“Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, And the end of mirth may be grief.” Proverbs 14:13
Recently a little boy dropped out of summer school. When asked why he didn’t want to go, he said, “They told us two things. They said that it would be fun and that we wouldn’t have homework. Well, the first day they gave us a journal to take home each day and bring back, and it wasn’t fun at all while we were there.”
How often we hear parents, leaders, teachers, and others tell children, “It will be fun!” Well-meaning adults use the phrase to motivate children. Actually, it often builds up expectations to a point beyond possible satisfaction. Children then become disappointed. Perhaps it would be better to let the child decide for self whether something is fun. Even better, perhaps fun should not be the reason for doing an activity.
In my concordance, the word “fun” had zero results. The Bible does not teach that the reason for doing something is to have fun. Fun may very well be the by-product of an activity, but should it be the goal? We often forget that there are four personality types and only one of them is fun-loving. In today’s environment, the idea of fun often seems out of place when children come from broken homes or homes where drugs are used and terrible things happen. On the news, older children hear of beheadings and killings. Perhaps we should be instilling more compassion instead of emphasizing fun.
As we observe our young adults entering the workforce, it is troubling to see many who believe their jobs should be fun. Could that be true because fun has been emphasized so much as they were growing up? Are we shortchanging our children by over-emphasizing fun? Many jobs are not fun. Many things in life are not fun.
Fun is more fun when it just happens…not when it is expected. Summer church camps provide good clean fun for kids, but it may be better to not over-hype the fact. The same is true for church activities. We should be honest with children. Not all of the activities may be fun. Laughter is a good thing, and we certainly need laughter from time to time. It is unrealistic, however, to promote the idea that everything should be fun.
How can we motivate children if we don’t use fun as the motivating factor? There is nothing to compare to the feeling of a job well done. Honest praise is a real motivator. A teacher colleague often said, “Virtue is its own reward”. Fun often leaves an empty feeling in a child, but a job well done gives a sense of satisfaction that lasts much longer.
It is easy to get into the habit of saying, “It will be fun!” Perhaps we should come up with better motivational phrases. We do some things simply because they are the right things to do and emphasis should be placed on pleasing others instead of self.