The reality of responsibility

As parents we often make the mistake of assuming our kids know how to care for things. Then we end up dealing with a disappointed child who bent a badminton racquet using it as a hammer, or who left an electronic device outdoors in the rain.

Ideally, each time your children are given something, spend some time educating them on how to care for it. The message your children need to get is, We take care of the things we own so they remain in good condition and last longer.

Use these sample questions or similar ones to review proper care of possessions with your children.

Questions for discussion
  • Is this a toy or a tool?
  • How was this designed to be used?
  • How could this ________ get ruined or damaged?
  • Where will you store this ________ to keep it safe?
  • What are the instructions for care that came with this ________?
  • Is this meant to be used / worn outdoors or indoors?
  • What kind of fabric is this ________ (article of clothing) made from?
  • Is this ________ (article of clothing) for play or for dress-up?
  • How do you want this ________ to look in five years?
Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 12:27 “Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth.

Ecclesiastes 10:18 “Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks.

Due diligence party

Explain that each family member needs to earn a certain number of points or stickers by doing chores and practicing skills before the family can celebrate together. (Having a celebration instead of rewarding with money helps your children experience the joy of a job well done rather than being focused on material things.)

Begin by helping each child make their personal due diligence chart. It should have two columns: one for chores and another for skills practice.

Divide the chore column into the number of work sessions you want your child to complete in the week to earn your due diligence party.

Divide the skills practice column into the number of practice sessions that are realistic for your child to complete in a week. Skills to practice can include schoolwork, homework, practicing a musical instrument, playing a sport, learning letter sounds or reading, reviewing math flash cards or writing to improve printing or handwriting.

Give each child stickers or have them colour in a square on their chart to track their progress.

As you encourage your child to work on their tasks each day, talk about the party you will have at the end of the week to celebrate their hard work. (The party can be a fun meal with simple decorations followed by a family game.)

During your celebratory meal, use the discussion question to talk about diligence. Share the verses below and ask your children how they think the verses relate to their week of work. Talk about your work and some of your favourite hobbies too, as they can be great examples of a parent’s concerted and enduring efforts.

Questions for discussion
  • How do you feel when you look at your chore chart and your practice chart and see how much you have done?
  • What would happen if a farmer didn’t plant seeds in his / her field or if a person didn’t plant a garden?
  • Would a child learn to read if they never learned their letter sounds?
  • Can a person get good at playing a musical instrument or a sport if they don’t practice?
  • What are some ways you’ve seen Mom or Dad work hard to benefit our family?
Key concepts

For every focused effort we put in, we experience a payoff. When someone practices a skill, they get better at the task. Completing chores means a household is comfortable and healthy to live in, because the living spaces are clean, food is prepared and laundry is done.

Just as there is no harvest in the fall if seeds are not planted in the spring, a family cannot expect a house to clean itself. We must be diligent workers if we expect results. In reality, being lazy makes us miserable. Life is much more fulfilling when we are diligent. We can enjoy the satisfaction of knowing we have done our jobs well and have contributed to the family. Work is much more enjoyable if we work hard at it and do it to the best of our abilities, than if we slop through it and grumble the whole time.

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 10:4 “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Proverbs 13:4 “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Proverbs 14:23 “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.

Proverbs 20:4 “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.

Ecclesiastes 2:24 “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God . . .

Search for the real Santa

Sadly today, the Santas your children are likely to encounter in stores tend to ask children, “What do you want for Christmas?” which can foster self-focused greed. To counter this perspective, find and share a story about Saint Nicholas, who was generous and focused on giving to others.

Encourage your children to be generous, like the original Santa, by challenging them to consider “What can we give this Christmas?”

Read Acts 20:35 together and ask your children, “How can we spread the joy of Jesus by being kind to the needy?” Each time you see a Santa, remind your children that the original Santa became famous for being generous.

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 14:21 “He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.

Proverbs 14:31 “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Acts 20:35 “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

1 John 3:17 “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

Gift opening – a reminder about contentedness

For example, wrap up a full-size chocolate bar and then a treat-size chocolate bar. Discuss with your children what it means to envy and what it means to boast, then hand out the gifts for them to open.

Talk with your children about how it might be easy to be envious of a gift someone else receives, or overly boastful about a gift you really like. Pray and ask God to help you be content with whatever gifts you receive this Christmas. (Hopefully your children will decide to redistribute the chocolate fairly!)

Lesson in a light bulb

For this activity, you’ll need two light bulbs and a light socket (a trouble light or a table lamp with the shade removed). Begin by showing your children an ordinary (unlit) light bulb. As you do, ask the questions provided.

Questions for discussion
  • Can you tell me what this is this?
  • What is a light bulb supposed to do?
  • Who wants to see if this one will do what it’s supposed to?

Screw the bulb into the socket. When the bulb lights up, you can all cheer.

