In my list of “Ten Things to Focus On”, that I, as an older woman who’s raised her children to adulthood, would share with a young mom who wants to raise Godly children, number eight is:
8) Train your children to work hard and serve. Do not be afraid that you might be working your children too hard. You’ll notice that they love to work when they’re very small. Give them jobs to do. Let them help you. Have them by your side. Yes, you can do it faster and better without them, but that’s not the point. It’s your job to train them to be Godly! Work is one aspect of life as a Christian. Jesus Christ came to serve, not to be served. As a family, serve others together. As a benefit to you in the future, you’ll have trained a workforce, and you’ll be glad you did. The more children you have, the more work that will get done, and the greater service you will do. (Make it your goal to train them well in the work of the home, and become the manager of the workforce.)
Train their hearts to work, not only their bodies. The Lord examines the heart. He cares about our motives. Discipline the attitude, and you won’t have to discipline the action. Though, at times, it may not feel like we are serving the Lord, we must look past the person and task, to see Him.
“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”
“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”
As they get older, and when they complain, and they will—ignore their complaints, or follow the Biblical injunction, “He that will not work, shall not eat.” This is especially effective with teenage boys who have hollow legs. Paul says, in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (KJV), “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” If they won’t work, or have dilly-dallied, they get no supper until they’re done. (Explaining this rule before it has to be applied is helpful, but not essential.) They won’t starve. The growling noise in their stomachs will encourage a change in their attitudes. Oh, and they don’t get breakfast either until the job is done. It’s a good idea to have Dad lay down the law on this, because we moms tend to wimp out and our attitude of, “Oh, my poor baby”, shows on our faces. I only remember having to do this one or two times. When a child sees that you mean business, they don’t try this again–it’s not worth it.
In my husband’s family, as I’ve noted before, the character quality of being a hard worker was almost as “genetic” as the color of your eyes. Because their last name was Gunn, they were all expected to be hard workers. Known for it. And that was that. We fell into line. (That’s a lot of good peer pressure, or should I say, “relative pressure”, that shouldn’t go to waste!) We raised our children to think that they’d better work hard and be known for it, or they’d bring “disgrace” to the family name. Actually, we put it in the positive. A common verse I quoted to them was, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1 We showed them that there was another family Name to think of, more importantly. They would either bring praise or disgrace to their Heavenly Father’s Name, which they bore, by how they worked. Now, please don’t get me wrong, our children are not perfect, and did their fair share of complaining. And shirking. And doing poor, and incomplete jobs. Just as we, their parents, have in our lifetimes. But, it didn’t get them very far. I remember one notable example, when one of my children was told to wash the large kitchen floor, a task they had performed many times, and knew how to do well. Their flesh persuaded them that it was too hard, too tiresome and didn’t need to be done well, and they listened. This child, old enough to know better, skipped over the step of sweeping the floor first, and went straight to washing! Needless to say, they might as well have skipped the whole job! For some reason, I lost perspective for a moment, and though I told them to do the job over again, and right this time, the devil tried to persuade me to feel sorry for them. We were having dinner with friends that night, and I was feeling like a mean mama. I still can hear and see our friends’ laughter at my wishy-washyness, and remember their support of the “harsh” treatment. Fortunately, in this case, my husband’s firm resolve balanced my jello backbone with strength, and other times, when he was tempted to be soft, I was firm.
Eventually, with perseverance in prayer and training, our children have each developed a good work ethic. For some reason, this was the quality which seemed to make the most impact on our unsaved neighbors and relatives, who commented on it frequently. It opened up doors for us and our children to talk about spiritual things with them and to share Christ. We worked together as a family and our children worked hard. Jerry always worked with Dane on outside projects, large and small. Though we just took working hard for granted, and eventually, so did our children, it takes intentionality, and effort, to raise children this way. I wasn’t raised this way: to do work heartily, and cheerfully, as unto the Lord. This has made it more difficult for me in my Christian life to obey and to serve, and I have found this discipline hard at times. It has tempted me to be too “soft” on my children, and slothful myself.
As Christians, we are commanded to work heartily, cheerfully and to do it for the Lord. So, we must train our children’s hearts and attitudes. This character quality will open doors of opportunity for them later in life, help them live successful and fruitful lives, and give them a good name. It will be a big help to you as a mom, when your children are trained to work hard and with a good attitude. And, most importantly, it will help them to obey the Word of God, and to be like Christ, Who was a Servant, and bring praise, and not disgrace, to the Name of Christ.
“Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” 2 Thessalonians 3:12
“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10
“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” 1 Thessalonians 4:11
“Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.” 1 Timothy 5:10
“He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.” Proverbs 18:9
“The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.” Proverbs 21:25
(All Scripture taken from the King James Version.)
Recommended word studies in the Bible: “slothful” vs. “diligent”.