I periodically substitute teach. In the different classes I sub in, there is usually method of bribery – I mean incentive – for students to behave, show kindness or encourage them to work well together as a class.
I have seen the marble jar method used a lot. The teacher has a large jar in her room and as the students do well and reach goals or act appropriately, the teacher puts marbles in the jar. When the jar is filled with marbles, the class enjoys whatever prize has been set for reaching the goal.
This builds community. The class, as a whole, wants to see the jar fill up with marbles. It means a celebration is coming.
One of our country’s foremost couple’s researchers, Dr. John Gottman, also encourages incentives. One of his is called the “sliding door.” This implies that we have small moments every day in which to slide open a door to notice and engage with concern and care for the people in our lives.
The flipside of that is keeping the imaginary door closed … in which we are shutting off opportunity for engaging with others. These small sliding door moments can slowly and steadily build up trust in our relationships, which again, helps build community.
We have great visual examples of working toward the greater good in our relationships, whether in a classroom, marriage, or even as a stepmom. Maybe us stepmoms, (as well as bio moms), need to get a jar and some marbles – not to be incentive for our families – but for ourselves.
What if each time you said something positive to your kids you put a marble in the jar? What if each time you yelled, lost your cool, said something ugly, you took a marble out of the jar? I know when my stepkids were still living with me, I would probably have had IOU’s in my marble jar. I did not always look for the positive or encouraging thing to say or do. I don’t think I used many “sliding door” moments to build trust in our family. My door was usually locked. Sad, but true.
So now it’s your turn. These incentives, these opportunities are actually Biblically-based.
First Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing, or should be doing.
Hebrews 10:24 tells us to be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works. This verse goes on to encourage us to attend worship meetings, but it works within the context of a family as well – get together often, slide the door open to build trust.
Ephesians 4:29 is pretty straightforward – no foul language is to come from your mouth but only what is good for building up someone in need.
And finally, Romans 14:19 says that we must pursue what promotes peace, and what builds up one another.
In other words, slide open some doors and keep adding marbles to the jar!
Blessings in your Blending!