Sunday, April 24, 2011

What Needs to be Done?

Last fall, Ted and I co-led a "Spiritual Parenting" class based on the book with the same name by Michelle Anthony. It was excellent and we highly recommend it. Our kids are grown, but they're never too old for the new ways of loving and encouraging we found in this book.

The simple question, "What needs to be done?" 
can open doors to selfless giving.
The author wisely shared her prescription for "igniting a transforming faith," helping kids "find their identity in Christ," and putting them in "the path of the divine," rather just managing behavior and looking good on the outside.

One of my favorite parts is her introduction of the question: "What needs to be done?" Anthony suggests this is one of the best questions you can ask of your kids. She describes how children, even at an early age, need to move beyond "all about me" and see their interdependence to the world around them. When they see what they can contribute, they begin to grasp the value of serving others.

I did a lot of reflecting on this simple, yet profound question. It's so appropriate in so many situations:
  • Ask it of a toddler when it's time to pick up toys to go to bed.
  • Ask it of a 10-year-old who needs to set priorities for schoolwork.
  • Ask it of a teen sorting her way out of an emotional conflict.
  • A couple in our class told us they asked it of their kids when a realtor phoned wanting to show their home. The kids each found things to tidy up to make the place look more inviting.
  • We can ask the question of our kids, grandkids or other kids in various mentoring situations.
Asking that simple question teaches our youth to contribute to a family or group, which reinforces their worth and belonging. Then, it takes their identities in Christ a step further by encouraging them to give their gifts to others as part of His family.

The essential lesson of helping kids to become others-focused opens doors to independence, confidence and responsibility. When we ask, "What needs to be done?" we equip them to walk into any situation or relationship and use their leadership and problem-solving skills. They will be a better playmate, team-mate, room-mate, sibling, spouse, parent and community volunteer because of it. We empower them to assess the situation and to think for themselves, as we are there to guide them. Asking questions is so often better than giving answers!

We've all seen kids (and even adults) who are stuck in selfishness, not developing and using their gifts, not feeling equipped or empowered, waiting for someone else to do it. What a great thing it is when we teach  kids to really think for themselves. It's sure to enhance the purpose and meaning in their lives.

What needs to be done? Of course, the best way to sink the roots in deep is to model this behavior for our children. When they see us loving and serving others, they grow up knowing it is an important part of life.

Dear God, help us as we teach our kids to love one another, to see the gifts they have to give, and to find their divine purpose in life. Equip us, as parents, in this very important role!

Who can you encourage with this question?

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