To Take initiative, or Not. THAT is the Question!

Even though taking initiative is not widely discussed in scripture, I believe that it is a scriptural concept and is a good character quality to have – and I want my children to develop that quality...


You see, taking initiative means seeing what needs to be done and doing it without being asked, but it does not always work out exactly as planned.

For example:
One day, in order to save time before rushing off to soccer practice, I put some frozen meat pies into the oven before the oven indicated that it was heated to the proper temperature. A few minutes later I came into the kitchen and found that the pies had been removed from the oven. Upon inquiry, I discovered that my oldest child had heard the “oven ready” beep, which sounds remarkably similar to the oven timer, and had taken them out of the oven for me! I put them back into the oven and went on about my business. When it was time for the pies to come out of the oven, I was shocked to see that they appeared to be little more than ice cold. Puzzled, I checked to see what could be the problem and discovered that the oven had been turned off the whole time. It seems that my son had not only taken them out of the oven, he had taken the initiative to turn it off at the same time so as not to forget (something which we have done a few times – including a time when we had to go back home after leaving for vacation because I had left the oven on...
With bacon in it!).

Making mommy's bed.

When Olivia was two she liked to help with the laundry. Once I was putting laundry into the machine, only to discover that bits of clothing from other sorted piles had been added and I began frantically pulling out sopping wet clothes. She also helped me “sort” the clean laundry and took delight in moving the clothes from one child’s basket to another. Sometimes the kids figured it out and gave the clothing back to the proper owner, but other times they didn’t even notice. The result of this was that one child would come out wearing another child's jeans, wondering why they were water high, or why they were unable to button them, or a child would say, "Why are you wearing my shirt?" And the other would reply, "Mom gave it to me. It was in my basket."
Another time, my husband bought a new brand of hair gel and I set it on the sink in the bathroom instead of putting it away. Later that day my daughter went into the bathroom to wash her hands and, seeing that the soap dispenser was nearly empty, she filled it with the hair gel, since the gel looked similar to the soap that I buy. Fortunately, I caught her before anyone could cover their hands in sticky goo. Unfortunately, I over-reacted and had to apologize to her and thank her, instead, for taking initiative.

"Helping" Grandma with the dishes
I know that my mother wanted us to take initiative too, but now I understand why she would get so frustrated with us when we did. When I was thirteen years old my mom was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was in the hospital for a few days. Since I am the second of six children, I could see that the laundry never seemed to be quite done. (It never is with my own six kids now!) I proceeded to wash every single thing in the laundry room. It all went very well, and my mom seemed genuinely pleased - - until she saw the last load that I had washed. All that had been left over after the regular laundry was done were a few random “delicates” like slips and things… and a big red sweater. I had washed everything together and turned it all pink!

It seems that sometimes when children "see what needs to be done and do it" without asking first, they create more work for mom!

I have been struggling with this for several years now as a mother. Some days I have considered calling off the "taking initiative" lessons for that purpose, but since this is a character quality that is important to my husband, I have pressed on.

I think that the lessons are finally starting to work!

I fold laundry on my bed and, occasionally, it will pile up for a couple of hours before it get to it. One evening I stepped into my room and found my little girl folding the laundry. She did not stop until it was all folded! It is not unusual to find this same daughter tidying the playroom all by herself.

Littlest kitchen helper
Tiny boy always wants to help in the kitchen. If he hears the mixer he comes running. He is the self-appointed "electric-mixer-holder."

Just yesterday, I returned from the grocery store and put away all of the refrigerated items before getting the little children a snack, since they were helping and asking excitedly for each new treat they found as they emptied the bags. I left the dry goods for another free moment.  My 13 year old saw these bags and started putting everything away. He even washed and re-organized the shelves so that everything would be easy to find!

I was amazed!

I thanked him, and praised him for taking initiative and doing an excellent job of it, too!

Then I thanked God and praised HIM that all of this hard work in parenting eventually does pay off in our children.

What lessons are you working on with your children? I'd love to hear about them.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galations 6:9


Jedidja said...

Thank you for this glimpse into your life with the rich spiritual lessons. I find that so inspiring to read. Your pictures are cute.

Jen Ferguson said...

This is awesome -- I love stories of how the hard work pays off and how God teaches us through our own children all the time.

Confessions of a Martha said...

Thank you, Jedidja! I don't have a camera so I don't use many of my own pictures in my blog, but these are some moments that I captured with my phone.

Yes Jen, I did not realize that I would learn so much throught the journey of parenting! I am SO glad that God never stops working out His purpose in our lives - even when we are past childhood ourselves.

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