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Why Should We Teach Our Children Character?

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
Our children must possess godly character in order to impact their world for Jesus Christ.

Family Counseling Ministries -

In the 15th segment of a 15-part series on family worship, Dr. Don Dunlap encourages parents to enthusiastically teach their children the importance of godly character. He urges mothers and fathers to take time during family worship, on a regular basis, to choose one of the following 49 character qualities and discuss not only the definition and its opposite, but ways in which family members can demonstrate that quality throughout the course of the week.

It seems that nearly every day we hear about students cheating openly in our colleges and universities. What’s more disconcerting is the fact that many professors look the other way when this occurs. In the workplace employers often search in vain for employees who demonstrate such qualities as loyalty, honesty, diligence and thoroughness. Finding someone qualified to fill vacant job positions seems to be far less difficult than hiring someone with proven character.

Good character is sorely lacking in every arena of our society. It is with this fact in mind that we, as parents, must make an all-out effort to train our sons and daughters to have godly character. The following is a list of 49 character qualities that appear in the Bible. Each quality is defined, the opposite of the quality is listed and an accompanying scripture verse is provided.

It is a good idea to concentrate on one or two of these character qualities each week, during family worship time. Emphasize the importance of utilizing every opportunity to demonstrate these particular qualities throughout the course of the week to one another and to other people we encounter each day.

Character Qualities with Opposites & Scripture Verses


ALERTNESS vs. Unawareness

Being aware of those things that are taking place around me so that I can have the right responses to them.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38



Showing the worth of a person by giving undivided attention to his words and emotions.

“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” Hebrews 2:1


AVAILABILITY vs. Self-centeredness

Making my own schedule and priorities secondary to the wishes of those whom I am serving.

“I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 2:20-21


BOLDNESS vs. Fearfulness

Confidence that what I have to say or do is true, right and just in the sight of God.

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” Acts 4:29



Knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing right actions.

“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” Proverbs 19:2


COMPASSION vs. Indifference

Investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others.

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” I John 3:17


CONTENTMENT vs. Covetousness

Realizing God has provided everything that I need for my present happiness.

“And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” I Timothy 6:8


CREATIVITY vs. Under-achievement

Approaching a need, a task, or an idea from a new perspective.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2


DECISIVENESS vs. Double-mindedness

The ability to finalize difficult decisions based on the will and ways of God.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5


DEFERENCE vs. Rudeness

Limiting my freedom in order not to offend the tastes of those whom God has called me to serve.

“It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to stumble.” Romans 14:21


DEPENDABILITY vs. Inconsistency

Fulfilling what I consented to do even if it means unexpected sacrifice.

“In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; He swears to his own hurt, and does not change.” Psalm 15:4


DETERMINATION vs. Faint-heartedness

Purposing to accomplish God’s goals in God’s time, regardless of the opposition.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” II Timothy 4:7-8


DILIGENCE vs. Slothfulness

Visualizing each task as a special assignment from the Lord and using all my energies to accomplish it.

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” Colossians 3:23


DISCERNMENT vs. Judgment

The God-given ability to understand why things happen.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” I Samuel 16:7


DISCRETION vs. Simple-mindedness

The ability to avoid words, actions, and attitudes which could result in undesirable consequences.

“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” Proverbs 22:3


ENDURANCE vs. Giving up

The inward strength to withstand stress to accomplish God’s best.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9



Expressing with my spirit, the joy of my soul.

“Be joyful always; …Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” I Thessalonians 5:16,19


FAITH vs. Presumption

Visualizing what God intends to do in a given situation and acting in harmony with it.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1


FLEXIBILITY vs. Resistance

Not setting my affections on ideas or plans which could be changed by God or others.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2


FORGIVENESS vs. Rejection

Clearing the record of those who have wronged me and allowing God to love them through me.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32


GENEROSITY vs. Stinginess

Realizing that all I have belongs to God and using it for His purposes.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” II Corinthians 9:6


GENTLENESS vs. Harshness

Showing personal care and concern in meeting the needs of others.

“But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.” Thessalonians 2:7


GRATEFULNESS vs. Ungratefulness

Making known to God and others in what ways they have benefited my life.

“For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” I Corinthians 4:7


HOSPITALITY vs. Loneliness

Cheerfully sharing food, shelter and spiritual refreshment with the people that God brings into my life.

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2


HUMILITY vs. Pride

Recognizing that God and others are actually responsible for the achievements in my life.

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” James 4:6


INITIATIVE vs. Unresponsiveness

Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21


JUSTICE vs. Fairness

Personal responsibility to God’s unchanging laws.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8


JOYFULNESS vs. Self-Pity

The spontaneous enthusiasm of my spirit when my soul is in fellowship with the Lord.

“Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; In Thy presence is fullness of joy; In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.” Psalm 16:11


LOVE vs. Selfishness

Giving to others’ basic needs without having personal reward as my motive.

“If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” I Corinthians 13:3


LOYALTY vs. Unfaithfulness

Using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God and to those whom He has called me to serve.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13


MEEKNESS vs. Anger

Yielding my personal rights and expectations to God.

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.” Psalm 62:5


OBEDIENCE vs. Willfulness

Freedom to be creative under the protection of divinely appointed authority.

“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” II Corinthians 10:5


ORDERLINESS vs. Disorganization

Preparing myself and my surroundings so that I will achieve the greatest efficiency.

“But let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner.” I Corinthians 14:40


PATIENCE vs. Restlessness

Accepting a difficult situation from God without giving Him a deadline to remove it.

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4


PERSUASIVENESS vs. Contentiousness

Guiding vital truths around another person’s mental roadblocks.

“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind  to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” II Timothy 2:24


PUNCTUALITY vs. Tardiness

Showing high esteem for other people and for their time.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1


RESOURCEFULNESS vs. Wastefulness

Wise use of that which others would normally overlook or discard.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10


RESPONSIBILITY vs. Unreliability

Knowing and doing what both God and others are expecting from me.

“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12


REVERENCE vs. Disrespect

Awareness of how God is working through the people and events in my life to produce the character of Christ in me.

“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:17-18


SECURITY vs. Anxiety

Structuring my life around that which is eternal and cannot be destroyed or taken away.

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” John 6:27


SELF-CONTROL vs. Self indulgence

Instant obedience to the initial promptings of God’s Spirit.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:24-25


SENSITIVITY vs. Callousness

Exercising my senses so that I can perceive the true spirit and emotions of those people around me.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15


SINCERITY vs. Hypocrisy

Eagerness to do what is right with transparent motives.

“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brother, love one another deeply, from the heart.” I Peter 1:22


THOROUGHNESS vs. Incompleteness

Knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my work or words if I neglect them.

“The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15


THRIFTINESS vs. Extravagance

Not letting myself or other people spend that which is not necessary.

“So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” Luke 16:11


TOLERANCE vs. Prejudice

Acceptance of other people as unique expressions of specific character qualities, in varying degrees of maturity.

“Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Philippians 2:2


TRUTHFULNESS vs. Deception

Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts.

“Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Ephesians 4:25


VIRTUE vs. Impurity

The moral excellence and purity of spirit that radiate from my life as I obey God’s Word.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;” II Peter 1:5


WISDOM vs. Natural Inclinations

Seeing and responding to life situations from God’s frame of reference.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the knowledge of the holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 10:9



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