Don’t Settle For An Elf On A Shelf – Part 1

Don't Settle For An Elf on a Shelf Part 1

Don’t Settle For An Elf On A Shelf

Part 1

You better not cry,

You better not pout,

You better not cry I’m telling you why,

Santa Claus is coming to town.

He sees you when you’re sleeping,

He knows when you’re awake,

He knows if you’ve been bad or good,

So be good for goodness sake.

Oh, you better watch out,

You better not cry,

You better not…

Motive matters. Throughout the Bible, the issues of our heart matter most. The word heart is used over 500 times in scripture. It might surprise you to know that the vast majority of them are found in the Old Testament. Examples of people who tried to manipulate God by their outward actions fill page after page. Doing the right thing, acting, and “fooling” others can only mask a cold, hard heart for a period of time. A point comes when one’s true nature is revealed.

In the Old Testament King Saul tried to manipulate God. The people loved him. He was tall and handsome, a king his countrymen were proud of. He looked the part and had it going on.

In many homes an elf is part of the Christmas decorations. He’s used to keep the kids on the straight and narrow according to the old song Santa Claus is Coming to Town. You remember the lyrics:

He sees you when you’re sleeping,

He knows when you’re awake,

He knows if you’ve been bad or good,

So be good for goodness sake.

At this time of year, kids begin the count down to the big day. They dream about what they will get. They give hints and make lists. They anticipate, count packages, try to sneak a peak, and shake boxes. Parents try to do their best to make those dreams come true, to meet the expectations. They make lists, too. They spend more than they intend in the emotional rush and pressure of it all. Often, everyone’s stress levels run higher than normal.

Parents want to bless their kids. They love them and enjoy giving them gifts. It brings them joy to see a smile as the little ones open packages. Kids wants to get the latest cool stuff. And they know how to work the system. They know that if they behave they can increase their odds of receiving a bounty of goodies.

As kids beg and parents give in, it can get crazy. There are plenty of problems with the way this is all handled—more than I can list. But here are ten that top my list:

1.  Removes worship from God to gods. No sense in trying to soften this point. Our behavior should be an outpouring of our love and honor to the One who made us. Our actions are our worship.

2.  Reduces presents to rewards for behavior and links doing with getting. Doing the right things, the things that honor God don’t always result in getting good presents. Often a kind action goes unnoticed, sometimes even taken for granted. When we communicate that good behavior results in getting stuff, we reinforce incorrect understanding of God’s ways.

3.  Sets both parents and children up for failure and raises expectations that cannot be met. If the kids decide to participate in this short-term proposition by behaving, then they expect it to pay off. When the parents set up the proposition they expect to be appreciated.

4.  Puts pressure on parents and kids—kids to perform and parents to overspend. Everyone loses. The kids can pull off their part, it’s only twenty-five days. The parents can just charge it all and pay if off later. That’s what everyone else does.

5.  Extracts the heart, external actions are elevated. This rewards shallow behaviors.

6.  Breeds manipulation. Kids manipulate parents with acting and emotions. Parents manipulate kids with threats and black mail.

7.  Encourages laziness. There is no actual sacrifice made by the kids. They only have to behave for a few weeks, pretending to be nice and kind and thoughtful. Parents just give in to a purchase. There is no need to set a budget or practice self-control. Just worry about the real issues and bills later. Unfortunately, both just continue to pile up.

8.  Pressurizes Christmas and stress levels soar. As the 25th approaches, the tension mounts. Kids and parents become increasingly exhausted and anxious.

9.  Hijacks the holiday and casts a shadow over the manger. This whole rush to behave and acquire is the ultimate commercialization of the holiday.

10.  Leads to post-Christmas let down. On the afternoon of Christmas day while there is still paper on the floor and before dinner is served, there’s a vacuum. Emptiness. Everyone feels it. Even if every item on the list was realized.

We want our kids to behave, but are we willing to get the behavior and the actions without a heart change? Let’s not think for a moment that this doesn’t have long-term effects. Let’s not fool ourselves for the sake of the season.

We have an opportunity here to give our children a real reason to mature, to grow up, to be nice and not pout. It’s not because an elf is reporting back to Santa while they sleep. It’s because the God of the universe, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the One Who spoke light into existence, the One Who knitted them together in their mother’s womb—He loves them.

He desires a relationship with them. He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay their sin debt. Jesus not only died on the cross, but He rose again and is sitting at the right hand of God.

He is preparing a place for them to come and live with Him forever and one day He will return to take them home. In the meantime He gives them opportunities every day to worship Him through thoughts, words, and actions.

Everyday as they anticipate His return, they can choose to respond to life’s circumstances and challenges with kindness and compassion and patience and generosity. Not because they have to, but because they want to; not because He might strike them with lightning if they don’t, but because they want to glorify Him; not because they are afraid of Him, but because He is Worthy.

Read part 2 of this series for 10 Alternatives to the Elf on the Shelf

Rachael Carman

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Rachael Carman
I had it going on—or so I thought. After surviving sixty-three months of pregnancy, countless sleepless nights, and 35,000+ diapers, this one-time control freak encountered God’s grace. And I’m here to encourage you to do the same! I love encouraging and inspiring moms to grow deeper in their walk and relationship with our Heavenly Father.

I’ve been married to my beloved, Davis, since 1986; our life has been a roller-coaster ride, with God at the controls. We have seven kids and let me tell you our family loves to laugh! I enjoy playing in the dirt, eating dark chocolate, and walking on the beach. I’m an author and speaker and I am passionate about helping moms not only survive motherhood, but draw near to the Father and thrive in motherhood.

I’m so glad you’re here.
Posted on: December 9, 2014, by : Rachael Carman