Summer Beatitudes Project: The First Key- Do a Good Job Always, to Please God

 

keys on table

Obedience often gets a bad rap these days. The general consensus of society seems to be that “no one can tell me what to do.”

Accepting the word of authority is difficult. It requires humility, a surrendering of ego, and sacrifice. It requires thinking of the good of the whole rather than the benefits to an individual. It requires living for the will of another rather than living by selfish impulses alone.

Yet, this is how Jesus lived every day of His life so that we might have an example to follow.

“I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” John 13:15

Father Dion points out in his book, Keys to the Third Floor: How to Live Religious Life, that the way to live on the third floor (following God’s will alone), is by imitating Christ’s way of living the virtues of obedience and love.

The first Key to the Third Floor, “Do a good job always, to please God”, provided a fitting platform to address the topic of obedience with my children.

I see obedience as a two-way street. I expect my children to obey my husband and me, but I realize that they also expect our requests to be reasonable and respectful of their dignity as persons. I explained to my children that Jesus gave us a profound example of obedience, “even to death on a cross” (Phil 2:8), but that His obedience was rooted in love and trust that God was continually working for His good, and for the good of the rest of the world. I told my children that I have the same reasons for the things I ask them to do–because I love them and want what is best for them.

I encouraged my children to earn their First Key worthily by obeying my requests the first time I asked, finishing the requested task completely, and obeying with a cheerful and respectful demeanor.

In turn, I found myself examining my requests and my reasons behind them, my tone of voice as I delivered them, and my method of correction if the task was not completed to my satisfaction.

One method of correction that I learned from Dr. Greg Popcak is “obedience drills”, which I have found to be highly effective when I take the time to implement them.

Let’s say you ask your nine-year-old son to put the library books that are scattered all over his bedroom floor into the library bag. You leave him to the task, and return a few minutes later to find the books stacked on top of the bag instead of inside it, like you asked. (Let’s also say that you know your son well, and know he will take any shortcut he can to complete an undesirable task more quickly). So you simply say in a non-reactive, non-threatening way, “Okay, that’s pretty close, but I asked you to put the books in the bag. So we’re just going to practice doing that a few times.” After which you proceed to spread the books around the room again so he can “practice” picking them up properly. Do this a few times, and your child will realize that it takes a lot less time and effort to do things the way you requested the first time you ask.

All of this takes time. And effort. And patience. And I often have to remind myself that my children are “in training.” I want to bend their wills in the proper direction without breaking them. I want to tame the flames of their spirits without extinguishing them. I want them to be able to recognize false authority that is not truly looking out for their welfare, but, rather, seeks its own agenda of power and self-interest.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them.” Matt. 7:15-16

I want them to have the meekness to obey the authority of God’s law, but the spirit to confront the “ravenous wolves” and stand for justice when God’s law is challenged by man’s.

I still see temper tantrums, ornery behavior, and mischievous eyes that are dancing in the aftermath of mercilessly teasing a sibling. But I don’t want to see the fire behind those behaviors smothered. Because the same will that vehemently refuses to go to bed is the same will that could put up quite a fight for the pro-life cause. The same spirit that teases the life out of a sibling is the same spirit that could light a parish on fire from the pulpit.

I’m already seeing it in my ten-year-old. The toddler who used to drive me crazy, the little boy who used to laugh when I reprimanded him, now nearly makes me cry sometimes with his displays of maturity, responsibility, and self-control. He still has his moments. He is still “in training”, but I see the potential shining through more all the time.

Obedience. It’s not a tyrant towering over a submissive and frightened push-over. It’s a loving father guiding a willing son down a path to holiness. It’s a two-way street on which both parties are held accountable for their actions. It’s a bond of trust.

Our family spent a week focusing on obedience and “doing a good job always, to please God.”

We posted the following next to our house poster to help us remember the First Key:

On the first sign, we wrote the First Key: “Do a good job always, to please God.”

On the second sign, we wrote a scripture passage to inspire us as we carried out the First Key:

“I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” John 13:15

On the third sign, we wrote the three ways to obey: the first time we ask, completely, and cheerfully.

first key signs

Other Scripture passages that reference obedience:

“I do always the things that are pleasing to him.” John 8:39

“The things, therefore, that I speak, I speak as the Father has bidden me.” John 12:50

“The word which you have heard is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me.” John 14:24

“He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross.” Phil 2:8

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About Charisse Tierney

Charisse Tierney lives in Newton, Kansas, with her husband and five children: Owen, James, Hazel, Henry, and Faith. Charisse and her husband, Rob, teach Natural Family Planning for the Couple to Couple League and have experience teaching Theology of the Body for Teens to high school and middle school students through their parish in Kansas. Charisse holds bachelor and master degrees in music performance. A professionally trained clarinetist and pianist, Charisse has always held a deep love for writing and her Catholic faith. Charisse is the Assistant Editor at Catholic Attachment Parenting Corner, catholicap.com and can also be found at catholicmom.com
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