The other day while at a local place of business, I noticed that several of the employees were bustling around doing their jobs. Save one. A teen had plopped on a folding chair, legs extended, proceeding to be on his phone for a majority of the time I was patronizing this business.
A relative of mine has a coworker who routinely shows up late for work, and at times, doesn’t show up for work at all. Such a choice has placed the business in a bind on several occasions. It has also made more work for the employees who take their jobs seriously.
A local business manager shared with me that they are struggling to find help to fill all of their available positions, and when they do find help, a lot of those workers are unreliable.
Poor work ethic seems to have become more prominent. There are several reasons for this:
– Inadequate instruction of the importance of work ethic on the part of their parents, whereby children are “given” everything and not required to earn anything.
– A culture that thrives on a “microwave” mentality of wanting everything right now and lacks the patience to work hard for anything. (Case in point: the new 20-year-old employee who wants to be paid the same amount as the 50-year-old who has been at a company for 15 years).
– Paying people more to sit at home than to work, as has been the case this past year.
– Refusal of employees to acknowledge they are stealing from their employer by way of using company time to scan social media, play video games, or making personal phone calls.
How can we instill the importance of a good work ethic in our children?
Model it. We can hardly expect our children to exhibit a strong work ethic if we ourselves are lazy and uncommitted to hard work.
Practice it. Our children and teens need to see us regularly practicing our own strong work ethic.
Encourage it from an early age. This can be done in the form of helping parents with projects and regular age-appropriate chores.
Clearly communicate what is expected. Explain patiently and thoroughly the task at hand and what is required.
Encourage volunteerism. Doing something for someone without expectation of payment is one of the most critical ways we can instill a powerful work ethic.
Embolden our kids to work for something they want. It is amazing how, when a teen has to pay for something from his or her own funds, that it no longer is a “necessity”. We need to teach our children that things are expensive (and never more than in recent days!) and that someone had to work to afford that “luxury”. When our teens have to pay for something themselves from time to time, they begin to value the importance of the hard work that allowed them to purchase that item.
Encourage them to go the extra mile and to take initiative. My oldest daughter often asks “what can I do to help?” I love it that she coined this phrase (and then acted upon it!) from an early age.
Teach respect for authority. The Bible has much to say about respecting authority. From the time our children are toddlers, we as parents should be teaching them that respecting authority is paramount, with God being our primary authority, followed by parents. If our children are unable to obey their first authority (us, after God), then they will be unable to obey other authorities, i.e., teachers, employers, and the police.
Instill the importance of being a team player.
Teach children that school is one of their first jobs. Whether they are homeschooled or attend a private, charter, or public school, their educational experience is one of their first jobs. A child who takes their education seriously will be better able to grow into a valued employee.
Don’t be afraid to allow “life lessons”. If your teen makes the choice to arrive at work late of his or her own accord, don’t rescue them from the consequences.
Most importantly, encourage your children to remember that whatever they do, do it as if doing it for the Lord (Colossians 3:23).
When my daughters and niece and nephews were toddlers, they could transform our home into a war zone in a matter of minutes. Nearly all of the toys, books, and dress-up clothes from the playroom migrated to other parts of the house in a split second, as five creative minds embarked on whimsical adventures. When it was time for my niece and nephews to return home, we played a game called “Tornado”. I set the oven timer and encouraged the toddlers to become tornadoes. How fast could they whirl around the room and return the items to their homes?
With the fervor and zeal of cyclones, five little kiddos flurried in all different directions, retrieving toys, books, and dress-up clothes and returning them to their rightful homes. They giggled as they sometimes bonked into a fellow “tornado”, and in the generous time allotted, my home soon took on a somewhat clean appearance once again.
Sometimes we, as parents, have to be creative in teaching our children the responsibility that leads to a strong work ethic. But by doing so, we can, with a lot of prayer and help from the Lord, instill in our children a character trait that will impact their lives forever.
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