Article originally appeared @ on May 14, 2014

Hayward Wesleyan’s discipleship pastor, Heath Davis, and myself have been trying to engage our church (and the community) in conversations about technology. We have learned a lot.

During one of our conversations, we were talking about kids are getting cell phones younger and younger. One father shared a remarkable exchange he recently had with his 5th grade son. Here is my reflection on this father’s conversation with his son (I’ve changed the names).

I really appreciated Phil’s suggestion in our technology conversation yesterday. Phil’s son, Josh, was noticing that he was “the only one” without a cell phone in his grade and when could he get one. Instead of hearing the “No! You’re not ready for a cell phone” pitch, Phil told his son, Josh:

“I really want you to have a cell phone, too! That would be so neat! Having a cell phone comes with a lot of responsibility. Let me tell you some ways you can show me you are responsible, and when you have demonstrated that, then you can have one.”

What I loved about Phil’s response is two things:

1. It was positive, not negative.

I liked that what Josh head wasn’t “no,” but “yes, but not quite yet.” He could tell, I’m sure, that his Dad wanted (and was excited) to have a cell phone someday.

2. It put the responsibility (and the challenge) where it belonged… on Josh.

Phil’s son either could reject or accept the challenge. Whatever he decided to do would tell Phil a lot about whether or not he was ready to even consider it. Motivating children, based on what they want, is a great vehicle for teaching life lessons and the Gospel. It seems the older kids get the harder it is to motivate them. We, like Phil, need to take advantage of those motivated moments and issue a challenge toward responsibility, rather than demoralize our children into removing any kind of possibility of being responsible one day.

Photo credit: Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash