Stacy and I used to lead a family camping trip at James River State Park for quite a few families in our Bible Fellowship group at church. It was always a blast. And there were always challenges. We’ve done a 7 mile stretch on the James River with over 50 folks in kayaks and canoes multiple times.
When we gathered all the campers together on Friday evening, my first rule was always…
There’s absolutely NO COMPLAINING.
The parents all cheered and then I told them that the rule was primarily for them, not their kids. Here’s why…
Children are watching. They learn from us and follow our examples. So, when you’re frustrated because your child is complaining, stop and take note. Somehow, somewhere they learned to complain from you. I’m convinced of this truth. And a matter of fact I may declare it to be a Mike Young Maxim.
Children complain because parents complain.
If you are willing to suffer a bit, endure some hardship, do a hard job, face a challenge… with joy rather than misery… your children will learn that they can be joyful even in difficult times. Truly, they can experience joy even when they aren’t happy.
I call it ‘practicing discomfortabilty’.
When I read this post from Pastor Gary Moritz, I was reminded of our camping adventures as well as a season when I worked with 4th and 5th grade boys at our church. We actually created uncomfortable experiences for them so we could talk about how they may be called to go to hard places and do hard things so others may hear the good news of salvation that comes through Jesus.
Christ endured the discomfort of the cross for us. But too often unless we have air-conditioned rooms and cushioned seats, we aren’t willing to go tell the good news of Christ. Friends, this should not be!
So, Dad, pray over this.
Ask God how you might create some reasonably uncomfortable and challenging situations for your family over the summer.
Teach them to endure without complaining. Teach them to choose joy. Model this for them. Practice discomfortabilty with an eye on how God might use your resilience, and theirs, to grow His Kingdom!