Unlike specific spiritual gifts given to individuals by God to accomplish a specific purpose, the fruits of the Spirit are meant for all. We can be confident, then, that we’re in complete agreement with God when we teach and model these spiritual characteristics.
For what champion would not benefit from a solid grounding in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? From this foundation comes the framework for every other gift. Many of these gifts may take years to be manifested, but the fruit of the Spirit can be worked on right now, no matter the age of your child.
Don’t be deceived; temples take hard work (reference the Old Testament Book of Ezra if you have questions). Even when God provided the instructions, the scope and sequence of the work and, in many cases, even the building materials, people still had to do the construction. Was God with the people, guiding and sustaining them in their work? Yes, but they still had to labor to get the job done.
Birthing a child is called labor. Building a tabernacle or a champion is also laborious. You’ve got to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. You need to prioritize your life and channel effort and energy into the building of your children. These attributes are gifts from God through the Spirit but they must be developed and internalized. Two year olds are not naturally patient. Seven year olds are not automatically kind. Thirteen year olds don’t always exhibit self-control.
So, how do you build on this foundation God intends for your child? You know these are provided by Him, but you also realize they must be bolstered by you. No matter the age of your child, there are a few simple steps you can take as a parent to help your child cultivate these spiritual fruits.
Make fruit a part of your day. Teaching children is often done most effectively by modeling. You teach love by being loving. You model joy by expressing it in yourself. By valuing peace, you pass on its value to your children. When patience is called for, you show it and your children will learn. It isn’t about what you say along, it’s about how your actions line up with your words. If they are out of whack, your child’s foundations will be wobbly and unsteady.
These aren’t unrealistic expectations, either. It’s not like an architect expecting her child to grow up to design buildings, or a physician planning medical school for his five year old. These aren’t individualized gifts, given only to a chosen few. They are available to everyone and expected of those who love God and call on the name of Christ. They aren’t optional; they’re required. They are required for life and for the arenas God has planned for your champion.
Know when your fruit is ripe. I so much look forward to the men my boys are becoming, it’s hard for me to remember sometimes they are just children. I want them to learn patience now! Fruit takes time to ripen. In fact, if you try to harvest it too early, it’s stunted and hard and bitter. If I expect too much from my children, they will be the same emotionally—stunted, hard and bitter. My job isn’t to harvest the fruit but to do all I can to help it ripen at the right time. God is in charge of the harvest.
Teach your child to recognize fruit. Teach your children the fruit of the Spirit. Talk about the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Instruct your child in the differences between them and how they are manifested in the daily life situations that arise.
Love isn’t doing what the other person wants all the time. Joy isn’t happiness. Peace isn’t capitulation. Patience isn’t putting up with evil. Kindness isn’t avoiding conflict. Goodness isn’t determined only by what a person does. Faithfulness isn’t blindly following. Gentleness isn’t soft. Self-control isn’t self-righteous. Each fruit has its unique shape, flavor and nutrition for the soul. Allow your child to taste and savor each one. In this way, your child will not only be blessed but will be learning how to be a blessing to others.
Parents have a profound impact on the foundation of a child’s life. For better or worse, this foundation will likely continue to influence them for the rest of their life. However, if we were not provided with a healthy, loving foundation as children ourselves, it can be difficult to break the cycle and provide solid footing for our own children. Sometimes we don’t realize that we need to heal our past until faced with raising children of our own. If there is something holding you back from being the best parent you can be, there is help available. Fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today. Our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE is standing by to help you and your family.