Anytime I participate in an activity with my daughter’s preschool, there is always a lot of conversation about who will be the “line leader.” Even with four and five year olds, the desire to step up and take charge seems to be innate. American culture teaches us to take action and make our dreams come true. Hard work and ambition are often necessary to achieve goals. But without a balancing trait, such qualities can lead to a lonely and hollow life. Meekness is the perfect complement to drive and ambition.
Meekness means yielding my personal rights and expectations and having a desire to serve. Employing meekness gives us the chance to listen to others’ points of view and get a new perspective on the situation. We might just discover that it is more fun to be the caboose than the locomotive. Often yielding or deferring our personal desires can allow the family as a whole to accomplish more, leading to additional opportunities for everyone.
In nearly every situation, we have the choice to be meek or to be aggressive. Take time this month to discuss with your child the advantages of choosing meekness.
For thousands of years, horses have been admired for their strength and beauty. Their endurance helped tame the American frontier and their speed has captured man’s imagination for centuries. The skill of training a horse begins with having the horse submit its will—without breaking its spirit. Although horses are larger and stronger than humans, trained horses display meekness by following the directions given by their rider.
I Will Statements
- I will be slow to get angry.
- I will not boast.
- I will not grumble or complain.
- I will look for ways to help those in need.
- I will be willing to go last.
Use the I Will statements to practice listening exercises this month. Read the statements aloud and then take turns repeating them, discussing the opportunities to put them into action in your family.
Games that challenge us to listen not only improve cognitive skills; they also benefit our personal relationships by helping us be more attentive. The most well-known listening game has to be “telephone,” where one person listens to what someone else says before passing it on to the next person. This is particularly fun with a large group because the message invariably changes significantly by the time it has made its way around the room.
Another listening activity is “word of the day.” Pick a word that you are likely to hear during the day—it could be anything from canoe to thanks. Then listen for that word to be spoken. It’s not necessary to keep score, just take note. You could even develop a secret signal, like a wink or a nod, so you can acknowledge that you’ve both heard the word in situations where you can’t talk. (Imagine how quiet your child might be during the sermon if he’s trying to keep track of how many times the word faith is used.)
Perhaps one of the most familiar modern tales of meekness is that of Superman. Although Superman can fly, bend steel with his bare hands, and see through everything but lead, he spends the majority of his time as the mild-mannered Clark Kent. He does this in hopes that he will have a private, normal life. In this normal life he is often meek: avoiding conflict and keeping a low profile. Rent the Superman
Returns movie and talk with your family about how a powerful person can also choose to be meek.
- Listen Up: How to Improve Relationships, Reduce Stress, and be More Productive by Using the Power of Listening by Larry Barker and Kittie Watson gives parents great insight into the skill of listening. Addressing both personal and professional relationships, this book has tips and exercises to help us all become better listeners.
- Hot Stones and Funny Bones: Teens Helping Teens Cope with Stress and Anger by Brian Luke Seaward gives straight talk from teenagers across the country on dealing with anger (and provides valuable insight for parents of teens).
- Middle readers will enjoy Bunny Business by Nancy Poydar. The light-hearted story follows Harry as he learns the value of listening to instructions. Be Gentle, Python by Jeanne Willis and Mark Birchall focuses on a snake who learns a valuable lesson about being kind to others on her first day of school.
- Young readers can explore the trait of meekness in Virginia Miller’s book, Be Gentle! Bartholomew is excited about his new kitten, but his rambunctious antics scare his small pet until he learns to be gentle.