Parents need a motto, a catch-phrase that defines a positive way of living at home or school. “Have Fun, Do your Best, and Be a Blessing” is a great place to start. Each component represents both a standard for behavior and a claim on a different aspect of the student’s soul.
Have Fun. Hard work does not have to be spiritless. Learning is not, by nature, dull. Going to school does not have to fill students with dread. They can have fun. Even drudgery can be met with a positive mindset. Fun with their friends and teachers, fun with classes and activities—in a culture of hard work, serious study, and difficult challenges—is not only possible but expected from people who live out “good news.” School will not always be fun, of course, but the idea is to maintain the attitude and disposition that encourages students to enjoy learning, to love challenges, and to enjoy their classmates and teachers, while not taking themselves too seriously.
Do Your Best. To do one’s best requires a healthy self-concept, good judgment, and a realistic view of life’s circumstances. The standard is never perfection, but always excellence with the proviso that although circumstances change and sometimes students are able to devote more time to their studies than at other times, doing their best is all they are expected to do. Balanced students know that setbacks and disappointments are not the end of the world. Consistent application, self-discipline, hard work, and a teachable spirit will produce excellence. Students will do well to also keep in mind the great prayer from Daniel 1:17: “To these four young men, God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.” This prayer, offered in faith, asks God to provide the knowledge or expertise students might lack. It is a prayer for all students but especially for those struggling with a subject area where performance is below desire, expectations, or potential.
Be a Blessing! We are all so hyper-focused on ourselves. Training students to consider others before themselves frees them from the disease of introspection, so common among young people today, and orients them toward selfless giving. Giving to others is a good addiction and blessing others is good medicine. We all share in the blessing given to Abraham—we will be a blessing (Genesis 12:2-3). We are called to turn every wasteland, every valley of trouble into a place of springs (Psalm 84). We are called to be a gift-giving people!