How God Builds Character in Our Kids
By Jeannie St. John Taylor
So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Jeremiah 18:3-4
For three years, I threw pottery on a wheel and sold my creations at art shows. So I know why the potter in Jeremiah squashed the jar into a lump. It wasn’t capricious, and he didn’t want to destroy his work; I can guarantee it. He had to smash the jar because of something inherently wrong with the clay.
Every potter has high hopes for each pot he begins. But sometimes as he presses into the lump of clay and pulls upward, thinning the walls to shape the pot, things go wrong. He’ll feel the bump, bump, bump of an air bubble beneath his fingertips, or he’ll detect a hard lump of limestone.
He knows the clay is flawed, and he must deal with the defect. If he ignores it, the pot will gradually become misshapen and may eventually fly off the wheel. If he manages to turn out a decent-looking pot despite the flaw, the pot will likely explode during firing.
So he stops the wheel and pierces the air bubble with a needlelike tool called a “pricker,” then presses out the air. Or he keeps turning the pot and uses the pricker to cut off the lip just below the hard lump, removing the flawed portion. After that, he can proceed to shape the pot.
But if the flaw is close to the base of the pot, he may not be able to salvage it, and the entire pot has to be squashed.
Because God says he’s the potter and we’re the clay, I think we can parallel the air bubbles and lumps in clay to our own character failings. When God perceives them in us, he corrects us in much the same way the potter deals with the clay: He has to prick us, cut out the defects, and press us before he can shape us into people of godly character.
Fortunately, God not only corrects you and me, he loves our children enough to correct and shape them into people of character, too. Though that can be hard for parents to watch, we should welcome the times God chooses to discipline our kids by letting them suffer the natural consequences of their choices.
We want children of character.
What Parents Can Do
Since the easiest way to get rid of character flaws is by reading the Bible and applying it to our lives, read your Bible daily.
Early on, teach your children to understand and obey God’s Word.
When God disciplines you, accept it. Thank him for forming you into a person of godly character, because people of character tend to raise children with character.
Recognize when God is disciplining your children, and don’t get in his way by excusing their behavior or trying to rescue them.
Prayer for Myself
Lord, I give you permission to correct any defects in my character. I will accept your discipline even though I know it will seem unpleasant at the time. Keep me from interfering when you correct my children.
Prayer for My Children
Teach my children to learn for your Word rather than having to suffer from their mistakes.
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Copyright © 2007 by Jeannie St. John Taylor. Excerpt taken from Culture-Proof Kids: Building Character in Your Children, published by Living Ink Books, AMG Publishers. Used by permission.
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