My teenage son was not a happy camper. Danny had committed himself to helping with our church’s remodel project, but I wasn’t able to drive him into town that evening.
Silently fuming, Danny disappeared into the makeshift garage on the other side of our property. A couple of hours later, I wandered out there to see how he was doing.
To my surprise, our humble garage had experienced transformation. Camping gear, tools, car and garden supplies….everything was neatly organized and inventoried.
Nearly rendered speechless, I thanked Danny and commended him for his excellent choice. He had taken the energy he’d wanted to invest in the church project and, instead of pouting or breaking something, he’d thrown himself into a project for our family.
We immediately bought Danny a full box of football cards as a reward.
Here’s the thing: children need rewards for a job well done. They need a tangible “thank you” for their good choices and their efforts. They need these things in the same way we need them from our heavenly Father.
Scripture makes it clear that God is preparing an eternal reward for those who love and obey him. Believers can earn five specific crowns. In the words of the old Keith Green song, our “trials turn to gold.”
God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” — Romans 2:6
Back in my Bible college days, the professor of my Hebrews class was teaching about how God loves to reward his children. One of the students questioned this idea.
“Shouldn’t we just obey God because we love him?” he queried.
That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Sounds really spiritual and all. The only problem is, it’s not realistic. Even Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before him.” (Heb. 12:2)
Rewards motivate us. They speak a message to our hearts. They say, “Good job!” in a tangible way.
So please do reward your children. Set up chore charts with measurable goals and specific, reasonable rewards. Give your kids a special gift or experience when they go above and beyond the call of duty.
Jump on that.
One caveat: be careful not to over-reward your child. Little League coaches who hand out trophies to kids just for showing up at practice are not doing them a favor.
Such a “reward” sends the wrong message –a message of entitlement. As a Christian parent, you need to swim upstream against culture on this one. You don’t want to raise a narcissist.
Make your rewards commensurate to the effort and attitude your child displays.
Let’s say your daughter set the dinner table all week. Great! Give her a page of her favorite stickers, not a trip to Disneyland.
This teaches her about real life and prevents her from thinking she deserves something super special for every ordinary chore.
The goal is character development. Appropriate, reasonable rewards help your child attain the self-discipline he or she needs to continue making wise choices into adulthood.
Remember, while you parent your children, your heavenly Father is parenting you. Watch how he does it. Follow his example.
Use appropriate rewards to honor good deeds, and watch your child’s depth of character flourish.
Without overdoing it, how might you reward your son or daughter this week for a job well done?