A couple of readers, including my own husband, asked me if teaching Sean good manners was really the TOP priority in my life.
Yes. Yes it is.
On the whole it would seem there would be other things at the top of that long list like trying to get him to eat vegetables or teaching him how to make coffee, but no, the most important thing I can teach him is to be a well mannered gentleman.
Why? Because good manners make the world a nicer place. Because I want Sean to be equally comfortable dining with a prince or a pauper. Because good manners and the well written thank you note can take you a long way in life. Because good manners are the mark of good breeding.
Those reasons are all true enough, but not the real reason.
The real reason that I am relentless in my quest to instill good manners in Sean is because it will be the single most important outward display of the faith that I hope he will one day choose to take on as his own. Good manners are all about showing respect and consideration towards others and putting others first. And that, more than anything else, will be his greatest testimony.
In my view, good manners are an expression of the core tenant of my faith, which is love thy neighbor. Paul tells the Galatians that all of God’s law can be summed up in this one command — to love others as oneself. As they say, love is a verb and that verb must be well mannered or it’s probably not love.
Well mannered people are not rude, self-seeking or easily angered. Scripture says that love is not rude, self-seeking or easily angered. Therefore, love is clothed in good manners.
So then, if you are a Christian and you are not using good and gentle manners and treating others with love and respect, and you are not teaching your children to do so, nothing else you are doing for the kingdom really matters, you are failing your faith. You simply cannot love God without acting loving and kindly towards others. Paul writes in 1st Corinthians, “If I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” Good manners and love for others are inextricably intertwined. Love for others and love for God are inextricably intertwined. Good manners can be absent of love, but love cannot be absent of good manners.
Do I always do it? No. I fail daily in some way. Sometimes I fail miserably right here on this blog. Sometimes I fail my own family. Other times I fail by omission, by not taking the opportunity to extend kindness or offer a word of encouragement. And that is a shame because it costs nothing to be kind and respectful, to be well mannered.
So when I say that teaching Sean good manners is at the top of my priority list, it is. And hopefully, in the process of teaching, the teacher will learn too.