as well.
GRANDPAUSE: [Prayer] is the atmosphere of work. It is what gives work its supernatural effectiveness. –John Piper