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12 Christlike Characteristics to Affirm in Your Grandchildren

  • Deborah Haddix Contributing Writer
  • Updated Apr 18, 2023
12 Christlike Characteristics to Affirm in Your Grandchildren

I was stunned! Fifteen years as an intermediate teacher, and I could count on one hand how many times this had happened. A former student took the time (several years later) to look me up and come by to say, “Thank you.”

It wasn’t the effort or the thanks, although both were rare and very much appreciated. It was what he remembered. While in my classroom, the young man was good-natured, friendly, and hard-working. He was an above-average student. However, he was also 11 years old, and sometimes his immaturity prevailed.

At the end of that school year in our “closing ceremonies,” he was presented with an award: a construction paper ribbon. On the back of the ribbon I had inscribed an affirmation of his character, complete with how I saw that character being manifested in his future academic and athletic endeavors.

As a college-bound athlete, he now stood before me to thank me for challenging him and even more, for the words of affirmation that had been bestowed upon him. He let me know that those words on the back of a simple little ribbon were still hanging in his room.

That moment convinced me. I could slap vague stickers all over my students work and send them off each year with ubiquitous ribbons, or I could choose to make an investment of worth.

Agreeing with Lou Priolo, who in his book, Pleasing People, says, “Demonstrate your high estimation of others by commending them for those qualities that are biblically worthy of praise,” I chose to commend my students with explicit and upbuilding affirmations.

My afternoon with that young man also made an impact on my grandparenting. Christ-like attributes are essential in every area of life, and it is my responsibility to teach and nurture these characteristics in the lives of my grandchildren. The bestowing of good affirmations, one that are specific and sincere, will help me carry out that role.

Consider with me the following 12 Christ-like characteristics to affirm in your grandchildren.

1. Authenticity

Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:20

Christianity is all about engaging in the imperfect, honest process of becoming more like Jesus. It is not about perfection. Affirm your grandchildren when you witness the demonstration of humble, sincere, Gospel-centered authenticity in their lives.

2. Compassion

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8

Compassion alludes to thoughtfulness and sympathy, but it goes much deeper. Compassion means to “suffer with.” Commend your grandchildren for recognizing the suffering of others and taking action to help. This Christ-like characteristic might be evidenced in their thoughtful questions, tears, or attempts to help.

3. Courtesy

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12

Courtesy speaks to social manners and polite conduct. Things which many seem to think have become as extinct as the pterodactyl.

When you notice your grandchildren holding a door for someone else, going last in line, deferring to another, or saying, “Please” and “Thank you,” offer a word of affirmation. Something as simple as, “I notice God is helping you become more courteous as you grow.”

4. Forgiveness

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Extending mercy to every sinner who confesses their sin and trusts in Him, Jesus is the most forgiving person in existence. He also instructs us to forgive as we have been forgiven.

When you witness your grandchildren offering forgiveness and extending grace to others, commend them for this work of Christ you see in them.

5. Generosity

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Jesus shares everything He has, holding nothing back for Himself.

Our grandchildren exhibit generosity when they give to others sacrificially. It’s more than money. It’s cheerfully sharing what they have. Each time your grandchild shares a box of candy, gives the money in their piggy bank to a mission effort, or serves at a food pantry, commend them for looking more and more like Christ.

6. Gratitude

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Gratitude is the expression of our thanks and praise, and it is a precious offering in the sight of our God.

In a very young child, the expression may come in the form of giggles and twinkling eyes. Older children might express their gratitude in the form of spoken or written words. As your grandchildren grow in their attentiveness to the gift and their appreciation for the giver, affirm this display of Christ-like character in them.  

7. Integrity

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. Proverbs 11:3

Integrity is adherence to moral and ethical principles. This Christ-like characteristic is fundamental to true character. It is exhibited in a person’s honesty, sincerity, and genuineness and over time will produce honor, truth, and reliability.

Simple affirmations such as, “I see the Christ-like characteristic of integrity shining through you when you…,” or “I want to be like you in the way you showed such integrity when…,” will foster Christ-likeness in your grandchildren.

8. Kindness

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

Considerate. Gentle. Helpful. One who shows kindness to others is prompted by love. They desire to help others and express good will. A kind soul takes a tender approach toward others’ weaknesses and limitations. Their words and actions are intended for the benefit of others.

Such a characteristic when seen in the lives of our grandchildren is worthy of commendation.

9. Obedience

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteousRomans 5:19

We taught our children and now enjoy watching them teach our grandchildren that to obey means to do it the first time with a happy heart. No rolled eyes, deep sighs, or reluctant resignation is ever-present in a true act of obedience.

When you “catch” your grandchildren obeying in the true sense of the word, take the time to offer a sincere affirmation. How about, “It makes my heart happy when…,” or “I know it makes God’s heart happy when…?”

10. Respectfulness

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

Respect and honor go hand in hand.

To honor someone means to “give them weight.” Honor is usually bestowed based on position, status, wealth, or character and is shown by our respect.

Respect is a way of thinking about someone. A positive feeling of admiration, it manifests itself in how we treat others publicly.

Do your grandchildren exhibit the Christ-like characteristic of respect by looking others in the eye, putting the phone down in their presence, saying thank you to someone who has invested in them, or sitting beside someone who is sitting alone? These acts and others like them are certainly worthy of commendation.

11. Responsibility

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. John 12:27

Faced with a task beyond our ability to comprehend, Jesus resolved to see it through to the very end. Ever faithful even at a cost of great sacrifice, He is our supreme example.

Do your grandchildren demonstrate this Christ-like characteristic? Have you seen them performing assigned tasks to the best of their ability, being faithful to their responsibilities, keeping their word, or completing tasks even when it would be more convenient not to?

Their acts of consistency, trustworthiness, and reliability show respect to others and honor God. In this, they should be encouraged and affirmed.

12. Truthfulness

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

Sometimes being truthful can take courage, especially when there are consequences. Affirm this Christ-like characteristic in your grandchildren whenever you see it on display. A pattern of truth-telling leads to confidence being placed in them by others.

It’s important to note that this list of 12 Christ-like characteristics to affirm in your grandchildren is not by any means exhaustive. In your work of teaching and nurturing, be on the lookout for other demonstrations of Christlikeness (marked patterns of behavior that reflect the example of Christ.) When you witness them, be sure to speak or write your words of affirmation. This is an investment of worth.

Deborah Haddix serves as co-director of Education & Resources for the Prayer Ministry of Christian Grandparenting Network and is the author of Biblical Portrait of Grandparenthood: Discovering and Living Out God’s Design for Our Role. She is also a blogger, speaker, and Christian Life Coach. Connect with Deborah at her website.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Aldo Murillo