Summer days make you want to be lazy, just hang out in the sun and have some fun. Who knows this better than kids? My youngest two have been having a ball, but my oldest is struggling a bit. See, he’s still in school, making up work that he had some difficulty completing during our scheduled home school year. He has been trying to negotiate with me, asking can he skip certain assignments that he believes he’s mastered. And as much as I want to give him a break, give the entire family a break from his whining and moaning, I say no, have to say no, because his desire to quit is more than just the summer itch; this is a pattern I saw in him long before the weather changed.
This giving up happens when he’s losing any electronic game, when a word search gets too hard or when he is told to redo some work that was not up to par. When something doesn’t come easy to him, he wants to give up so he doesn’t have to eventually suffer the ultimate defeat. This is how he is trying to define success. But I know, and you do too, that such a childhood pattern is the making of an adulthood pattern that will leave him stopping and starting everything from academic programs and jobs to relationships and, perhaps, even his faith. This is why our children need to know that they have to endure and don’t have the option of quitting when things don’t go their way. Quitting may seem the easy out now, but doing so will cause lifelong battles that they could avoid.
“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” (Luke 16:10-NASB).
The first part of this verse lets us know that whoever is thorough with assignments on a small scale will be thorough with assignments on a big scale. The second part of this verse says what I mentioned earlier—that whoever is not thorough with small scale assignments will not be thorough with big scale assignments, but it says more. Unrighteous speaks to one being false to a trust, violating justice. This person doesn’t just leave an assignment incomplete but also doesn’t give justice to what has been given to her. With the assignment she has failed to perform to her full potential and this violates God’s expectations of those not only made in His image but those who possess His Holy Spirit.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13)
We have the power in us to want to do and be able to do what pleases God (Philippians 2:13).
We can never expect to do anything worthwhile in our own strength (Zechariah 4:6, 2 Corinthians 4:7).
As I always note, I recognize that all our children are not saved, but we have to raise them to know the things of God and get them ready to receive their salvation. To this end, they have to know that when they half do an assignment, they don’t just look personally lax, they also communicate to God that they have no interest in using the abilities He’s given them to accomplish whatever may be before them. Of course, I’m speaking of assignments tackled without any truly debilitating issues, like a physical ailment, or a lack of needed resources. So, in everything they do our children are required to seek to be excellent, and we should expect excellence from them. Giving their best is the best way to give God glory, the very reason He created us (Revelation 4:11).
To help our children be faithful, let us:
Teach them that God expects us to be faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2). We are required to do the best we can with our time, talents, treasures, gifts and abilities. They may not be good in everything, but they must try their hardest at everything.
Know our children’s strengths and weaknesses and teach them to know them, too. As we observe our children and press our ear to heaven, we will know our children’s strengths and weaknesses. As they complete tasks and participate in activities, they should get a sense of their own strengths and weaknesses. Once they know these, we can help our children harness their strengths and work on their weaknesses, putting together an action plan for improvement, which includes prayer, and accepting those limitations they may have to live with (like me not being able to sing when I wish I could).
This life is about being excellent for God’s glory. When we fall short of our best because we didn’t try our best we have been unrighteous in using our abilities. To get the best out of our children, we must encourage them in this: “Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!” (1 Corinthians 9:24—NLT). As long as they are being faithful, persevering to the end, and we are cheering them on every step of the way, we are all truly seeking to keep the Kingdom first.