Lessons from Our Treehouse (Part 1)

Back in June 2009, my two oldest sons (Adin & Abel) expressed a desire to build a treehouse in our backyard. At the time I knew nothing about building treehouses (and there were no related popular TV shows at the time to watch and learn from), but I did some research to educate myself. As my knowledge grew, I drew many planning sketches as I contemplated the best way to build in our backyard. I came to a point where I knew we could do it, if we really wanted to. And we did it! The house is still hanging strong up in the tree after four years. During the planning, constructing, & playing phases (over the past six years), there have been some lessons we have learned related to our treehouse that I'd like to share.

A picture of our treehouse taken from a second story window of our home.
A picture of our treehouse taken from a second story window of our home.

In 2009, Adin & Abel turned 7 & 5, respectively. They didn't have jobs at the time. They did receive about $3 each weekly as an allowance for chores. Ranae and I have found allowances to be a helpful way for children to learn about financial responsibility & self-discipline. After the boys contributed to the work of the church each Sunday, they saved--in a labeled glass jar--most of the rest of their allowances toward the treehouse project. I told them up front that I thought the project would be fun, but I wasn't going to start building unless they "bought in" at $300 total. If they paid that amount, construction would begin and I would cover the rest of the costs. If they weren't serious about having a treehouse, I knew they would not save $300. And if they weren't serious about it, then I wasn't going to bother to build it (knowing that it would be a time consuming and expensive project for me, even as a labor of love).

After 18 months, between their allowances and some birthday/Christmas money, they reached the goal. At times they really wanted to pull the money out of the jar and go spend some or all of it at Wal-mart in the toy aisle, but they stayed the course and were rewarded in the end. We were very pleased with their determination and sacrifice during those long months of saving and delaying gratification. Those qualities are needed to succeed in life, especially spiritually. I Corinthians 15:58 reads - "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." Paul also wrote - "And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (I Cor. 9:25-27). Spiritual discipline, steadfastness, and commitment to the cause of Christ--even at great cost to oneself--are requirements for a successful Christian life. Children of God cannot say "yes" to every impulse and be pleasing to God. We have to say "no" to less important desires (and especially to sinful ones) in order to make room in our lives for what is most important to us. As Christ Jesus said - "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24). Denying oneself for Christ and making personal sacrifices is not easy (cf. Luke 14:26-33), but it is worth it!

We will continue this topic in our next lesson.