What character trait do I use for my instruction, when I want my family to work together to achieve a task? I tried to look at this from a few different perspectives – collaborative learning in schools, being a team player in sports, and working as a team in work situations. I kept coming back with the same thoughts. Team work, being a team member etc is an application of several different character traits; I don’t see it as a trait on its own.
The key Character traits required in a successful team are:
- Obedience – a team needs a leader, a team follows
- Availability – this addresses the heart, willingness to be a part of that team
- Diligence– this addresses the need for everyone to have the skills required for the task at hand
- Tolerance – this addresses our accepting of one another’s weaknesses
- Loyalty – where the team is committed, knows there is no “out”, and sticks with the team through hard times
- Love – where we put others first, to encourage and serve one another.
Team work starts with acknowledging that everyone belongs together and is committed to each other. This is the family unit.
Then a family needs to have an identity. We are the Letchfords – unique in design and purpose, different from any other family. This identity comes largely from the father and mother; their vision for their family (what does God require of you). This then needs to be imparted to the children through the parents living and believing it themselves, as well as talking about it.
My goal is to work together as a Family,
to be a Family.
The above character traits are necessary if we are to move towards our goal, accomplish our purpose. In a family setting though, I would use the wording “team” only to describe the “family” in a teaching situation, rather than having “teamwork” as my goal. Children are familiar with the concept of a team so it is a picture that can be painted but I wouldn’t settle for us being a team – we are a God-made Family.
There are many times that we pull together to get a task done – daily housework is such an occasion. The times where I have felt the kids weren’t “with” me I would remind them of our goal/purpose, and remind them that as a family we are responsible for our home. I would then focus on one of the character traits that I felt was missing on that day and my pep talk would come from that perspective.
The times where one child is “sticking” I would take them aside and let them know that they are not functioning as a part of the family. That they are thinking of themselves – and that our family is made up of all of us, working together.
I think this is the biggest challenge to the concept of a family – individualism. We have to find the balance between encouraging our children to be the people God has made them be, but within the setting of a family. Individualism tears a team a part, so too a family. The answer to individualism is other-centeredness; thinking of other people. It takes constant effort to point out to our children that their motives, their heart as self-focused rather than on the other person. We need to educate them, point it out to them, so much that they can start to see this in themselves. We need to elevate God’s standard, to love one another, so regularly that it becomes a part of their thinking.
One such way to elevate the good that we want to see in our children is to use the moral reason why in our instructions.
- “Daniel, please get a water bottle for Jessica too, that would be helpful.”
- “Joshua, your sister is carrying a big load over there, you have an opportunity to be a big brother.”
- “Jessica, please read your brother a story, I appreciate your giving time to help me out”
- “Naomi, you need to clean the bathroom, so that it is pleasant for when our guests arrive.”
Our instructions need to always give them a heart attitude to respond to as well as a physical task.