“You are the light of the world. a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 NKJV
All parents want their kids to get along with others, form meaningful friendships and positively impact the world around them. For Christian parents, that means we want our kids to exhibit Christ-like character traits that will draw others in and ultimately, to Christ. We hope our children, by the time they are tweens and teens, will be caring, kind, and compassionate—allowing the light of Christ to shine through them to the world. But that doesn’t just magically happen. Instead, we have to focus on developing godly attitudes and actions by parenting intentionally.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Is my child a good friend to others? Is he or she welcoming and inclusive to those of all sizes, shapes, races and ethnicities? Is he or she well-liked at school? What exactly are the traits of a good friend? What can I do to foster Christ-like character traits in my child?
Below are 5 traits kids need to impact their corner of the world:
Approachablity – If your teen is to exhibit Christ-like character that impacts others then they must be approachable. This means, they are not a part of an exclusive clique. They may still, of course, have a core group of friends, but other students should know that they are welcome to come be a part—whether that means joining the conversation, or sitting at the lunch table. My daughter would say that from the time she was very young, I have told her not to leave anyone out but instead, to be a friend to all. And when it comes to friendship, a smile is our greatest asset. It says, “I like you. You are welcome here. You are valuable.” Encourage your child to smile at others rather than to scowl or turn their gaze downward when interacting with them.
Trustworthiness – A good friend is one who can be trusted. That means if a fellow student shares a confidence with them, they will keep it to themselves. (Better yet, they will offer to pray with them about the issue!) Teach your child what the Bible says about gossip—it’s not good. Your child should know not to spread rumors about others and to walk away from situations where that is occurring. Be a good example for them in this area, as well. We know that children are much more likely to copy what we do than to heed what we say.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 NIV
Kindness – Is your teen kind to others? Many teens today are starving for kindness. In high schools around the country, bullying is rampant and self-centeredness is the order of the day. A kind student can have a real impact in their corner of the world. Teens are faced with numerous opportunities each day to show kindness—from helping a friend study for a test, to walking a new student to their next class or engaging with a student who is standing alone. As parents we can not only talk to our kids about how to show kindness, but we can model it—to neighbors, strangers, and others in need.
“By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 NKJV
Encouragement – The teen years can be challenging, for sure: hormones wreaking havoc on emotions, complicated boy/girl relationships, pressure to perform academically and athletically; in this stressful environment, there isn’t a teen alive who doesn’t need encouragement. Therefore, a person who encourages others is a person who will not lack for friends. Help your teen get into the habit of uplifting others with encouraging words, notes and texts. For example, if your teen mentions that a friend is having trouble at home, suggest that they send an encouraging text or scripture verse, or perhaps, invite them over to hang out. Athletic teams are a great place to practice being an encourager. There your child can cheer on teammates and encourage those who are temporarily “off their game” or injured. Webster’s Dictionary defines encouragement as: “The action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope.” I love that definition! Through encouragement, your teen can definitely point their peers to the giver of hope, himself, Jesus Christ.
Joy/Positivity – I often get compliments from others on my teenage daughter’s character. The thing I hear the most is the fact that she is so joyful and positive. She has the kind of magnetic countenance that draws people in. That fact is certainly a blessing for her and for us, as well. In fact, since she is a believer, the joy she exhibits so naturally is the inner joy that only comes from Jesus Christ. It’s the light in the darkness spoken of in the Bible. Negativity will not draw people to you—it will repel them! Teach your kids that joy and positivity is a choice they make each and every day. Praise your kids for exhibiting a positive and joyful attitude at home. While you’re at it, be an example of a “glass-half-full” parent!
“I have told you this that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:11-12 NIV
Is it really possible to raise an impactful kid?
It would seem impossible that our teens could actually embody all of the godly character trait discussed above. And it would be—if they relied only on their own power. However, believing teens have within them the power of the Holy Spirit which allows them to be good people… shining lights… faithful friends. The fruit of the spirit is waiting to blossom forth in your teen, drawing others to the light of Christ, impacting the kingdom of God in a mighty way—from the classroom to the athletic field, and even to the world at large.
Let’s encourage godly character traits by: talking about them often, praising them when they occur, and modeling them in front of our children. In doing so we can help our kids become faithful, encouraging friends in a world that desperately needs to see the light of Christ.
“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV