Wednesday, March 14, 2007

WFMW: What to Tell a TattleTale

For today's Works For Me Wednesday, I'd like to share a wonderful character-building resource.

As all homeschool moms know, "Spring Cleaning" means sorting through the past year’s piles of papers, notebooks, "artwork", essays, portfolios, and lots of books. Recently I was digging through some of these piles when I ran across a book I hadn’t seen in quite a while. It was written by fellow homeschool mom Pam Forster, and this short booklet had the interesting title of The Brother-Offended Checklist: What to Tell a Tattletale. I have five tattletalers in my home, so I was intrigued! I opened the book and began to read:

“Mom-my! He took my truck!”
How we deal with an “offended brother” is important.
As parents, we can encourage our child to become a talebearer, or we can help him learn to deal with offenses and offenders in the way God has outlined for us.
We can teach him to speak honestly and humbly with the person who offended him, or we can encourage him to gossip and to involve others in his complaints.
We can urge him to graciously overlook minor faults and offenses, or we can allow him to become a proud and petty judge of other’s weaknesses and sins.
We can help him learn to trust God and His delegated authorities, or we can allow him to harbor grudges and bitterness when he believes that justice has not been exercised.
Teaching our children to obey God’s instructions when facing their own sins and the sins of others will affect their relationships for the rest of their lives. It will help them become better spouses, better parents, better friends, better church members.”

Ouch! There’s no doubt that my children are tattletales from time to time…but as an adult, I struggle with the very same behaviors! Tattletales grow up and continue telling their tales of woe and injustice to anyone who will listen. It may surprise you to find that in the Bible, God addresses the heart of the “offended brother” as often as he addresses the one who has offended.

As parents, we struggle to teach our children how to love each other and forgive each other so that as adults, they can follow God’s instruction to “live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). But tattling isn’t just for kids! God must have known what a huge temptation it is to want to tell on everyone who has hurt us, because the Bible is filled with instruction not only for those who are the offenders, but also for those who are the “offended brothers." So how should we respond when someone has offended us? The Brother Offended Checklist summarizes what the Bible has to say:

  • Don’t be in a hurry to tell someone else. “Do not go hastily to court…Debate your case with your neighbor himself” (Prov 25:8-9)

  • Remove the plank from your own eye first (Matt 7:1) The following questions can help you discover your “plank”: Are you being easily provoked? Are you thinking of yourself first? Are you repaying evil with evil? “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5)

  • Be a peacemaker. Are you being patient? Are you trying to avoid a quarrel? Are you overcoming evil with good? “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife” (Prov 20:3)

  • Go to the person who hurt you. “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you”. (Matt 8:15)

  • If the offender repents, forgive him. “Forgive other people just as God forgave you” (Eph 4:32)

  • If the offender does not repent, go back to him with witnesses. “But if he will not listen, take one or two others along” (Matt. 18:16)

  • Do not rejoice in the other person’s wrongdoing. “Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth” (I Cor.13:6)

  • If the offender still does not repent, go to the authority. “If he refuses to listen, tell it to the church” Matt 18:17

  • God knows our hearts, and He knows how hard it can be to get along at times! But He also expects that those who profess to love Him follow the example He set through His son Jesus. When we follow God’s “checklist” for loving each other, we become a church which pleases Him, and one which He is eager to bless.

    You can find The Brother-Offended Checklist as well as many other wonderful character-building books and products at Doorposts.


    Myfriendconnie said...

    That sounds like a great little book. I need that for myself and my children.

    I wish you would've come straight to me instead of talking about my weaknesses on the internet like this, though!


    The Lazy Organizer said...

    What wonderful guidance! I'm going to print this out and share it with my children tomorrow during our family time.

    Linsey said...

    With a 4 yr & 2 yr old...the tattling is INSANE

    Alexandra said...

    I love Doorposts...thanks for sharing!

    thruchildeyes said...

    Ooooh, what a good post. Emily obviously is not to the tattling age, but we deal with this every day at Afterschool. It's refreshing to think beyond their behaviors and into shaping their hearts. It's inspiring to see what influence for good we can have just by how we deal with something so seemingly small as tattling.