I was 14. My dad and I were trimming trees and heaping the branches on a huge pile that we would later burn. I clearly remember him stopping momentarily to wipe the sweat off his brow as he said, “Isn’t work fun? I love working. It’s so satisfying!” In that moment, I wasn’t sure I agreed 100%, but now I understand that he was giving me an immeasurable gift in teaching me that work is a blessing from God, and doing it for Him is the best way to find joy.
Any sort of work, whether it’s homework or doing chores around the house, can be viewed in two different ways: with joy, or with drudgery. Modeling that work is good and not evil is a gift I want to give my kids, just like my dad gave me. Our work and our hearts (our identities) are closely intertwined.
So how do I instill that heartfelt motivation in my kids and teach them about their identity in Christ? It’s easier said than done, am I right? Here’s a few ideas that we are working on around our house:
- I give my kids jobs that they can finish and feel good about. (Don’t underestimate their capabilities! Kids can do some pretty big stuff!) My 2-year-old vacuums the kitchen (no joke- she loves it!), my 8-year-old helps change and dress her little sister, and my 11-year-old can make a delicious meal for the entire family. The kids are able to contribute to the family, and they feel a sense of accomplishment when the job is done. In the same way, if we are part of God’s family, He gives us “jobs” so we can contribute to His family and experience the joy of work and identity in Him! My identity is who I am, the way I think about myself, the way I am viewed by the world and the characteristics that define me. Thankfully, my identity in God is inseparable from my place in His family, no matter what I do. I am His beloved daughter. I want my kids to know that they are an important part of our family as well and have special talents and gifts to give, even in their work.
- Bribery or overpayment for a job gives kids unrealistic expectations about work and doesn’t teach good character. We have chore charts at our house that hang on the fridge and we try our best to make each job match its payment. Saturday is payday and the kids look forward to getting their wages for the week. (Plus they can practice math as they add it up!)
- One thing I like to tell my kids is that doing my best at everything is important because my work shows my character, or what’s in my heart. I teach barre at the YMCA. (Barre is a fitness class with a combination of yoga, pilates, and ballet-inspired strength training.) Every time I teach a class, I try my best to give it my all! Why? Because God tells me to do all things heartily for Him! This principle applies to all our work- barre, homework and all! 🙂
- I must be willing to let my kids fail. This is hard, but teaches a valuable life lesson that laziness has consequences. If my 6th grader fails to study for a test, his poor grade motivates him to study harder next time. I also need to be willing to coach him without taking over and doing the job for him!
- Lastly, I try to give my children specific praise. Praise for a job well done is a huge motivator for my kids! They like to hear that they did a good job.
Soaking in the Truth
Scripture to encourage you:
- “And whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men.” (Colossians 3:23, NKJV)
- “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8, NKJV)
- “She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands.” (Proverbs 31:13, NKJV)
- “In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23, NKJV)
Music to inspire you:
- “All You’ve Ever Wanted” by Casting Crowns
Readings and Resources to come alongside of you: