I love what bestselling author Robert Fulghum wrote in his book All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten: “Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush.” Fairly simple tips, but how can we motivate children to reach God’s goals for them?
Motivating children is not a science. There are no quick fixes or secret formulas. Every child is motivated by something—the secret is discovering what motivates him or her. We must find a way to empower kids for the Lord!
Kids Need Motivation
Children think, “What difference does it make?” Some children are discouraged about trying to please God. Perhaps they have lost interest in spiritual matters and are not motivated to be involved. Instead, they focus on their own interests and let the world guide them.
Throughout the Bible, God uses a variety of cause-and-effect techniques to motivate His people. Some are positive and some are disciplinary; some are earthly and some are eternal. Sometimes children need to be reminded that every human being will someday meet the Creator face-to-face—and give an account to Him.
Every child can be motivated—though not every child responds to the same incentive. Find ways to lift your child’s eyes from self to God. Help him or her realize that God is real. Establish an appropriate system of rewards and penalties. Reinforce and motivate attitudes and behaviors that honor God. Show how faith is relevant to life. Embrace these four keys: Pray—Model—Encourage—Affirm.
4 Keys to Motivation
1. Pray: Father, help my children not to be like the world around them, but let them be ‘alert and self-controlled’ in all they do” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).
2. Model: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
3. Encourage: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13).
4. Affirm: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
As you put these four biblical motivational keys into play, remember what Fulghum concluded: “Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work everyday some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder.”
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