Sunday, June 22, 2008


I probably never made it clear that when I talk about puppies and kids and rewards that affirmation and getting excited about success is at the heart of the reward. In dog training the food goes away. The praise stays. My observations say (though I'm not there, yet) that many dogs eventually just do it without reward and even without praise just because it's the right thing to do. Ok, they're just well trained dogs. It's pretty special when you have a pet that wants to please you. Though we're a little careful about teaching children a "living to please" mentality, it's special when you have a child that wants to please you, too.

But kids are different. Even if you take away the rewards whether self-centered, motivational, or fun, there are times in everybody's life when you just have to do "it" because it's the the right thing to do whether you want to or not, whether you get approval and affirmation or not, whether you get rewarded or not. Doing the right thing isn't always the thing everyone praises you for, or even the thing your favorite grown-up or your favorite person praises you for. Sometimes peer groups and communities encourage and support a kid doing the right thing. Sometimes they discourage it or even encourage doing the wrong thing. Which is why kids need to learn to think for themselves and trust their gut feelings, especially when those feelings are on the mark but everything around them is telling them "no".

God makes promises and He keeps them. We believe there are rewards in life. We also believe that there are rewards we won't see in this life. There are times in life when we feel gipped, even though we believe we did the right thing ... and life goes on. We walk on with our kids, and we all learn something. We don't live for the rewards, or maybe we do. Maybe we live with hope for the reward that someday we'll hear God say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master!" In my mind, that's the ultimate reward - an unseen, unrealized reward. Sometimes just the anticipation of that reward is enough. Maybe that kind of thinking is easier for kids than for adults because adulthood hasn't yet stolen their imagination and optimism. Maybe they're not as dependent on external rewards as we think they are, unless we've made kids that way. Maybe we need to be careful.

John 20:29 " . . . Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'"

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