Sometimes when we begin something, the excitement and newness of it all can carry us quite far, but towards the end, things can get tough. For our kids, the school year can feel much the same. Here are some encouraging tips for us as parents on how we can teach and encourage our children the challenges and the rewards of finishing well.
Spring is upon us and with it comes more hours of sunlight each day, warmer temperatures, greener grass, and newly sprung flowers. The school year is also winding down into its final weeks and you can almost taste summertime. Your children may already be dreaming of lazier days with no set schedule or longing for the time when a blaring alarm (or Dad or Mom’s voice) doesn’t shock them awake each morning.
Afternoons filled with freedom, staying up way past bedtime and enjoying all the activities of summer appeal to most families, but we’re not quite there yet. It’s important to teach our children the art of self-motivation, staying the course, and finishing well, as this is a discipline that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. If we are honest with ourselves this can be challenging for us as adults, but as God’s children we can find our motivation from His Word:
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23
GIVING OUR BEST.
There is wonderful satisfaction in teaching our children the value of hard work and moving forward, even when our feelings or emotions are insisting that we give up or take an easier path. When we observe the world around us we often see that people cut corners, tell lies, manipulate, or don’t give any effort beyond what is comfortable for them. Not only is this the opposite of how God asks us to live, but it prevents great things from being accomplished. Completing tasks, homework, and projects the proper way is good practice for future study habits, family life, and accomplishing career goals. Practicing this principle is much easier said than done, but when pleasing God is our motivation it becomes easier to give our best each and every day.
“Short cuts make long delays.” J.R.R. Tolkien
DON’T GIVE UP.
It’s especially hard to keep working at something when we have failed at it in the past. In most cases, our natural reaction is to give up, pretend like it doesn’t bother us, and put our hand to something that we are good at. When it comes to school work and work ethic this attitude can be a dangerous one. Whether it is a math concept, a foreign language, memorizing history facts, or paying attention in class, practice makes permanent. We must teach our children that just because something is hard doesn’t mean it should be avoided.
“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7
From gold stars on a sticker chart to a big Christmas bonus at work, children and adults alike enjoy rewards. Sometimes rewards are tangible and instant, like getting a paycheck or ordering coffee at the drive-thru at Starbucks. We live in a culture that screams instant and self-gratification, and so it definitely goes against the grain to have to work for something and then wait to see the results. It can be difficult for a middle schooler to see that his good study habits in 7th grade will help him reap great rewards in college. For the kindergartner struggling to combine sounds into words, it is hard to see how big of a role reading will play in the success of their future. With patience and love, we can encourage and remind our children and students that hard work equals rewards.
Finishing strong is not only something that benefits us here in this life, but it’s also a principle we see as we look to eternity with Jesus. In Matthew 25 Jesus tells the story of a master who gave different talents to his servants and how each worker decided to use what was given. It was the servants who had well-used what was given and worked until their master’s return that heard the words,
“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things. I will make you ruler over many. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Matthew 25:23
By modeling a strong work ethic, faithfulness to what God has given us, and doing everything cheerfully as unto the Lord we are setting a prime example for our children to grow into the men and women He has called them to be. As we enjoy the wonderful changes that follow the springtime, let us look ahead to the wonderful reward of summer while giving God our best in every task each day.
“By perseverance the snail reached the ark.” Charles Spurgeon