Until recently, we had "family chores": helping around the house because you were a part of the family and "personal chores": weekly tasks that were the responsibility of one person for which they were given money.
We've implemented a new reward system to replace the "chores equal allowance" formula we've never really loved. The main reason for the change was we began noticing the conscious decision not to do the chores or to whine while doing them when his wallet was stocked with birthday money-which it has been since February. Also, oddly, remarkably more willingness came from his younger sister, who has never taken part in allowance only thanks & praise for good spirits.
The goal is to convey that in our house, each member of our family plays a part because we're a team. The reward is belonging. The motive is love. The attitude, grateful and willing.
Have you seen the Noah movie?
I haven't. But all the buzz got me to re-read his story in Genesis. Here's what stood out to me:
Noah obeyed because he loved and feared God. Not because God promised a reward for such obedience. Other than the preservation of his family, Noah wasn't promised anything for following God's commands and believing God without tangible reason. After the flood, for his blind faithfulness, God rewarded Noah with promises for an abundant future. But what faith! To do such work solely because He loved and believed God!
When my son had a wad of cash, and with it, the freedom to buy candy from the racks in the aisle or purchase a new app at will-you know the basic needs of an 8 year-old-his investment in chores significantly lessened.
Why do the work if I no longer need the reward? Why obey? What's in it for me?
As Christians, this is a tempting pattern for us to fall into also.
Until recently, my argument for following Jesus would have included "It's always worked for me! I've followed His way and He has been faithful to me!"
And there are many promises of blessings for those who obey and curses for those who do not, but what about the times when our faithfulness to Him doesn't equal answered prayers and desires fulfilled? Why remain committed when we aren't receiving the reward?
I love what Tim Keller says, "Is God committed to your happiness? Absolutely. And yet if you come to Him to make you happy, you're coming to a false god. If you say, 'I'm interested in this Christianity, and maybe I'll come bite on it if I can see that it can help me reach my goals and make me happy'. You're not coming to a God, you're coming to a butler.
Either he exists or he doesn't and if you come to him it should be because he created you and he owns you and to not come would be an injustice."
Our new rewards system is largely based on attitude. There are rewards, but specifically not one-for-one because we want our kids to know that sometimes we work hard in life and we don't get directly rewarded. (hello, stay-at-home-moms!)
We want to teach them to choose integrity and wholeheartedness regardless of reward. And judging by the tears last Friday and the agreeable attitude since, it's working. Right now, I'm guessing it's motivated by maximum # of dips into the prize box, but we're hoping one day it will be because they love God and are committed to honoring him.
"Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name..Lord, you will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from you.." Isaiah 26:8,12