There was a time when I lived pretty much according to how I felt. If I awoke groggy, I was grumpy. If I had a stomach ache, others had to hear about it. I was under the false impression that I didn’t have any choice. After all, I was only human and had a right to express my feelings.
It never occurred to me that my outlook was selfish to the core.
Fast-forward to the introduction of one little life after another. No longer was it an option to “let it all hang out.” I had to keep my negative emotions in check for the tiny ones who looked up at me with wonder. However, there were still people I felt free to let loose on, one of them being my own dear husband.
As the children grew it was harder to keep sweet, especially when they would try my patience.
Thankfully, early-on the Lord gave me some very sound advice via other people in my life. Essentially this advice amounted to a very important principle:
Give your family a drink of water.
I hope this sounds vaguely familiar. It is taken from what Jesus said,
And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Which, for moms and wives, basically boils down to:
Treat your family better than strangers and guests.
As an example, a number of years back we were forced to travel to my husband’s home town due to a death in the family. As soon as his close friends from high school heard of it they opened their home to us. They gave us the master bedroom, which had been stocked and staged to the minute detail, including fresh linens and personal hygiene items. They made a special dinner for us and went out and bought the best so they could offer a delicious breakfast the next morning. They sat and listened, they gave us their undivided attention, and they took care to show us every kindness with a cheerful spirit.
They did this because we were their guests.
As another example, our dear daughter ended up in the hospital with an abscessed appendicitis. Throughout the entire ordeal the nursing staff was above and beyond caring and helpful. No matter what time of night or what problems we faced, they handled my daughter and myself with the utmost care and kindness. Their patience and attention never seemed to wane, and we weren’t the only ones who needed them; the wing was full to capacity with tiny children who were suffering from a wave of respiratory infections.
They did this because they were nurses and it was their job, yes…
..but have you ever met a nurse, a really good nurse, in her off-duty hours? I have. My own step mother was one of them. Her sweetness didn’t fade when she was off-duty; her training as a professional made her a better wife and mother when she was at home.
My point? No matter what you natural inclinations, no matter how you were brought up, no matter what problems and obstacles you face, it is possible to be a sweet, cheerful, life-giving person to your family members, even when you think no one else is watching.
Now, I’m not just saying this as some sort of feel-good guru. Nope. there is actual Biblical, sound truth to back it up.
Thankfully, for me and every other woman reading this, we are not tied to continuing in the selfish state I described above. If we are truly born again, as Jesus described having faith in what He did on the cross for us, then we are brand. spanking. new creatures on the inside, in our spirits. What we need to do is to renew our minds and make our outsides match the insides.
We do this by “putting on” Christ and His character.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
In order to do this, we need to know what true “kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” look like (I know I clearly had no idea).
That’s when I started to think about the examples I cited above, and others that I encountered when I did business outside the home. Everywhere I witnessed employees, whether they worked in a restaurant or an auto repair shop, treating people with powerful amounts of patience, kindness, and cheerfulness. Even when customers handed them barrels filled with rotten lemons, they found ways to overcome with barges of sugar.
Turns out, all of this did not happen by accident–even in the business world it all started with, you have to know it–Jesus!
Consider the practices of J.C. Penney as drafted over 100 years ago. He, and others like him, built businesses on the Golden Rule:
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
In fact, JC Penney stores were originally called “The Golden Rule.”
The customer service we enjoy today began with the principles he outlined. Consider these quotes:
When this business was founded, it sought to win public confidence through service, for it was my conviction then, as it is now, that nothing else than right service to the public results in mutual understanding and satisfaction between customer and merchant. It was for this reason that our business was founded upon the eternal principle of the Golden Rule.
The friendly smile, the word of greeting, are certainly something fleeting and seemingly insubstantial. You can’t take them with you. But they work for good beyond your power to measure their influence. It is the service we are not obliged to give that people value most.
Courteous treatment will make a customer a walking advertisement.
HT: The Balance
So, all we need to do is:
Act as if each family member is a customer.
Yep. That’s it! Just treat them as if your job depended on making them comfortable, happy, loved, and all of that it entails, and you will have it cinched.
Just for fun, I actually looked up some of the ways they are training employees to give excellent service these days. Then I had the idea of tweaking them so that they would apply more directly to mom life.
The following principles (according to Help Scout Inc.)are what I ended up with:
- Patience–with people both big and small who may be frustrated, tired, ill, or hungry (or all of the above).
- Attentiveness–the ability to really listen to your family members.
- Clear communication skills–don’t beat around the bush and go on rabbit trails. Solve problems quickly and directly.
- Knowledge of the product (in our case, homemaking)–know what you are supposed to be doing in the lives of your family inside-and-out and it will keep you from either doing too much or too little.
- Ability to use “positive language”–instead of saying, “No way, you can’t watch TV before the house is clean!” say, “Absolutely! All you have to do is make sure the house is clean first.”
- Acting skills –this is the ability to maintain a cheery demeanor even when you are dealing with family members who are simply grumpy and disagreeable. I know that we can see this as being phony, but it is amazing how, when we put the effort into “faking it,” it actually becomes part of our real demeanor as our emotions catch up and start to take over.
- Time management skills–the ability to know when you should end a conversation with a family member. Sometimes children, from toddlers to teens, just want to complain or corner your attention because they are unwilling to take responsibility and solve a problem for themselves or they are impatient and want an instant answer you cannot provide.
- Ability to “read” customers (family members)–take in cues such as tone and body language so you can respond accordingly.
- A calming presence–don’t allow a heated family member make you lose your cool (this one takes the power of the Holy Spirit).
- Goal oriented focus–basically, giving in to keep temporary peace is a lousy way of reaching the ultimate peace you desire.
- Ability to handle surprises–create guidelines for yourself and how you allow yourself to act in different situations.
- Persuasion skills–this is the ability to intentionally convince your spouse and your children that your family is worth investing in and fighting for.
- Tenacity–“a great work ethic and a willingness to do what needs to be done (and not take shortcuts) is a key skill when providing the kind of service” that your family will love.
- Closing ability–the ability to say goodbye to your husband in the morning or put your children to bed at night feeling that everything is being taken care of.
- Willingness to learn–periodically take the temperature of your home. How are people getting along? Is there a lot of strife among family members? Are your children often whiny and is your husband uncomfortable at home? Be willing to educate yourself in ways to encourage more peace, better health, etc.
Does it work?
I could share testimony after testimony of how it does. When we plant the seeds of selflessness, God always returns to us, just as a single seed of corn produces hundreds more when we plant it in the ground. It simply takes faith, the ability to trust that God will take that seed and use it for His kingdom and His glory.