Teaching Children to Work, Pt. 3

“Are you being instant and cheerful?” I grew up hearing this question commonly asked by Mom of a child right after giving an order. “Please be instant and cheerful.” “Are you having an instant and cheerful attitude?” Anyway that you could phrase it — it was asked. And it was consistently asked. We knew that having a good response was required of us so every time we heard the “instant & cheerful” words we knew that our response wasn’t up to par. It was asked after eyes were rolled, it was asked to the child who continued to sit at the table coloring after being instructed to put the crayons away, it was asked of the teenager who grumbled as they walked away about how she/he was always asked to do that.

But really, what my parents were after was more than just good outward response — they wanted an inward change. They wanted a heart and attitude adjustment. My parents desired us, their children, to grow up with good work ethics, to be the best workers we could be, to be the greatest blessings we could be wherever we ended up working or serving. And part of that is being humble enough to receive instruction and respond to them with a good attitude.

So this amazing question had a profound affect on all us. Not only during the season of being trained did it allow us to be aware of our bad attitudes and give us a chance to readjust them, but it also worked something more in our hearts that we could live by for the rest of our life.

Being instant was a lesson of discipline and diligence. Do your work right away — don’t procrastinate. This goes a long way during the first season of life in school and even afterwards in the workfield. Thomas Jefferson put it so well by saying, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” Beat that flesh flaw of laziness that we all seem to struggle with so much! Being seated around the breakfast table as a little girl we were taught what happened to the ant who wasn’t productive and put things off. Proverbs 6:6-11 is one of the only passages of scripture I memorized as a wee lass and still remember to this day — I guess it had some impact in my life.

“Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!

It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,

yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?

A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest-

and poverty will come on you like a bandit
and scarcity like an armed man.”

And who likes to be around someone or have someone working with them (or for them) or be serving alongside someone in ministry who is given jobs and grumbles and has a sour disposition?

“A cheerful heart is a good medicine; But a broken spirit drieth up the bones.” — Proverbs 17:22

It benefits the people around you as well as yourself to be happy, to be cheerful, to be filled with joy. If you don’t, your spirit whithers up and unfortunately, you will turn people away from your presence. You want to be a blessing to those around you? Have a cheerful attitude. No matter what comes your way, what situation you’re in, if you’re given or a task or if you’re just living life, be happy and ready to serve and give with a merry heart.

This simple question (that used to seem like just that to me) is more than just a question that parents can ask their young ones. It’s Biblical principles that you can learn at a young age but will carry with you even in your adult years.


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  1. Great article… It’s so good to hear from a lovely “in-between” aged person that what we do as parents really does last for the long run.

    We have a similar phrase at our house and it seems my little people need to be reminded daily to carry out our instructions “right away, all the way” as we say around here!

    Posted by Stacie | August 26, 2008, 6:44 pm
  2. LOVE IT! Thank you.

    Posted by LisaC. | August 28, 2008, 9:47 am