Missions is…..Ocassionally being a Jerk

Every year around thanksgiving I get a shipment of one or two “Christmas barrels” 1. Among the items received, I usually get new “bible club dollars” (shown above) and large bags of Jolly Ranchers candy.

those items are used to reinforce good behaviour during bible lessons, or reading programs. Children receive dollars as they obey, and usually the one with the most dollars gets a jolly rancher.

I do give out more than one sometimes, and on rare occasions give one out to each in the group, but try to focus on giving only one to the best behaved2.

There is a simple reason for this

the behaviour we reward is the behaviour that will grow

It’s interesting to notice how much we reward poor behaviour without even meaning to. For instance, often its the student who always talks or mis-behaves during class to gets the teachers attention. The child who always does what they are supposed to is very rarely recognised.

Of course, the good grades they receive are recognition in itself, but many well-behaved students will develop bad habits because it brings them attention. I am not saying a teacher should let the students behave however they want, but the students who never cause trouble should be honoured.

To help emphasise good behaviour I use a variation of the rules from Child Evangelism Fellowship

  1. Sit up
  2. Look up
  3. Listen up
  4. Hand up
  5. And zip up 3

it isn’t uncommon for one of the kids to not follow a rule (talk constantly) and then expect a jolly rancher when we are done. Though at times I have mercy on them, usually they don’t get one so the correct behaviour is strengthened.

This means occasionally there are tears…..but interestingly those tears disappear after they realise I’m still not giving out a reward.

it is true I am sort of being a jerk (someone being very hateful) by not giving everyone a jolly rancher. But saying “no” and meaning it develops character.

Last week I visited a family with two sisters and a brother. The youngest girl who is five didn’t pay attention to my story even after her brother and sister asked her to stop talking. When it came time for a reward, she didn’t get one, and immediately burst into tears.

Because I loved that child, and wanted her to develop the right habits, I refused to give her one.

This week I came back, and she again didn’t pay attention to me, more interested in playing a game on a phone. When it came time to give out a jolly rancher I wondered what would happen.

Her sister got one, and she didn’t say a word…..

Not one tear……

Not one frown….

Because she knew that she didn’t deserve one.

It doesn’t feel good being a jerk sometimes, but it glorifies God when saying no develops christian character.

  1. They come in a discounted price over the holidays, and that begins in November
  2. I focus on effort since it’s easier for some children to sit and beg quiet than others.
  3. They aren’t allowed to say shut up

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