Welcome guest blogger, Karen Dockrey.
The little things really do build the big picture. But will the saplings we nurture ever grow into sturdy hardwoods? We plant goodness in them, fertilize them, stake them, treat the blight, rein them back to center, and appreciate the growth. Eventually we savor a stately tree with character in its branches. But that’s not guaranteed. So what character do you want your children to choose? For every trait, identify actions that feed it. Delete actions that block it. Here are starter inspirations:
Selfishness is at the root of sin. Can you think of any sin that doesn’t start with the conviction you should have what you want when you want it in the way you want it? To diagnose selfishness, ask:
- Whose needs are you meeting besides yours?
- If there were a selfish action or thought in this plan, what would it be?
- Where might you be manipulating the outcome with sweet-sounding words that actually seek what you want?
Intentional kindness matters at work, in church, during schooling, in friendship, in families, and so much more. Thoughtfulness is foundational to all God-honoring behavior (Gal. 5).
- Everybody matters. So take turns going first.
- Learn to say, “After you!”
- How will you share the spotlight?
- Never laugh at a child or let your child laugh at someone.
Every great story is built on overcoming obstacles to restore the good. Our fallen world presents cantankerous people, problems to solve, information to learn, illnesses to manage, and evil to squish. Rather than whining, cultivate a conviction that God is strong and good is worth fighting for. God will show us how to solve any problem this wicked world throws in our path (John 16:33).
- What truths, people, or processes can help solve this?
- What is the root of the problem? What shows on the surface?
- What goodness will we create in the midst of this, and how will we do it?
- Invite children’s ideas for solutions rather than telling them what to do.
Work is a gift from God (Gen. 2:15). Work is more than how we earn money—it’s taking our place in the bigger picture.
- Every day, insist on chores before play. You’ll develop habits of enjoying work, of self-control, and of rewarding hard work with other activities.
- “You really light up when you do math!”
- When God is your boss, you always have someone watching. How do you delight in God through work?
Discern Right from Wrong
Right and wrong are not limited to a checklist. God gave us an entire Bible to guide our thinking and acting. Work alongside God to develop a discerning Spirit in your children. You did right in a tricky situation. You lived out the image of God in you!
- How will you kindly spend less time with someone who lies (Ex. 20:16) or shows discord (Gal. 5:19-21)?
- How does this action bring positive attention to God? How might it muddy His name?
- What’s wise about this, rather than simply permissible?
Karen Dockrey regularly encourages parents and regularly converses with children. Her books include the Student Bible Dictionary: Revised and Expanded (2014). To order ParentLife, visit lifeway.com/parentlife.