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  • Writer's pictureHope Stuart

HOPE in Yoke

I’m sure you are thinking a few things after reading the title of this post. Ummm…. Hope, do you mean yolk, like an egg yolk? Nope… I mean the type of yoke that is used to harness animals. Okay, Hope… so if you are talking about that type of yoke, how on earth can you find HOPE in that? Well, if you have read enough HOPE posts, you know that God loves irony and can infuse HOPE into anything that seems to be without HOPE.

A recent devotional lead me to Lamentations 3. Full disclosure, I tend to avoid the Old Testament. Lord, please forgive me. I find it exhausting reading the unfamiliar names, along with all the laws that existed during the time before Jesus walked this world. However, every now and then, God guides me to the Old Testament and I discover a new appreciation of these Books. Specifically, I landed on Lamentations 3:27 “It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.” Bear the yoke in his youth… God is saying that it is good for a man to have worked when he was a child.

It has been said that everything we need to know we learn in Kindergarten. As I reflect on my Kindergarten teaching days, I find a great deal of validation in Lamentations 3:27. There are many foundational principles gained during the Kindergarten experience. You learn how to share, you gain foundational literacy and mathematical concepts, you learn responsibility, and you learn how to be a good person. You also learn what it means to be a helper and have chores. Yes, weekly my Kindergarten students rotated through the helper chart where each one had a specific responsibility. My students ate it up and asked for more. Their parents caught on quickly and started chore charts at home. While each chore may not have always been applied perfectly, my students understood how to work on developmentally appropriate tasks by the age of five.

At an early age, our son knew the importance of work within the context of our home and family. As an only child, we insisted he grow up to be an independent person who valued the importance of work. I vividly remember calling my mother who was watching Hunter overnight while we were at a wedding. She sounded a bit unnerved upon answering. When I asked her if anything was wrong, she told me, “You could have told me your son knows how to make his own breakfast.” I guess she was surprised that our four-year-old could get himself up, find the frozen waffles in the freezer, and place them in the toaster. I, on the other hand, was not. We had modeled for Hunter how to find the waffles, carefully use the toaster, and get out a plate. We then supervised him in mimicking those steps until we were confident that he would be safe and successful.

I admit, it is MUCH easier doing things for your children when they are younger. Modeling and supervising take time and patience. However, when they are older, those earlier lessons translate into bigger responsibilities across an array of contexts; making our busy lives as parents easier. Yes, our son learned to be industrious at an early age and we are so proud of the work ethic he has acquired because of it. Don’t get me wrong, he is still a teenager… ugh! However, he is a teenager who makes sure his homework is always complete, tracks his progress regarding his academic and athletic goals, chooses to work at a local restaurant on the weekends, and has amassed an impressive amount of community service hours inspiring his superintendent to highlight him in the local paper. I wholeheartedly believe his work ethic was molded with frozen waffles. 😊

Teamwork makes the dreamwork… and the first team your children are on is your family team. The teamwork you inspire in your children will reap benefits for them, along with your family, that will last through and beyond your lifetime. The sweat equity they experience in their youth will compound interest for years to come, inspiring them to become hard workers who apply dedication, drive, and determination to every task they approach.

Before closing, let’s take the yoke concept one step further. As Christians, we are to do ALL things for God’s glory; praising Him and glorifying His name in ALL we do. Since we work most of our lifetime, there are many opportunities to glorify God in our occupations. And when we are industrious in Jesus’ name, He gives us the strength, wisdom, comfort, and HOPE to attain ALL tasks… even the impossible ones. In Matthew 11:30, Jesus says, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Everything we do in His name can be easy and light as we surrender control to Him.

As parents, we can lighten our children’s adult load by teaching them industry at an early age while immersing them in God’s Word and modeling Jesus’ character, light, and HOPE. The earlier and more often we fill our children’s lives with Jesus, the lighter their adult life will be as they learn to surrender their finances, their worries, their struggles, and yes… even their work to Jesus. It’s never too late to bring Jesus onto your family team. Introduce industry in Jesus’ name today… your children will thank you for it tomorrow.

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