As a kid in elementary school, I always wanted to win the “citizen of the month” awards. Every time the teachers gathered us into the cafeteria, I waited with baited breath for my name to be called out. Never once did I receive that coveted piece of paper.
It wouldn’t have been so bad if the kids who GOT the awards were really all the teachers thought they were. I mean, if they really were kind, sharing, caring individuals, I would have been good with it. But the truth is, lots of times these kids were stinkers under the table. They made fun of the underprivileged, pushed a kid when no one was looking, marked on someone else’s paper. They tattle-taled at every turn. You know the kind I’m talking about.
So I have a new term around here. The kid who seems to be so shiny bright but in secret is slaying his siblings…that’s my “citizen of the month.” It’s code for: nice when everyone is looking and mean as stink when they are out of eyesight or earshot from any adult. Moms and dads, you gotta watch out for the kid that knows how to wow you with kindness outwardly. In front of everyone — this kid can do the “good kid dance” pretty enough to make Michael Jackson look like he has two left feet. But behind their bedroom door little brother is always crying saying his older sibling is mean.
I remember one time the “citizen of the month” at school was sharing his Twizzlers with me at lunch as the teacher walked past…but under the table he was kicking my shin. Unfortunately, I have seen the same thing recently with some friends of my older children. Kids that seemed like perfect ladies and gentlemen when the adults were around, but when it was just a group of kids, these teens were leading the charge into trouble.
Jesus even talked about this…the people who would give lots of money into the poor box for a great show in front of large crowds…the Pharisees who would make long prayers in front of people as a pretense for their “great spirituality”…doing all their good works and fasting in such a way that everyone would look on AT THEM and glorify THEM, instead of their Heavenly Father.
Make sure you teach your child to do good things, but to be joyful when no one notices…because God will reward them openly for those works done from a good motive and without fanfare. Take your child on “secret missions” where you bless the socks off of someone clandestinely, and swear junior to secrecy. God will reward you both in an amazing way. Junior’s “look at me, I’m a good boy” attitude will forever disappear when he experiences God’s open blessings for good works done undercover.
So I never got my “citizen of the month” award, but my goals are a bit different today. I am looking to raise dozens of citizens of the century, who make the love of Jesus known to a world hurting and desperate for His hope. You can do this with me, if you focus on not just teaching junior to be good and to do good, but to love openly and work hard at blessing others secretly.
The reward is way better than some plaque…and lasts eternally.