Training Up a Child

The best way to make children good is to make them happy.    

Wilde

When I first looked at this quote, I was struck that something was out of place. After looking at it a while I realized that something was out of order. With no disrespect to Mr. Wilde, a more accurate statement would be: "The best way to make children happy is to make them good".

I know that this is true from 30 years of working with youth groups. When I first started I thought along the same lines as Mr. Wilde and tried to make all the youth gatherings as fun and exciting as possible. This worked for a while but after a period of time I noticed that the teens needed more and more excitement or they would become bored.

Then we tried something different. Our youth group began meeting one night each week during the summer to mow lawns for our widows at church. At first, the response was about what you might expect. The kids who were so used to being entertained were a bit put out about having to work instead of being entertained. Some shirked their work, while others simply chose not to show up at all.

But, as the summer moved along, an amazing transformation took place. When the kids saw how much their efforts were needed (and appreciated), they began to attack their work with a greater enthusiasm that soon turned to joy. The widows enjoyed the relief of a big burden and the entire church appreciated the fact that their kids were becoming servants. Many from within the community also took notice and responded in a very positive way. Some began to attend just to get their kids involved with this simple act of loving-kindness.

But the most impressive thing of all was that these young men and women became happy because they first began to do good.

Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.   

Proverbs 22:6, KJV