Ants, Prizes, and A New Year
Looking ahead to the new year and striving to achieve specific goals – what a great way to establish good habits and gain the prize of a purposeful as well as happy life. Proverbs offers wise counsel to all ages!
Categories: New Year/Change
Now, how do creeping things and rewards affect this new year? Believe me, they do if parents and children are alert to the boundless good ideas in the Bible. As to those creeping ants - well, they truly have a lesson for all of us.
This new year is a good time to sit down one-on-one, parent and child, and assess the coming year. Consider sharing this text from Proverbs 6 with the family:
"Give not sleep to thine eyes nor slumber to thine eyelids. Go to the ant.....consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. When will thou arise out of thy sleep? "
While the text says that the lowly ant makes progress without a guide, you as a parent are a guide to your children. A guide is not a dictator, but a strong force for good. And it is so important to remind children regularly that their Father/Mother/God is the very best Guide every day.
Kids who are averse to planning ahead, who prefer the "sleep" of routine, including a huge dose of soporific television may find the words of this text hard to take. Often they are avoiding a good look to the future. This doesn't mean that they must outline their life-work at age 10, but it does mean that little-by-little they should be looking ahead and actually accomplishing something. It's up to you to encourage this.
How does a parent do this without making a boring soap-box speech? To start, it isn't a speech - it's an exciting discussion. Each year is a new adventure, an opportunity for wonderful things to happen. It is a time when a youngster's dearest-held hopes and dreams can become realities. So, begin by sharing some of your hopes - things like having more time for charitable activities, getting rid of clutter, taking more nature walks, reading together as a family. When you open up in this way, it is easier for a child to tell his/her own hopes for 2005. Don't count on his hopes including improved grades or faster chores….it will probably be things like getting on a certain team, or having a new skateboard, or traveling to Disneyland. Still, be grateful he/she is looking ahead for good things. You can gently add to the list. The main "task" of youngsters is to gain the essential knowledge and skills to function happily and usefully on their own. Again, the book of Proverbs has a message: (1:5)
"A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels."
The operative words here are "wise counsels" since kids can easily accept erroneous counsel from errant friends, and music, television and movie personalities (who may be excellent in their own fields, but are still not worthy role models.) A good question is, "What experience and qualities does the person giving me counsel have?"
It would be a fine project for the coming year to read together the book of The Proverbs. After all, Solomon, its author, was a king, architect, inventor, trade negotiator, builder, parent - always with an eye to the future. Recent research has shown him to be far more principled than earlier perceived. His book, "The Song of Solomon," shows his dedication to his wife (and it is now thought that his connection with the Queen of Sheba was platonic, in order to increase trade). His words are often quoted and are usually simply put so that youngsters readily grasp the meaning.
Again, it is a daily parenting responsibility to increase the Christ-like qualities of children. As it says in II Corinthians 5:17
"...if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
And isn't that your aim, to get rid of old habits and to be part of the newness that God provides each day?
And what about the prize mentioned in the title? We all like prizes! Good, accomplishful living means a happier childhood, and a more satisfying adulthood. But, we need to "go for it" (Paul says in Philippians 3 we need to "press" for it). So, this is the season to press onward as families, with hopes and dreams for this new year.