I watched the movie “Brave” with several children while waiting for their parents to pick them up. The message of the story is that the daughter learns to respect and value her mother (while the mother also comes to appreciate her daughter’s point of view)—their strained relationship is healed at the end of the movie, and the daughter treats the mother more lovingly in the end.
One of the girls’ mothers approached her older daughter. “Does this movie give you ideas about how to treat your mother better?”
“No.” From her lips came the honest answer.
Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on movies or storybooks to impart biblical virtues to our children. Many Christian parents have seen the calendars and articles which encourage them to pray for biblical virtues for their children. Typically, the calendars list 31 virtues and encourage parents to pray through one virtue a day. I believe these calendars make a good beginning.
However, I believe a more comprehensive list will be helpful to Christian parents and children’s ministry workers as they pray for the children God has entrusted to their care and teaching. I will give brief attention to each of the virtues mentioned, with the caveat that it is important to remember how Scripture constantly ties different virtues together, and that Scripture discusses virtue in context of the expectation that the adults in a child’s life will be a living model of the biblical virtues.
As Paul wrote: “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things. And what you learned and received and heard and saw in men, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9) and as Paul also wrote: “But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves” (James 1:22), let us live the life. Our children—whether they are biological or whether they are the children we serve in ministry---will learn far more from us by watching our behavior, our habits, and our attitudes than they will from sitting in front of a film, hearing a story, or listening to a lecture.
As you review these virtues, pray for them in your own life. If you are married, pray for them in your spouse’s life. If you are single and desire to be married, pray for them in your future spouse’s life. If you have children of your own, I pray you will find the list edifying and that you will grow in Christ-likeness as you seek to implement the in your life. Pray that the Lord will bring them to mind, and pray that He will teach you how to live out these virtues well.