Thursday, March 15, 2012

Show, Don't Tell

Every writer (or anyone who has sat through a high school English class) knows that one of the most important rules for writing is: Show, Don't Tell.

Instead of just writing, "I was excited" you should show that you were excited by describing the expression on your face and the words that came out of your mouth.

The same is true in teaching life lessons to our kiddos.

  • We can't just sit them down and tell them about the importance of respecting authority. They need to see us honor our police officers, pastors, and others in positions of authority. 
  • Telling them to patiently wait for us while we're on the phone doesn't do a lot of good when we're griping at them to move faster as we hurry them out the door.
  • We can tell them all day long to be kind to their siblings, but if we are showing them an attitude of harshness in our interactions with them, the lesson's not likely to sink in.

Two character qualities that Andy & I want to instill in our children are being servant-hearted and being a hard worker. Last Saturday we had an opportunity to "Show, Don't Tell" them what that looks like.

Last Saturday, South Bay hosted a Yard Day to clean up the outside of our new facility. Nearly 80 volunteers worked throughout the day and truly transformed the looks of the exterior of that building. I was a little hesitant about bringing the Littles to Yard Day. I thought it would be a battle all day to keep them on task and I anticipated lots of complaining. But I was pleasantly surprised.

Andy and I both took one kid (switching back & forth occasionally) and it ended up being a great, bonding experience. Caedmon & Sammy were the only kids there, so everyone was loving on them, carrying them around, and giving them high fives. They loved getting dirty and using real tools. I kept saying things like, "It's fun to work hard, isn't it?" 

At ages 3 & 5, their physical contribution was limited. But what was growing in their hearts is sure to reap a harvest in years to come. As they grow and continue to have opportunities to serve and work hard, their skills will increase and they will be able to make huge contributions. They already contributed a lot in brightening everyone's spirits!

What character qualities would you love to see developed in your kids? Are you showing them that with your own life? And are you giving them opportunities to practice and develop those qualities?

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