Read Matthew 5:14-16.

  • How are people like light bulbs?
  • Do we always shine like we should?
  • Are there times when our lights are turned off?

Unscrew the light bulb and put it in a zip-seal plastic bag. Place the bag on a firm surface, and without fanfare or explanation, crush it with something heavy. If you have stiff-soled shoes on, you can even step on it. Leave a short pause for effect and hold up the bag of bulb pieces. Take a minute to ask more questions.

  • Can this light shine anymore?
  • Is it still useful?
  • Can we put it back together and make it work again?

Next, bring out a new light bulb. Hold it up so your kids can see that it is completely whole.

  • Can this light bulb shine just by trying really, really hard?
  • Is the light bulb shining yet?
  • How can we make it shine?

Your children will likely tell you to plug it in or to turn it on, so do so.

  • What is the power source that makes the light shine?
  • What is the power source that makes us shine?
Key concepts

Broken light bulb: When we sin, our light doesn’t shine like it’s supposed to. Without Jesus, we are all like broken light bulbs. When we sin, we break ourselves, we damage our connection with God, we hurt each other, and we hurt God. We have all sinned and we are all like the broken bulb – we can’t shine like God made us to shine anymore. We can’t do anything to fix our broken-ness either. Only God can.

New (not plugged in) light bulb: The wonderful news is that God makes broken people whole again. When we ask God to forgive our sins and tell Him that we want to obey Him and have Him be the leader of our lives, He takes all the broken pieces of our lives and makes us new again – just like the new light bulb.

Plugged-in light bulb: Even a brand new light bulb does not shine if it is not connected to the power source. Just like a light bulb that is not plugged in to a socket, we can’t shine on our own, no matter how hard we try! The good news is that when we have the Holy Spirit in us, we can shine brightly for Jesus because His Holy Spirit is the power source.

Jesus gives us His Holy Spirit to live in us so we can do the things He asks us to do – obey our parents, be kind to each other, share with others, tell the truth, and be patient. The Bible says that the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead lives in us! (Romans 8:11) God’s Holy Spirit brought Jesus back to life and that same Spirit lives in us to help us shine like Jesus. When the Holy Spirit lives in us, we become full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

If you wish, continue by reading John 20:1-22, the account of the disciples discovering that God had raised Jesus from the dead.

Relevant Scripture

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Romans 8: 11 “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.”

1 John 3:24 “Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us.”

The laundry sniff test

This activity is best done just before laundry day in your home so there will be plenty of dirty clothes to use as props. Begin by hiding a pile of dirty laundry somewhere in the house.

Use the discussion questions and key concepts from the hands-on option “we must confess, dirty clothes make a mess!” in the righteousness lesson.

Relevant Scripture

Isaiah 1:16-18 “ ‘. . . wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of My sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ ”

Proverbs 28:13 “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

We must confess, dirty clothes make a mess!

This activity is best done just before laundry day in your home so there will be plenty of dirty clothes to use as props. Begin by asking your children to go to their bedrooms and hide all their dirty clothing inside the clothes they are wearing. Alternatively, you can ask them to hide all their laundry somewhere in the house. Use the discussion questions to help your children understand the correlation between the mess that dirty clothes create, and the “mess” of sin in our hearts.

Questions for discussion
  • What would happen if we never washed our clothing?
  • How would our home smell if we never washed our clothes?
  • Would leaving all of our laundry dirty cause any other problems?
  • If you visited someone’s house and it smelled of dirty laundry, would you want to visit there again?
  • Read Isaiah 1:16-18. What can we compare our dirty clothing to?
  • Do you think God is more concerned about your bedroom being clean or your heart being clean?
  • Read 1 John 1:9. How can you get the sin washed out of your heart?
  • Whose job is it to pick up dirty clothes and put them in the hamper?
  • Who washes the clothing?
  • Who should confess their sin?
  • Who washes the sin out of our lives?
Key concepts

If our laundry was left unwashed, the whole house would eventually begin to smell. Wearing dirty clothing can also cause a person to smell. Dirty laundry is like having sin in our hearts that we have not confessed. To God, that sin stinks.

Just as it was impossible to hide the smell of your dirty clothes by stuffing them under your shirt or somewhere else in the house, it is impossible to hide our sins from God. And just as it is our responsibility to pick up our own soiled clothing, so it is each person’s responsibility to tell God he or she is sorry for the sin he/she has done. A parent can wash clothing, but they can’t wash a child’s heart. Washing our sin away is something only God can do. The Bible tells us that when we confess our sins, God will forgive our wrongdoing and will purify us (that is, get rid of any unrighteousness in us). God loves us so much that He gets rid of our sins completely when we confess them.

Relevant Scripture

Isaiah 1:16-18 “ ‘Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of My sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ ”

Proverbs 28:13 “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

Psalm 103:11-12 “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”