I came across an older article entitled, “Unclassified Laws of Etiquette: Important Rules of Conduct.” The author is unknown and the date is not mentioned. While reading through, you can tell that the article must have been written around the beginning of the 20th century. I really enjoyed the various suggestions for proper decorum. The word “etiquette” is rarely used these days and it means a set of rules that can tell you how to behave in various social situations. In our present times we would use the word “manners” rather than “etiquette,” but sadly neither is strongly used or taught today.
This article’s list of rules is long, but I would like to share some of the rules presented. Many are common courtesies that have faded away with time. Some would be laughed at if applied today. But all of them are important and can only result in a more pleasant person and situations. As Christian women, we are always searching for ways to be a better servant of God. To be a kinder, more compassionate Christian. The Bible is the root source for all instruction in manners and etiquette.
As mothers and grandmothers we can teach these rules to boys and girls, both young and old. It can be fun to teach some of these simple rules of etiquette to our children and others. It is easy to see how many of these rules can be added to our own personal lives. This article’s general theme is wholly supported by God’s written word. You can see where this article took many of its thoughts from the book of Psalms and other scripture. Proverbs 15:23 reads: “A man hath joy by the answering of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!”
- Never betray a confidence.
- Never leave home with unkind words.
- Never give a promise that you do not fulfill.
- Never speak much of your own performances.
- Never fail to give a polite answer to a civil question.
- Never punish your child for a fault to which you are addicted yourself.
- Never forget that, if you are faithful in a few things, you may be ruler over many.
- Never fail to tell the truth. If truthful, you get your reward. You will get your punishment if you deceive.
- Never refuse to receive an apology.
- Never give all your pleasant words and smiles to strangers.
Sadly, the time of the importance of proper decorum has faded out of our society. Another definition for decorum is propriety or the quality of being proper. As Christian wives and mothers we can help to rekindle the proper manners and conduct that defines a person’s character and defines the society we live in. We should not be afraid of teaching proper rules of conduct that should be expected of our children and ourselves. With proper instruction we can guide our daughters to be modest and hospitable. We can also guide our sons to be kind and respectful. We all remember the old quote; “Building boys is better than mending men.” Proverbs 20:11 tells us, “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” How will your child be known?
We can teach these to our children:
- Never attempt to draw the attention of the company constantly upon yourself.
- Never pass between two persons who are talking together without an apology.
- Never neglect to perform the commission, which the friend entrusted to you. You must not forget.
- Never send your guest, who is accustomed to a warm room, off into a cold, damp, spare bed to sleep.
- Never fail to answer an invitation, either personally or by letter, within a week after the invitation is received.
- Never fail to say kind and encouraging words to those whom you meet in distress. Your kindness may lift them out of their despair.
- Never insult another by harsh words when applied to for a favor.
- Never fail to be punctual at the time appointed.
- Never fail; if a gentleman, of being civil and polite to ladies.
- Never associate with bad company. Have good company, or none.
- Never enter a room noisily; never fail to close the door after you, and never slam it.
- Never fail to offer the easiest and best seat in the room to an invalid, an elderly person, or a lady.
- Never borrow money and neglect to pay. If you do, you will soon be known as a person of no business integrity.
- Never fail to speak kindly.
When we read through these rules, we can see how some are easy to follow and how some will take a little more time to accomplish. We may have to form some new habits. “Sow an act and you reap a habit, sow a habit and you reap a character, sow a character and you reap a destiny.” William S. Deal states: “Build carefully into your character daily what you want to be like in old age, for you are now becoming what you will some day permanently be.” A godly character should be our goal everyday.
Our character is formed by instruction, by example, and by the blessings and hardships we face in this life. The little acts of etiquette will be a defining element into who we truly are. God’s word says, “A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth; and the recompense of a man’s hands shall be rendered unto him” (Proverbs 12:14). What we say and what we do will define us and we will be accountable to God for all. Applying proper etiquette and manners can only bring joy and kindness to both the giver and the receiver. Have fun establishing etiquette and making manners!
By Susan Follis
Susan Follis lives in Lamar, Colorado. She and her husband, Jim, have been married almost 34 years. They have six children and four grandchildren. She loves learning about being a godly wife and mother.