As the father of four young children, I’m constantly looking for simple, memorable statements to help teach them valuable life lessons. Simple because they are young and memorable because, like their daddy, they tend to forget so very quickly.
My mom was the master at this method of childrearing. I will never forget her telling me how “a lesson bought is a lesson taught.” It was her simple, down-home way of saying that mistakes are often our best teachers. I remember her using a statement that conveyed the image of starving children in Ethiopia to teach the importance of eating the food in front of you and gratitude that it was even placed there.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been compiling some simple statements to help my children understand and apply lessons on integrity, industry and responsibility. Around the Whitt house, we teach our kids these simple life lessons through the following types of statements.
1. “Faithful in little, faithful in much.”
Little things make a big difference. It’s important for our children to learn that life is made up of lots of little choices and that small things add up to a life. Nothing is so small, so insignificant that is can be done halfway or halfheartedly. Always do your best and you won’t have to live with the weight of regret.
2. “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
An organized life is one that’s well lived. Chaos comes from a lack of focus and leads to a lack of effectiveness. That’s why it’s important to create a spot for everything so that when playtime is over everything goes back in its. This creates the confident expectation in the child that things will be found where they should be and should be where they are found.
3. “Pay now to play later.”
Life is always a choice between paying and playing. For every “yes” there is the corresponding “no.” It is imperative for our children to learn at a very early age that there is nothing wrong with playtime given that you’ve finished your work beforehand. Also, there is a great lesson to learn here regarding the truth that everything has a cost. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
4. “If you’re ‘on time’ you’re five minutes late.”
Always running late for appointments and thus making people wait on you is a serious character flaw. It is rude and inconsiderate. It comes from the idea that you’re more important than others. That’s why it is important to teach the importance of being early to meetings and appointments. This lesson also helps create a more confident child that isn’t stressed or embarrassed by consistently walking in late to class.
5. “Say what you mean and do what you say.”
Be a man/woman of your word. Do what you say when you say it and how you say it. Tell the truth. Be honest. Don’t lie. We will all make mistakes from time to time, but when that happens admit it, apologize for it and then make sure it doesn’t happen again. This is another vital character trait that must be taught early and reinforced often.
6. “Eat the frog first.”
Do the things you don’t want to do first. Get the hard stuff out of the way so that you can enjoy everything else. Don’t procrastinate. Wake with intentionality. Work with focus and determination. There’s never a better time to do what you don’t want to do than now. Get it done and move on.
7. “Finish what you started.”
So many people live half completed lives. In their wake are all sorts of hobbies and jobs and relationships that were started, but never completed. The scriptures talk about half-finished building projects and considering the costs before beginning. I don’t want my children to go through life not experiencing the confidence that comes from starting something, doing it with completely and correctly and then enjoying it.
Though these are not overtly “spiritual” or “Biblical” statements, King Solomon did use this method of instruction in the book of Proverbs. Why? Because there is power in words. Power to teach. Power to reinforce. Power to remind. Power to restrain. Power to encourage. Harness that power as you teach and train your children to become godly, confident, competent and strong men and women.
- What helpful, memorable statements that taught valuable life lessons did you hear as a young person?
- What simple, memorable statements do you use when teaching your children important life lessons?