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Four Principles of Success

July 14–18, 2014   |   Vol. 120, Week 4
Originally Aired: November 19–23, 2007 | Vol. 78, Program 26–30

Are your kids brain smart and still working on being people smart? This week on Home School Heartbeat, Mike Smith shares his breakdown of the golden rule through saying please and thank you, being on time, keeping your word, and completing what you start.

“While these principles are pretty simple, they will help your child be successful at work and at college as well.”—Mike Smith

This Week’s Offer

Need tips on teaching manners? Check out HSLDA’s new resource sheet for a list of books and websites to help you get started.

You’ve heard that good manners are better than a good education—so how can you incorporate good etiquette into homeschooling? On this week’s Home School Heartbeat, host Mike Smith will share four rules of thumb to keep in mind when teaching your children social graces.

Mike Smith: This summer, I spoke at a homeschool graduation service and shared four principles for success. Parents were coming up to me one by one after the graduation, asking, “What was that point two?” and “What was that point three?” and “Those rules are so simple and common sense. Where did you get them?” Well, this week I’ll be sharing these points with you. They are good rules of thumb for your kids to remember and practice on a day-to-day basis.

The idea for these principles came from a copy of the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail I picked up while I was visiting Canada this summer. I read an article by a person who had attended a motivational speaker’s event in Toronto, Canada. The author of the article wrote about one speaker who gave four rules for success.

As your kids begin their first job or venture to college, it is important that they know how to treat other people. And while these principles are pretty simple, they will help your child be successful at work and at college as well.

The principles are simple table and social manners: say please and thank you, be on time, keep your word, and complete what you start. I believe these take up Jesus’ Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Listeners, please join me next time as we talk more about the first of these four principles. And until then, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Last time, I introduced four principles to teach our kids as they learn about manners. These simple principles are very easy to remember, and I would encourage you to have your kids practice them at home.

This leads us to our first principle: to always say please and thank you, which is a basic concept of good manners.

You may be thinking, “What is the purpose of teaching something as simple as saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to our children?” As Christians, we need to go beyond just the idea of practicing manners, and see manners as a way to show Christ’s love to others. We are to serve and love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and this means serving others above ourselves.

By practicing good manners, we reflect the biblical principles of humility and thankfulness. We are to have a humble attitude towards others and show an attitude of thankfulness no matter what our circumstances. Being polite and showing deference to others is a good way to reflect this attitude on a daily basis. Until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: This week, we’ve been talking about four simple rules of thumb to help us teach our children about manners. The first one is to always say please and thank you. The second one is a little more challenging, and that’s to always be on time. We all have times when we are running late because of certain circumstances, but our goal should be to be on time. We’re to prefer others over ourselves, and that means being considerate of other people’s time.

People who are late disappoint others. Do you know what the problem with being late is? When I’m late, I’m telling the other person that I’m more important than they are.

In Philippians 2:4-5, the apostle Paul says, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”

To look out for the interests of others means being considerate of other people and thinking of how our actions affect others around us. When we’re late, we keep others waiting. This violates the clear biblical mandate in Romans 12 where the Apostle Paul admonishes believers to honor one another by giving preference to one another.

Give preference. Be on time. Make it your goal to do your best when serving others. Next time, we’ll talk about the third principle of success. And until then, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: As we’ve been talking about manners this week and the principles to help you teach manners to your kids, I would encourage you to incorporate these principles into your daily homeschool program.

The third principle is an obvious one, but I think we can all agree that it is important to remember, and that is to keep our word. Failing to keep our word is kind of like lying, but keeping our word is a sign of integrity. Many times we have good intentions when we make promises—but as time goes by, it’s easy to change our minds and try to wiggle our way out of it.

In Proverbs 12:22, the Bible tells us that “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are his delight.” We should keep our word even if it becomes difficult. An exception would be if what we had promised to do conflicts with an emergency, or it was wrong to begin with. Then we must make the appropriate appeals to be released.

By keeping our promises we demonstrate that we have godly character. Matthew 5:37 says, “Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.” Those of us who seem to get ourselves into situations where we find we’ve broken our word over and over again, need to recognize this is an issue we need to take to the Lord. But if we keep our word and do what we’ve promised, our kids will see a small but profound difference in their interactions with other people. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Our final principle this week is to complete the work that we start. This principle reminds me of the two sons found in Matthew 21. A father asked his sons to work in the vineyard. The first son said no, but then he changed his mind and went. The second son said he would go, but he did not keep his word. In this parable, Jesus compares the second [son] to the chief priests and elders, who had knowledge of God and the Bible but rejected Jesus.

There is a temptation to give up when situations become difficult. But as believers we are salt and light in this world, and people are looking to us to see if we finish what we start, especially when the times are hard.

As we encourage our children to follow these rules, we have to recognize that these are only goals, and none of us are perfect. Our children will not be able to carry out these rules all the time.

But as we direct our children towards successful lives after high school and college, we have a responsibility to teach them how to interact with other people, and to be mindful of others by using manners. I’m convinced that if we practice these four simple principles I presented this week—to say please and thank you, be on time, keep your word, and complete what you start—we will see that even something as small as manners can make a profound difference in your life and your children’s life. Thank you for joining me this week. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith

Michael Smith and his wife Elizabeth, along with Michael Farris and his wife, Vicki, incorporated Home School Legal Defense Association in 1983 and were the original board members. Mike grew up in Arkansas, graduated from the University of Arkansas where he played basketball, majoring in business administration. Upon graduation, he entered the U.S. Navy and served three years before attending law school at the University of San Diego.

In 1972, he was admitted to the bar in California and also has been admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States. He is licensed in Virginia, California, and Washington, D.C.

Mike and his family began homeschooling because their 5-year-old flunked kindergarten. This was quite a disappointment to Mike in light of the fact that he was preparing this child to be president of the United States by starting his education as early as possible.

His family’s life changed drastically when he heard a radio program in 1981 which introduced him to the idea of homeschooling. When they started homeschooling, they began homeschooling one year at a time to meet the academic and social needs of their children. After spending lots of time around people like Mike Farris, he became convinced that he had been called to use his gifts and talents in the legal profession to assist homeschoolers who were being prosecuted because they didn’t hold a teacher’s certificate or satisfy the school district that they could competently teach their children.

Mike came to HSLDA full-time in 1987 and has served as president of the organization since the year 2001. In addition to serving as president, he also is a contact lawyer for California, Nevada and Puerto Rico. All of Mike’s children are now grown, and three of the four were homeschooled. The most enjoyable part of Mike’s job is when he is able to go to homeschool conferences and meet what he calls America’s greatest heroes, homeschooling moms.

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