Contribution List: Turning a Chore Chart Into a Child’s Opportunity for Growth

As the mother of a large family, I learned a long time ago it requires everyone to make the household function well. I used to have a chore chart, but it was met with resistance and that was no fun to enforce. Then my husband recommended we “rebrand” it, reminding everyone they have a role in our family, instead of a duty to fulfill. We started to use more carrots than sticks, and kids became specialists instead of rotating roles. The “Contribution List” was born and the chore chart was thrown out. 

This year, six of my children lived with us throughout the quarantine, ranging in age from 17-22, and the contribution list was the key to our happy co-existence.  Their Dad and I took every opportunity to remind them the house belongs to everyone, and we all need to take care of it. They aren’t working for us when asked to clean a bathroom, or fill up a car with gas, or make a meal, they are helping the entire family and we are all accountable to each other and grateful for one another. That’s a far cry from begrudging a chore, or worse yet, the person who asked you to do it. If someone ends up doing something extra, that’s to their credit, and we are all grateful. It has helped curb resentment and foster maturity.

It’s taken some conversation in our marriage to get to here. I grew up in a household where my mother did most of the work, and I now realize what I did do was more her way of keeping me busy than actually making a difference in the dent of her load. My husband grew up in a household where the kids worked hard for their parents and he often had more responsibilities in the home than were age-appropriate. Finding the middle ground where our children feel responsibility and contribution has been hard-fought, but well worth the result.

Watching it happen in my home and with my kids made me wonder about spiritual maturation in me and its tie to duty vs. responsibility. There are “chores” that come with a life in Christ. As much as I want to live in the land of grace and rainbows, there is a reality full of discipline, generosity, taking thoughts captive, and tongue holding. Those can feel like work (even though I know they should come from an overflow of the Holy Spirit in my life.) When we don’t do them, things just don’t function.

When I do what is biblically asked of me, I am contributing to the Kingdom, instead of keeping a list of rules. God sees worth in my participation and wants to partner with me in His Kingdom. This makes me feel valuable and puts me on the hunt to look for more opportunities to contribute, instead of crossing off a list and rushing to be done. 

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

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