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"...Whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him" (1 Cor. 9:22).

In my last Creative Parenting article (Part Two) I talked about rewards and how you can use them to help lead your children along a good path.

It seems that every time I talk about trying to get children to behave in a better manner through rewards systems that I hear the bribe word. I then usually get a speech from someone that tells me "children should learn to behave just because they love God and it's the right thing to do!"

Whenever I hear someone say that I think, either they don't really have children (and so they are speaking from that which they don't know), or they are parents but don't really have a clue about the reality of how their children think.

How do children think? We can get a clue from a conversation that the Apostle Paul was having with the Corinthian church. He understood children and gave clues to how they think. He was chastising these people because they weren't really acting like adults. They were acting like children.

In 1 Corintians 3:1-3 he said, "Dear brothers, I have been talking to you as though you were still just babies in the Christian life who are not following the Lord but your own desires; I cannot talk to you as I would to healthy Christians who are filled with the Spirit. I have had to feed you with milk and not with solid food because you couldn't digest anything stronger. And even now you still have to be fed on milk. For you are still only baby Christians, controlled by your own desires, not God's...."

The Apostle Paul revealed some things about children when addressing these people for their immature ways. He said they were like babies that didn't follow God but their own carnal desires. He was accurate.

Little children don't understand much in life. They know they just want what they want. They are very carnal in their nature. Many parents and adults have never figured that out. They forget the steps to their own mental maturing and development.

Let me explain.

Maturity and understanding come over time. As humans, we are presented with knowledge. New knowledge begins to expand the borders of our mental process.

Knowledge alone contributes nothing to maturity. When knowledge is acted upon it brings experience. Ask any mother that learned about childbirth prior to having a baby, comparing that to what they knew after they had a baby. They had knowledge but with the experience comes understanding. Over time, knowledge and understanding repeated and acted upon produces wisdom and eventually maturity.

Most parents don't really think about how much their children don't know. They especially don't realize that children reason at the level of what they know and have experienced. They cannot reason like an adult. That's why the chastisement from a parent to a teenage that says, "Oh, grow up and act adult, will you?" doesn't fly well. They assume their children understand more than they really do. They may be expecting too much, especially when it comes to behavior and what they think their child should understand.

Again, as the Apostle Paul pointed out, children follow their own desires. In other words they are carnally minded. It is our goal to move them over to becoming spiritually minded...learning to respond to things for right reasons. That is the process of learning to deny self and carnal ways of thinking. It is a process.

With this in mind, you can use rewards to begin to get your children to respond by appealing to their carnal desires. As they do rightly respond, you can praise them for right behavior. You can reinforce that it's what God wants them to do. You can tell them that God rewards and you are going to as well. It helps move their carnal flesh in the right direction.

How many of you go to work without the reward of your paycheck? It's what you get for what you do. If you are feeling so spiritual, then why don't you give half your paycheck back to your boss just to bless him? After all, he did give you a job.

I'm not being serious but don't be so spiritually minded that you won't admit to your own carnality. The paycheck helps us move out the door and to work when we don't feel like it or we are too tired.

The Apostle Paul had to deal with carnal adults. We will have to appeal to carnal children. It starts by understanding how children think. Paul studied those he ministered to, so he could relate to them better. By doing so He would be more effective in his goals. That is what we have to do with children.

Rewards are good. God understands we need help. He understands we have the flesh to put under. His grace, His answers to prayer, and the provision He supernaturally provides to our requests—they are all rewards for diligently seeking Him.

Use rewards for your children and in every area of life and you will find you are using a God plan!
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Tim Burt
Web site: Todays Fresh Manna
Pastor Tim became a part of the leadership team at Living Word Christian Center in 1984 and served as Associate Pastor from 1989 to 2017. He and His wife Renee, also a Pastor at Living Word, resigned, feeling impressed by God to pursue the tremendous growth of their ministry "Fresh Manna," as well as teaching conferences and seminars, and increasing their involvement on the mission field through Tim & Renee Burt Ministries.

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