The New Testament is full of reminders for Christians to be careful how they lived their lives. The writers (and God) knew that non-Christians watch Christians carefully. Sure, some do it to find an excuse not to believe, but many are looking in hopes of seeing the light and love of God in our lives. Reflecting God’s love to others is what draws them to Him and His Words.
If you have children for very long, you soon become swept up in birthday parties, volunteer commitments and a whole new world of people who may previously have been strangers. Hopefully, these people will soon learn from you and your children that your family worships God faithfully.
When they interact with you and your children though, do they see God reflected in the actions of your family? Can they tell the difference between your children and the children of people who reject God and His commands? Does your children’s behavior draw others towards God or make them want to run for the hills?
If you talk to anyone who runs any sort of program, they will tell you their biggest frustration is the lack of what used to be known as “common courtesy” in people. Common courtesy includes basic manners, but goes a little deeper. It is a way of living out the “Golden Rule”- of treating others the way you would want to be treated.
So how can you train your child to draw others to God by showing God’s love to others with their common courtesy? Here is a list of the “wishes” I hear most often from the types of people who may work with your children:
- Showing appreciation. Many of the people who work with your children are either volunteers or teachers who spend much of their “free time” creating a better experience for your child. Train your child to thank anyone from the parent hosting the birthday party to their school teachers at the end of the event/hour/day. Spend less time criticizing every minor mistake you see and more time encouraging and building up the adults who work with your children. Encourage your children to do the same. It is amazing the power a simple note or a heartfelt thank you can have on someone who is discouraged.
- Responding as soon as humanly possible to invitations and/or requests for information. People planning events often spend a significant amount of money in supplies. I hear over and over again how people have either over or under purchased because people refuse to R.S.V.P. People who send invitations need to hear from you whether or not you are coming. They want a response even if it is “no”. Budgets are tight and people’s time is valuable. Responding immediately reflects God’s Love, by showing how much you respect the time and money the person is willing to expend on the behalf of your child.
- Keeping commitments. Nothing breaks the heart of a volunteer/teacher/birthday planner more than having someone commit to coming and then not attending the event. It is disrespectful to the people planning the event to commit to appear and then fail to come. Money is wasted and people’s hopes are dashed. Deciding something else is more fun to do and blowing off an event you have committed to does not reflect God’s love to those people. Please do not punish your child by making them back out of another child’s birthday party at the last minute. You may be punishing your child, but you are very likely crushing the birthday child. Find another way to punish your child that does not negatively impact other children and adults who have planned for your child to attend an event. (Sickness and family emergencies are the exceptions. Most people would prefer not to be exposed to other’s germs and will understand if there is a death in the family.)
- Offering to help. Nothing reflects God’s love more than a child who offers to help set-up/clean-up, etc. during an event. It shows unbelievers your children are willing to put the needs of others ahead of their own desires. Service to others is the best way to show God’s love in a tangible manner.
The next time your child participates in an activity, is invited to a party or heads to school, remind them of these important ways to share their faith with those around them. Teach them how to talk about God’s love and invite others to attend worship or read their Bibles when adults ask them why they are so “different” from the other children. Let’s go back to the New Testament example of Christians being known for their good deeds – including common courtesy.
What other common courtesy principles are you teaching your children? I would love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!