Encouraging the Dominion Mandate (Part 2)

by Andrew French

a young boy with construction gear

Note: This is the second post in a two-part series. Read Part 1 here

God intends His image bearers to work, to apply effort that produces a more orderly and beneficial result. This is the essence of the dominion mandate that God gave man back in the garden—prior to the Fall. But life in the last 150 years has made it comparatively harder to develop that perspective in our children.

After arguing for this difficulty in the last article, I left us with an encouragement to consider how to counteract the natural gravitational pull away from encouraging dominion mandate activity in our children. This second article offers some concrete ways we can help our children and teens embrace their God-given ability to work.

1. Give your children responsibilities.

Give them regular chores like emptying the trash, vacuuming, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning out the cars, mowing the lawn. If they’re very young, a regular chore could look like cleaning up the toys in their room or making their bed.

Odd jobs are fair game, too. Cleaning out the garage, weeding the flower beds, shoveling the driveway. For that 2-year-old, taking that random sock back to the hamper. Or, “Can you please take Daddy’s shoes and put them by his closet?”

“Yeah, but I don’t want my 13-year-old touching my immaculate, well-manicured lawn.”

How else will they learn? Sure, you could do a better job. But you as a dad can, and should, teach them how to approach the lawn. Teach them how to maintain the mower or the tools needed for a particular job. Teach them how to use a push broom.

Then follow up and coach them on what a good job looks like. Kindly instill in them the God-intended satisfaction from a job well done. Reminder: Your gracious and patient tone of voice will be required.

(To the random teen reading this article: when speaking on this topic in our church context, I encouraged our teens to, believe it or not, ask for these responsibilities. “Dad, Mom, what would be a weekly/daily chore I could do that would be a help to you?”)

2. Have your children help you.

Introduce them to the names of the tools. This can start with your one-year-old if you want. “Wrench.” “Skew drivah,” as my now two-year-old says. “Shovel” “Milwaukee.” Just kidding, unless you’re into brainwashing your children into having an affinity for a particular brand!

Have them help you think through the project. “How do you think we should do this project? What’s the first step?” You’re helping them see a problem and get after it until it’s solved!

And don’t just do it all while they watch. Have them get the feel of the drill. Measure stuff. Let them take that first pass across the lawn. Sure, it might be a little crooked, but they’ll get the hang of it.

If you have younger children, go do the free monthly kids’ project at Home Depot. Yeah, it’s a thing.

When you have your children help you with projects, it will seem extremely inefficient. A dramatic loss of time and energy compared with you doing it yourself with no one around. But take heart! The loss is short-term, but the gain is long-term–and exponential.

Pause. Step back and recognize how these last two suggestions would have been completely irrelevant 150 years ago. They were things naturally occurring in the life of father and child, as they were with each other around the home. Not necessarily so now. Continue.

3. Ask another man to take your teen boy to help him with a project.

What if you’re not really well-equipped with some of this “handyman” type stuff? Maybe you didn’t receive this kind of mentoring when you were a boy. But you just might know other men in your church family that know how to do stuff like this.

Ask another man if he would be willing to find extra time to make space for mentoring your son in a particular skill. (Feel free to ask if you can join in, too.) The same, of course, could apply to helping your daughter acquire a skill. Ask another lady to mentor her in a skill.

“When it’s time for you to change the oil in your lawn mower, would you mind teaching my son how to do that?”

“Do you think you could take an hour on Saturdays to show my son the basics of woodworking?”

I would encourage you, though, not to farm it all out. Your children need you, Dad (and Mom), to be the primary imparter of life skills and godly wisdom. But that doesn’t preclude you from stewarding others’ skills well in your child’s dominion development.

4. Ask a teen boy to come help you with a project.

What if you’re one of the few guys reading this who aren’t in the direct fathering stage right now. But perhaps you’ve got a grandson. Or maybe your own children are still very young. Maybe you know a boy or two in your church that could use some help in this area.

Certainly you may not “need” help on that project. But chances are, there’s a boy who needs help learning a life skill. Give up a little of your own efficiency and give that boy an opportunity to be slightly more equipped to “take dominion” in his own life.

Perhaps you can’t physically do what you once did. You could still coach a teen guy through a project. Pay him something. It’s a win-win-win. He’s learning something, he’s getting a little cash, and you’re gaining a completed project. What an investment you could make!


Perhaps your children won’t take up a trade based on the opportunities you give them. That’s not the point. They will, however, be more equipped to take dominion in whatever context God has for them in the future.

Solomon told his son a story in Proverbs 24 about a guy who didn’t bother to maintain his vineyard, his ground, or his stone wall. He wanted his son to learn a lesson from the lazy–to instead be a diligent man who wisely worked hard.

In encouraging the development of the dominion mandate in our children, we are helping them reflect God’s image in them a little more accurately (Gen. 1:28; 2:15). We can help them learn not only to talk about solutions, but apply those solutions to the problems they encounter in life. “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty” (Prov. 14:23).

In some way, give dominion development opportunities to the children and teens in your life. You’ll be working and keeping your own sphere of influence.

Take a moment now and choose your next step. And then keep it up.

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