Kids and Work

Kids and Work - Parenting Like HannahLast Sunday as I was almost finished getting ready for church, I was hit by the kind of pain that doubles you over. It quickly became apparent that a run to the emergency room was in my near future. I probably should have panicked.

This summer I am running our children’s Bible class program – Missionary Journeys. This usually means quite a bit of last minute set-up on Sunday mornings as well as co-ordinating volunteers and teaching one of the centers. None of that was going to be done by me that day.

We ran by the church building on the way to the hospital and basically kicked our fifteen year old daughter and all of the stuff needed for Bible class out of our car. As we drove off towards the hospital, she was left to do everything I normally did on Sunday mornings for set-up and co-ordination as well as the photography and filming that she normally does for me.

The great thing though, was that as we drove off, I had every confidence she could do it. She was a hard worker and knew what needed to be done. The people she grabbed to help and our “newbie” center teacher for the day were also hard workers and would do whatever needed to be done to make sure the children had their normal Bible class time.

Later in the week (thankfully feeling a lot better), I watched as she prepared activities for children using her own money and quite a bit of her time. She had recently expanded her businesses to include a babysitting business. She had a client in the neighborhood and was creating re-usable special activities to take with her to her clients so the children would have something fun and new to do when she babysat them.

Her clients loved the activities and of course, the mom was impressed. My daughter was curious why more kids her age hadn’t thought of the idea before, so that it was common for babysitters to do this. We had a great discussion about hard work and “going the extra mile” in life.

After our talk, I started thinking back to when she was much younger. What activities had we done to encourage a strong work ethic in her?  Frankly, I was a little stumped. I couldn’t really think of anything to suggest to other parents.

Kids and Work - Parenting Like HannahEarly one morning, as I took a walk, I came upon this site at the end of a driveway in my neighborhood. Evidently, some young child or children had wanted to earn money. The parents encouraged him (as it turned out, it was a boy about early elementary age) and he had started a rock decorating business. Suddenly, a flood of memories came rushing back. Our daughter had done everything from doing extra chores around the house to selling lemonade at yard sales and creating crafts to sell to have her “own business”. Over the years, her hard work was noticed by our neighbors, who began hiring her for house sitting, pet sitting and now babysitting jobs.

At the time, we thought we were teaching her financial skills. Now, I realize she was also learning the value of hard work. As parents, we often think of things like lemonade stands as a lot of work for us for not much reward. Or, we may think the child isn’t really working that hard by finding rocks, drawing faces on them and sitting at a picnic table for hours trying to sell them to passersby. It all seems like a huge waste of time.

For a young child though, that is a lot of hard work. The seemingly spare change they earn, seems like a small fortune at that age and gives positive feedback to reward their effort. This guy not only sold a rock to me, but got a little extra for letting me take pictures of his business.

The rock sits on my desk now. Whenever I see it, I will be reminded of the value of teaching our children how to work hard for what they need and want. I hope though, that we will also teach them to work that hard for God.

A friend of mine has an adult daughter who is doing mission work in another country with her husband. Evidently, this city has a reputation for being a very difficult mission field. I am sure they get discouraged, but they were trained to be hard workers for God. They have worked hard even when it seems to take more effort than it is worth. The results are beginning to show though, and I am sure God is so pleased with them. I wonder if they had decorated rock stands when they were little?

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Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19 NIV)