A System of Rewards

As parents our role is to model God to our children.  Our own concept of God and His nature has been fashioned by our parents this is indisputable.  Through our parenting we, as well, will become the single greatest influence that shapes our children’s concept of God.  In my opinion this is the greatest responsibility of parenting because it has eternal consequences.  An awareness of this responsibility will shape the actions of our parenting by forcing us to ask the question, “What would God Do?” or “How would God act?” as we parent our children.

So that brings me to a parenting question.  Should we build a system of rewards for our children?  To properly answer this question, as representatives of God in our children’s lives, we must ask, “Does God have a system of rewards for His children?”  The answer to that question should determine our response.  A review of the principles of the bible reveals clearly that God does have a system of rewards.  His rewards are based on our obedient response to His commands.  Joshua stood before the children of Israel at Mount Ebal and told them to choose; choose God’s blessings or His cursings.  Then he declared, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”

A system of rewards is different than a system of performance in this way.  A system of rewards does not determine acceptance based on behavior or obedience but a system of performance does.  God’s system of acceptance is based on grace which has nothing to do with our performance.  God’s system provides for our lack of performance through Jesus Christ who performed on our behalf.  Our world is built on a system that says if you perform you are accepted and when you don’t perform and you will be shamed, humiliated, and ultimately rejected. By contrast a system of rewards makes this important distinction it is based on the concept of acceptance.  A system of rewards has at its foundation the declaration of acceptance.   God’s system of rewards declares that He accepts you and He loves you and states that this will never change regardless of your behavior.  Since that is God’s response toward us we must make sure that our response to our children reflects that same heart.   However, it is equally clear that, if you obey Him He will reward you; if you act in a way that is right He will support you in you action by blessing you with His presence, resources, and support.  If you don’t act right He doesn’t reject you He corrects you and that is what we must do with our children.

A system of rewards includes a mechanism of training that corrects wrong actions but does not reject the person because of the actions that are being corrected.  Let’s build a system of rewards for our children that is patterned after God’s system.  Let’s make it our goal because it is Gods goal to reward and bless our children.  He declares in Jeremiah that His plans for us are for good, for peace, for a good future, and to produce hope.  Our system of rewards should reflect that same motivation for the right behavior of our children.

The system should be based on God’s work in our lives but it will be personalized to each child and specific to our family.  God will give us wisdom as we fashion a system of rewards and He will caution us when that system slides over into a destructive process that confuses performance with rewards.  May God guide us with His wisdom as we reflect Him and His nature to our children.

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Published in: on February 20, 2008 at 1:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

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