We've been struggling in our house to impress upon our girls the importance of doing your best. My youngest, especially, has a tendency to rush through her schoolwork, her chores or any other thing she doesn't particularly like to do. We've been working to persuade her that it's important to do her best even when she doesn't like the task. When we explain this to her, we are met with the inevitable question of "But, why?"
I think even as adults, we're guilty of asking the same question about the tasks that we dislike. I don't like to clean the bathrooms, which means I often rush through the chore to get to something I like more. I know all the reasons why we need to have a clean bathroom, but sometimes that's not enough to get me to do the chore well. My kids are really no different from me.
So, how do we impress upon our kids that doing their best is important, not just for them but because it's important to God. As Christ-followers, everything we do reflects back on God, even cleaning the bathrooms. We don't have to be perfect in all that we do, but God does ask us to give it our best shot. Colossians 3:23 says "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Whether it's schoolwork, soccer practice or doing chores, we want our children to do it as if they were doing it for the Lord and not for any earthly reward or punishment.
That's a big concept for kids to grasp, so let's break it down for them.
- Ask your kids to give you examples of people who are in positions of authority. You'll probably get answers like a police officer, fire fighter, school principal, teacher, etc. Ask your kids to tell you why we should obey those people. Talk about how God is the ultimate authority over everything, so if He asks us to do something, we should do it and do it well. Share Colossians 3:23 with your kids.
- Put your child in a position of authority. Let him decide what to have for dinner. He's the boss and you're his employee. He chooses the dinner; you make it. When you make dinner, do a terrible job -- make it taste bad and look bad. When you put dinner on the table, ask your child what he thinks about the job you did. Ask him if you were really his employee what he would do. Ask him how he thinks God feels when He gives us a job and we do it badly. Explain that if you were a chef at a restaurant and your child was the owner, your poor cooking skills would reflect badly on him, the owner. In the same way, when we don't do our best that affects the way people think about God.
- Don't hesitate to make your child redo subpar work, whether it's homework or a chore. Remind them that God expects our best and so do you.
Remember that doing your best does not mean being perfect. My oldest daughter is never going to win the spelling bee. If she brings home spelling tests with a few missed words on them, I'm not going to accuse her of not doing her best because I know that she studied those words and tried her hardest. You're not trying to make your child an A+ student, star athlete or champion chore-doer for God -- you just want them to give God their best.