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By Susan Hines-Brigger

Being a Good Christian Counts


Celebrating the Important Things in Life
Helping Form Christian Character
For Teens: WWJD?
For Kids: There Once Was a Good Christian

In February, my 10-year-old niece, Samantha, came home from school with a certificate for exemplifying good Christian character. She was one of only nine kids in her grade to be selected for the award. Her mother was ecstatic. Sam didn’t understand what the big deal was.

My sister tried to explain to her what an honor it was to be recognized for being a good Christian. “That means,” she told Sam, “that you try to live your life as Jesus did.”

“But it’s not like I got one of the awards for academics or attendance or best in gym,” Sam rebutted. To her, those were the awards that meant something.

I suspect the majority of kids in Sam’s school would react in a similar way.

Celebrating the Important Things in Life

All too often as a society we tend to overlook the importance of good, Christian character in kids. Grades, athletic abilities, looks, possessions and other things seem to rank higher in our priorities than what type of character we’re instilling in our children.

I can remember that when my sisters and I were growing up, whenever we did or said something hurtful or unkind, my parents wouldn’t say, “That wasn’t a nice thing to do,” but rather, “That wasn’t a very Christian thing to do.” It sounds like a simple and honest statement, but the message behind it was huge.

Perhaps nowhere else is our call to live out our Christian faith clearer than in Chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel. There Jesus preaches that those who will enter his Father’s kingdom are those who lived out their Christian faith—“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (v. 40).

Helping Form Christian Character

Study after study has shown that kids learn the majority of their morals and ethics from what they see and hear at home. It makes sense, therefore, that if we want to raise our children to be good Christians we should focus on everyday attitudes and choices. Here are some suggestions for ways to encourage Christian behavior in ourselves and our children:

Set an example. Author and Unitarian minister Robert Fulghum wrote, “Don’t worry that your children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” What type of example are you setting for your children through your own words and actions?

Read the Bible. The Bible is full of examples encouraging us to act in a Christian way toward our friends—and even our enemies. Read these stories and then reflect on ways you can exemplify them in your life.

Praise Christian behavior. Just as you would acknowledge an “A” on a test or a job well done at a recital or sporting event, let your child know how proud you are if he or she handled a particular situation in a Christian manner.

Ask God for help. Sometimes it’s a struggle to act in a Christian way. Perhaps you’re having a bad day, or someone did something to make you so mad that you just don’t feel like being Christian toward him or her. Those are very normal and valid reactions. During those times remind yourself and your family to rely on God for help and guidance.

Provide opportunities for Christian service. As a family, take part in projects or events to help others. For instance, volunteer at the local food bank, offer to deliver meals to those who are homebound through a local program such as Meals on Wheels, or volunteer for a day to work on a Habitat for Humanity home.

Next Month: World Youth Day 2002

For Teens: WWJD?

I’m sure that most of you are aware of the WWJD—What Would Jesus Do?—trend that emerged a couple of years ago. It grew out of the simple premise that people should ask themselves the question “What Would Jesus Do?” before they decide, do or say anything.

The teen years can often be the most challenging of a person’s life. Often the struggle to be accepted can place you in tough situations, where sometimes being a good Christian isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

For instance, when you hear a rumor or some gossip about others, do you defend them if you know it’s not true? Or do you keep quiet, go along with everyone else and pass the story on because it’s too good not to, regardless of the people it’s about? What if the rumor was about you? What do you think Jesus would do?

For Kids: There Once Was a Good Christian

In the Bible, the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) tells about treating others with mercy. Read the story, or have someone read it to you, and then, using that story as a guide, write your own story or draw a picture of a modern-day example.

For instance, perhaps there was a time when you didn’t feel like sharing your things with someone else, but did anyway because you knew it was the right thing to do. Or perhaps you saw kids being picked on during recess and came to their assistance. Draw a picture or write a story telling about your experience.

Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at

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