My brother recently sent me a link to a list of 8 Things Every Kid Should Experience. The list includes:
1. Being Part of a Team
5. Farm Life
6. A Lemonade Stand
7. Flying a Kite
I think I experienced all of these as a child growing up. I have some fond memories and some not so fond memories. Our family vacations and reunions were usually spent camping all over the Midwest. My whole family was in a weekly bowling league. I played on several different sports teams and enjoyed the camaraderie that comes with them. But I think one memory I will never forget is doing the dishes every day to pay off a ski trip I wanted to take in high school. Then somehow after my payment was complete, dishes became my “official” job in the family.
One thing I realized as I was reading this list is that three experiences on the list actually involve “work” (chores, farm life and lemonade stand). Work is one thing we teach our children about every day. We teach them either by what we say or by what we don’t say. We give them a picture of “work” by what we complain about or are excited about. Our work ethic comes across to our children in not only our words but our actions. I’ve been thinking a lot about “work” this past month as we prepare for the upcoming Faith at Work seminar.
Elizabeth Elliot writes in The Gift of Work from her devotional book “Keep a Quiet Heart”
“The principal cause of boredom is the hatred of work. People are trained from childhood to hate it. Parents often feel guilty about making children do anything but the merest gestures toward work. Perhaps the children are required to make their beds and in a feeble and half-hearted fashion, tidy up their rooms once a month or so. But take full responsibility to clear the table, load the dishwasher, scrub the pots, wipe the counters? How many have the courage to ask this of a ten-year-old?… Children quickly pick up the parents’ negative attitudes toward work and think of it as something more sedulously to be avoided.”
I find that I struggle with this very thing as a parent. How much is too much to ask of my children. I’m busy and they are busy so what should I expect of them around the house? If I had only expected more when they were younger, it would be easier now that they are older. Did my parents expect too much from me? Or is it more about the attitude than the actual expectations. Do I have negative words about cleaning the house or doing the dishes? Do I see the value in what needs to be done and for who it is being done?
My heart has been convicted by these verses this week.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24
May we strive to give our children the “gift of work” as again Elizabeth Elliot writes:
“Wouldn’t it make an astounding difference, not only in the quality of work we do (in office, schoolroom, factory, kitchen, or backyard), but also in our satisfaction, even our joy, if we recognized God’s gracious gift in every single task, from making a bed or bathing a baby to drawing a blueprint or selling a computer? If our children saw us doing “heartily as unto the Lord” all the work we do, they would learn true happiness.”