At a friend's baby shower I overheard a woman talking about some of her family ways: kid chore systems, memorizing the Bible and homeschooling. I couldn't help but turn a critical ear when I heard her "key" to easy Scripture memory. This is a part of the series of My 13 Most Influential Decisions in the Last 13 Years. Go check it out if you haven't already read it.
She paid her kids to memorize the Bible.
I was shocked.
I marched right over there and listened more closely. Certainly she had a reason for this practice! It seemed absurd to me...giving money out in exchange for hiding God's Word in your heart, but I had to know more.
She surprised me. Tiny rabbit trail: I often find myself surprised when I ask a question instead of creating an assumption.
After a loving interrogation, I began to question myself! Paying kids to memorize the Bible? Why would I do that? Why wouldn't I? Eventually, I adopted her philosophy.
Money is Not Evil - Loving It Is
When I heard that she used dollars and the Bible together my stomach sort of cringed. I felt queasy just thinking about it. But money is merely a currency for exchange. It's a symbol of value. In the past I could have given my children salt to memorize verses. Money is a means and we place value on it.
I want my children to value memorizing Bible verses so I will offer them something I value in exchange for their time.
Children like money. Parents like lesson. Why not combine them?!
Maybe you have an altruistic child. I have two of those. They like to help people. Having money opens ways to be generous to others. The more money they have, the more I can teach them to be good stewards, be a blessing and to save.
Perhaps your child isn't naturally thoughtful. I have one of those as well! In that case, he is given ideas for how to spend his money wisely. We monitor/pray for his motives more closely, and choose his verses very strategically. God's Word will do the work of the heart.
Opportunity vs Command
We do not command our children to memorize Bible verses.
It's an opportunity. Scripture is highly valued in our home. The Bible says to hide God's Word in our hearts so we won't sin against Him. There's a direct connection between our actions and what we put into our minds.
But, as parents, we get to choose what we command and what we model. In this case, we offer opportunities to gain something of value (money) by memorizing something of the highest value (God's Word). Now that's a win-win situation!
I mentioned modelling. It's one of the most important tasks of a parent.
As Charlotte Mason would say, "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life." The atmosphere, or environment, that children are raised in largely depends on the habits of the parent.
If my children see me eating BBQ potato chips, they will want to copy me. If I yell at them, they are more likely to yell at one another. If my children see me memorizing the Bible, they may join in, especially with the added incentive of being paid.
So, my first order of business is to begin memorizing Bible verses myself. I didn't put pressure on myself to build this habit before beginning the kid's plan. We started together! And I even paid myself in the beginning. Why not?
Trying vs. Commitment
I remember my first reaction to this practice of paying children to memorize the Bible. It's such an easy straight-forward process, but one I immediately questioned. It seemed wrong.
But upon further investigation, and after asking effective questions, I became supportive.
It didn't happen all at once, but I allowed myself to try. We gathered a few simple verses and wrote them down on note cards. I used the Navigator's Topical Memory System as a guide and got started!
I'm not a systematic person, but it has served our family well. When I originally heard that mom, I doubted her ways. But I am grateful that, instead of dismissing the information, I allowed myself space to consider and to try.
Commitment came later.
What might we miss if we only pay attention to first impressions?
Have you ever initially rejected something or someone and then come to support it over time? What did that looks like in your life?