by Pastor Tim Burt
It was a Sunday morning. The kids were age four, six, eight, and ten. Getting them up and fed and ready by 8:00 am so that we could be at church a half hour early to help serve seemed almost impossible. I needed the kids to cooperate and help get themselves ready for church which seldom if ever went well. I'd lose my cool too easily and snap and the kids and Renee. It was too much to expect of children so young. What should have been a blessing felt more like a weekly nightmare. No one knew how stressful it was because every week we would walk into church like we were the most cool, calm and collected people there were.
Renee and I didn't want to give up serving and helping at church but we didn't want to torture the kids or fight with each other over the pressure of getting ready so early each Sunday morning.
One of these mornings I came home exhausted and somewhat frustrated from the experience. I went into the bedroom, got on my knees and cried out to the Lord for help. I prayed, "Lord, I want to serve you by serving others. I am more than willing but I can't take this out on the kids. It seems too high of an expectation to get them all moving so fast so early in the morning. It's hard to ask them to be this good."
I had my Bible open on the bed. As I was praying my eyes glanced down at Hebrews 11:6. "...He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him." It was like a light clicked on in my head. I shouted, "Renee, I've got it! I believe the Lord has given me a plan! The Lord has shown me what to do!" It was all laid out in my head. "The Lord is a rewarder!" I kept thinking about that statement. I told Renee what I was thinking and she thought it would be good to try so we began to execute it.
We took the kids to Target. At that time in the toy section, they had one entire wall of toys that were about $1.50 or less. We had all four of the kids with us. Three were in the shopping cart and Stephanie was walking. I took them to this wall of inexpensive dollar toys and said, "Okay you guys, here is the deal; I am going to make a prize box at home with rewards in it for obedience, good attitude and cooperation. I want you to each pick out four things you would like to go in the prize box. They each picked four things they wanted. We bought 16 prizes for less than 20 bucks. We were all excited!
I also picked up a couple of bags of individually wrapped candies like Jolly Ranchers - something the kids loved. When I got home, I got out an old shoe box. I put all the candy and the toys they picked out in the box. Then I made a chart. Their goal was to get one hundred points a week. They would get points for having all their clothes put away, for being quick to obey, for having a good attitude, for getting ready for bed on time, etc. I also gave them extra points on the weekend for having their Sunday clothes out before bed, for having their shoes and coat sitting by the front door, and then for getting up, dressed, bed made and eaten breakfast all within twenty minutes after they got up. Whatever was a trouble area, we created points for mastering it.
My goal was to dole out just enough points so that they could reach 100 points by the weekend if they did good all week. Then they would be able to go into the prize box and pick out three pieces of candy and the prize of their choice.
The first Sunday it was nothing short of miraculous. There was no fighting, no hurrying them up or anything like that. I just reminded them of the points they'd get and how close they were to getting their prize. They were totally motivated and went for it. That Sunday was like clock work and Renee and I thought we'd get the Noble Peace prize or some award for this plan. The results were incredible to say the least. When they out grew one kind of prize, we'd find something else they wanted. There was period where it was toys, then books, then basketball cards, and so on.
They were always motivated by something. We just had to figure out what that was. We made a chart and kept it in the kitchen. We taught them how to write down their points when we said they could. They learned to keep track, to be honest about it, and even to add them up.
That day our lives became so simplified. It was simply the principle of rewards for good behavior. God is a rewarder and so we followed His example. We went on to use that system till they were in there mid teens or even older. It always helped motivate them toward good behavior and a better attitude. Then one day they all just did what was right because it was right. They didn't need the reward; They didn't need that motivation any more. They matured and moved from being carnally minded to becoming spiritually minded. Doing what was right before the Lord spiritually motivated them.
Praise God. I am sharing this with you because it was such a powerful tool in our life. Don't ever lose sight that we are all motivated by things. God understands that and uses them to help us move in the right direction. I know men that are motivated to be nicer to their wives because they want to have sex. People are motivated by paychecks, bonuses, and other things. Earthly things can motivate us and God understands that. That is why He told us in Luke 6:38 to become givers. "If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over..." Understand that God's principles work and then use them in an appropriate way to bring good results.
Heb 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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