After the school bus pulled away this morning, I stood chatting with several of our neighbors. One of the neighbors owns a landscaping company. Another neighbor works for a large company that analyzes information. Even though the people working for these companies come from vastly different backgrounds, it was interesting to note that both of my neighbors are struggling with the exact same problem:

 

Their employees do not want to work.

 

As I listened, I thought back to conversations with my own husband, who also struggles with employees who expect to move ahead in their careers, despite a complete lack of invested effort.

 

Each of these supervisors/business owners do not mind training someone; however, they need individuals who are willing to W-O-R-K.

 

The landscaping company owner then complained that his own son won’t mow his lawn, so how is he supposed to teach his employees to work? Good question. How do we teach our children to work?

 

Hmm … I decided to go to my field experts, my teenage daughters, “How can a parent teach a child to work?”

 

Thirteen-year-old’s response, “Um, by telling them to work? That’s how you raised us!”

 

Sixteen-year-old’s response, “We had to work. If we didn’t, you’d give us extra chores!”

 

That’s true. When I was a younger mother, I struggled to find a way to break through our firstborn child’s defiant, sassy stage of life—the tween years. Finally, I stumbled upon the perfect cure! I made him work.

 

If he sassed me, he received a chore.

 

I’ll never forget the time I was taking down Christmas lights in the bitter January cold. My twelve-year-old son stood in our front lawn, mouthing off at me. He was cold and didn’t want to be out there, helping Mom. Honestly, it would have been easier to tell him to go to his room, but my innate stubbornness was NOT going to let him win this war of wills.

 

When his rude attitude escalated and his voice got louder, I simply started holding up fingers. Each time he spoke, I raised an additional finger. I quietly reiterated that if he was going to be rude to Mom, he could do a chore for each finger.

 

He looked around and noticed the neighbors across the street watching and seemed to think it was a good idea to continue to argue. I informed him that I didn’t care what the neighbors thought, my life’s job isn’t to impress my neighbors, it’s to raise decent kids … and I raised another finger.

 

He got to 9 fingers before he stopped sassing me and started stomping around, cleaning up the decorations.

 

Having my children do chores is a miracle cure for ANY rude, sassy attitude I have encountered. It might take them a chore or two before they work out the steam they’ve built up. They might even earn an additional chore if they can’t keep their mouth shut while they’re doing a chore. However, every, single time I use this method, it works like a charm.

 

Now, that twelve-year-old is almost a full year into his mission. He has worked with companions that he loves and companions that were difficult. This last transfer, I asked him how he does it. How do you work with, live with, and communicate with someone who gets on your nerves and who you really don’t like?

 

His response reminded me again of the incredible power of WORK:

 

I focus on learning my area, loving those I teach, and loving those in my area. The rest works itself out.

I have plenty of moments when I get frustrated. But if I focus on the work, God helps! The way I look at it is that as a missionary, our job is to serve others, and find those who need the gospel, so if I fulfill that, everything else works out!

 

What an incredible life skill: the ability to set aside personal angst and focus on the larger task at hand. Focus on what needs doing, then get to work and do it!

 

To read more of Emlee Taylor’s Missionary Mom moments, click here.

Can you imagine what any organization (politics, church, work, volunteer, neighborhoods) would look like if those involved applied this? If they set aside egos and personal issues and focused on working? It would be revolutionary!

 

As I have gone about my days since this email with my missionary, I have applied his teaching to my own life with amazing results. I’ve been more at peace within and gotten a lot more done when I simply focus myself on what needs done. Who knew? Work really is the cure for what ails you.

 

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About Emlee Taylor

Growing up all over the world gave Emlee Taylor an opportunity to see the incredible differences the Lord created in humanity; and even better, the passions we all share as members of the human race: love for family, faith, & a desire to make a difference.

Emlee lives life with passion—focusing her time now on raising four children and teaching them to recognize truth and to live true to that truth, regardless of others’ expectations. Emlee is passionately in love with her bestest friend and husband of almost 20 years. 

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