Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Mama’s K.I.S.S. Number 12 – The Never-Say-No Rule

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One of the most requested topics this year on my speaking circuit has been a lesson in which I list a hundred ideas for training our kids to be servants. Service oriented kids grow up to be productive adult servants in the kingdom and it’s those people to whom the Lord will say, “Come ye blessed of my Father,” according to Matthew 25. So it matters if I’m making a real effort, as a mom, to put the heart of a servant in my child. For this reason, I’ve decided to devote a post, every now and then, to a service suggestion—a simple idea for moms to make their homes busy service centers for young hearts and hands. I’d love to hear from those of you who try them. So here goes:
The Never-Say-No Rule
Recently after speaking about this one, I got an email from a mom who just could not understand how I could ever make this rule at my house. “If you never say “no” to any of the good opportunities presented, will you not just go stark, raving mad?” she protested.
The never say no rule is not for faithful adults. It’s true. If I said “yes” to every opportunity presented, even in the church, I would not be productive. I would be insane. But it’s different for kids.
As Caleb and Hannah were growing up, we had the never-say-no rule. It started very early (as soon as they could say the word “yes”, which, as with all kids, came a while after they could say the word “no”). It was hard and fast. Unless they were sick or it was humanly impossible for them to honor any request made of them for public service in the church. or individual responsibility in the body, they just automatically said “yes”. This started so early that they could never even remember having a choice. I know some will argue that choice is a vital part of Christianity from the heart. I agree. But I also think early training for proper choices is beneficial to the molding of the heart that chooses Christ. Getting comfortable in certain public and private roles at a very young age–before the shyness, reservations, and inhibitions set in–is a plus later on. Glenn and I still believe it was the right thing for our kids. We didn’t coax Caleb into song leading when he was twelve. He was chomping at the bits to do this because he was invited and complied long before that. We didn’t give our kids a choice about whether or not they were going to the nursing home on Sunday afternoon for the services, because the “rule” had already decided that. They never got to a stage of hating to be around that nursing home smell or being embarrassed by nursing home indiscretions. If Hannah was asked to pick up the communion cups after worship on Sunday, she didn’t have to think about it. Unless there was a real reason for declining–a true inability–any assigned job or requested action for the church was just performed in auto-pilot.
Of course, there has come a time when both kids have come to the same point of inundation as their parents; the point at which all Christians have to weigh opportunities and choose which ones can feasibly be accomplished and which might be more efficient for Him. I think probably that inundation is due, at least in part, to the never-say-no rule. Figuring out which opportunities to grab–well, that’s a good problem to have. It’s just a proven fact: saying “yes” to opportunities, good ones or bad ones, brings more of the same.
Of course we didn’t do this or anything else flawlessly. Of course, we had our slip-ups, our discouraging days and our times of falling before the Father and pleading for parenting wisdom. Of course, we made poor decisions that wrought havoc along the way. The purpose of the Mama’s K.I.S.S. series is to throw out the good ideas that might help kids develop servant hearts. Looking back, we think this was one rule that served the kids well. I guess it was really God’s idea first: “To him that knows to do good and does it not, to him it’s sin” (Jas. 4:17)
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