Lately I’ve struggled with cultivating a servant’s heart. I know that the way I’m called to serve God right now, primarily, is by serving my family.
At the same time, I’m convinced, 100%, without-a-doubt, that I must disabuse my children of the notion that I am their slave. It is my
duty to teach them to be considerate, to be polite, to be reasonable in their requests, to wait patiently, not to expect instant gratification, to be self-sufficient. This is crucial for their success in this life and for their happiness in the life hereafter . . . and it begins with their exercising these character qualities in their dealings with me. I attend to their needs and–sometimes–provide a few of their wants. But I do them no good to let them think they have a right to a servant waiting at their beck and call (and scream!) to cater to their every whim.
At a theoretical level, I know that the serving part lies in being firm yet loving, over and over and over again. It’s hard, really hard, to be consistent, to correct the rude demands patiently, to punish the disobedience gently. The instinctual, easy response is to yell . . . and then when that doesn’t work, to stuff junk food in their faces, give them whatever it is they’re fussing for . . . just to make it stop. (Oh God! Please, make it stop.)
So I do my best to stand firm against the whining and shrieking and incessant demands. . . . But I do it with clenched teeth.
It helps to think that God must have clenched his teeth in dealing with his own chosen people. It wasn’t enough, was it, that he freed them from Egypt, parted the Red Sea, gave them manna in the desert, water from a rock? Oh no: they wanted a Golden Calf too. He provided for their needs, but still they whined. I can imagine, later, when they wanted a king, God saying, “You want a king? Sure, fine, swell, I’ll give you what you want. Here’s your king. Come back in a few generations and tell me how that’s working out for you.”
So I contemplate how God dealt with the Israelites. Can I can take any tips from Him in dealing with my own stiff-necked little people? Serpents? Mmm, no. Making the ground open to swallow them up? Not feasible. Allowing them to be vanquished by enemy tribes? Hard to find in these parts.
Making them wander in the desert for 40 years? Now there’s a thought. Maybe when their demands bring me to a breaking point I can stick them in the (fenced) backyard for 40 . . . well . . . 40 minutes anyway. I’ll find some ear plugs to block out the murmuring and complaining and crying and shrieking that inevitably will follow after 53 seconds when they want to be let back in.
But then, God didn’t have to worry about anyone calling CPS on Him.