When our kids are young, we serve them because we’re ‘forced’ to. We love them and know they need cared for, so we serve them by taking care of their needs. It’s often not very many months into this act of servanthood, that we realize how hard parenting actually is.
As the kids get older and more independent, we gladly and, often, quickly, shift some of those things we do to “serve” them, onto them. They now feed themselves, dress themselves, use the potty by themselves (somebody praise Him), and even can clean up after themselves. And there’s nothing wrong with this.
What I have seen and what I know from personal experience, though, is that resentment has often settled in by this point. At the root of our hearts, is a resentment for all the years we had to serve them and we now have a you owe me so do it yourself attitude. Oh, I don’t think we would ever voice this or even pay any attention to it. But if we honestly dig to the bottom of our hearts, I think it’s often there.
It wasn’t until the Lord put His finger on my heart about it a few years ago that I had that aha moment of “oh my gosh, I DO have resentment in my heart towards my kids.” No one really wants to admit that.
As I was pondering parenting and applying the 5 love languages in order to love my kids well, I was thinking about acts of service and what that really looks like in parenting. And I realized that it looked like sometimes showing my kids my love for them by doing things for my kids that they can do themselves.
I wrestled with this for a while. I don’t want to be an enabler. I do want to raise kids that can take care of themselves when the time comes. I don’t want to continue to do every thing for them that they can do themselves. I do want them to be secure and confident in my love for them.
And so, I do want to serve them. Jesus said, “…Among you, the greatest must become like the youngest and the leader must become a true servant.” (Luke 22:26 The Voice)
I am the parent and the leader, therefore I must become a true servant. