Though your kids may not necessarily want to hear it, an important piece of Christian parenting advice I can give you is that they need to learn that God says work is good, and that we all ought to be committed to hard work!
• “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8).
The ant makes a great teaching illustration for children. If you come across some busy ants in the lawn, seize the moment and illustrate the importance of work by watching the ants with your child (taking precautions not to get stung).
If you’re lucky, you’ll see some ants carrying some objects that are bigger than the ants themselves. They are hard workers.
God tells us to look at how hard the ants work and learn a lesson from them. Just as they work hard, God wants us to work hard.
Here are some interesting facts from Scripture about work:
• God appointed man to work right after He created man (Genesis 2:15).
• It is by working that we obtain our daily provisions of food and support ourselves (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
• God desires that we find satisfaction in our work (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20).
• An important part of learning good work habits is being self-dependent — taking the initiative to do a good job by yourself (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).
• God is our example in work. God worked for six days in creating the universe and then rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2-3).
• Jesus worked hard as a carpenter — a trade He learned from His father Joseph (Mark 6:3).
• The apostle Paul worked hard as a tent maker. He spent a lot of his time in ministry, but he supported himself financially by making tents (Acts 18:3).
Teaching Your Child to Work
Below are five important factors to keep in mind in teaching your children to work.
1. Give your children hands-on instruction. Don’t assume your children know how to do the tasks you assign them. If you assign your child to clean out the garage, for example, go to the garage and demonstrate how to do it. Show them where the bikes go. Show them how to hang the tools. Show them how to sweep. Remember — kids learn by imitation.
2. As much as possible, try to make your child’s work assignments have a certain level of fun. For example, when cleaning out the garage, let them bring their iPod to the garage so they can listen to their favorite songs as they work.
3. Give them plenty of encouragement. Compliment them when they’ve done a good job. Show appreciation. Try to make it a positive experience and give them a sense of accomplishment. Remind them that they are contributing to the running of the household when they work. They’ll remember this sense of fulfillment the next time they’re assigned a task.
4. When you assign your child a task, have a standard of excellence in requiring your child to do a good job. They need to learn this standard of excellence in the home — for this standard will be crucial to their success throughout their time in school as well as in their future careers. They may complain on occasion about this standard, but it will be well worth the effort.
5. Start your child working at a young age. Work should not take the place of fun and games. Allow plenty of time for fun. But also require some work assignments that are appropriate for their age. They can learn to tidy up their rooms, pick up their toys, put dirty clothes in a basket, dry the dishes, cut coupons (with safety scissors), and other tasks such as these.
By keeping these factors in mind, we can help our children learn healthy work habits that will stick with them throughout their lives.
 I am indebted to Jean Lush for these helpful suggestions. See “Teaching Children to Work,” in Raising Them Right (Colorado Springs, CO: Focus on the Family Publishing, 1994), pp. 66-70.
— Dr. Ron Rhodes