Pastoral Perspectives

How Do You Raise Gracious Children?

    The topic of grace has been a hot one recently where we hear or see different surveys on the topic of “the most livable city, the most caring city, the most happy city and so forth”. Seems that growing up in a fast-paced, rough and none-too-gracious society reduces our sensitivity and graciousness of the people around us. Having spent some years in the west, I learn to clear my tray after eating at a fast food center. The simple act of giving up your MRT seat to a pregnant lady or any needy person should not require legislation.

            Sir Winston Churchill was wise to say: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”Some feel it takes a generation (or two) to eradicate bad habits. I agree, but it really begins with a change of mind and heart. What are we teaching our children today in the aspect of graciousness? For those of us who drive, road courtesy is a challenge. I believe many of us do encounter unpleasant experiences with rude and ungracious drivers – those who honked at you and showed gesture of impatience. Simple daily happenings like the use of public restrooms, the treating of domestic helpers and other foreign workers with respect generates concerns from the public. Whether we like it or not, whatever our response may be, we are giving our children on-the-job training (OJT) on how we behave as adults. Unknowingly, we have sown seeds of ungraciousness to our children who learn a great deal watching how we, as parents handle daily situations.

            Proverbs 22:11: “He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.” Graciousness is the most beautiful character trait. A gracious person is often described as a beautiful or charming person. Whether man or woman, graciousness makes a person delightful, pleasant, and winning. Graciousness begins with a pure heart. Bitterness, envy, or strife in the heart is from hell, and leads to all sort of confusion and evil (Jas 3:14-16). The Bible is full of lessons on graciousness. If you think kindly about others, rule your spirit, and guard your tongue, you will be gracious! The perfect place to practice is at home with spouse, parents, children, or siblings, where you are generally the least gracious. With the blessing of God, the king will soon be your friend! What else can you do?

            Parents, teach your children graciousness! Instead of wasting your life and their minds with the profitless drivel of today’s education model, work on this great character trait that pleases God and men. It will do more for their future success than memorizing the periodic table of elements! Can you define graciousness? Can they define it? Can you illustrate it daily in their sibling relationships? Can you apply it to the various situations with people we encounter everyday?

            We may not think this is a big deal, but small actions can have big repercussions. Let’s watch our daily actions consciously. We must only preach the “same set” of values to our kids. Do the right thing and they will learn the right thing. If we Christians are more gracious in our speech, others would be attracted to our faith. Since the Founder and Teacher of Christianity, the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, had a perfectly pure heart and totally gracious speech, it is a disgraceful shame when His followers have neither! Let graciousness begin with us, as individuals—to repay unkindness with kindness, to smile when we enter the elevator, to spare a thought for the next person using the toilet after you, to resist the urge to speed up, but instead, slow down to allow the signaling car to filter into your lane in front of you. In doing so, we can build a gracious society.

Pastor Cheng Huat

October 7, 2012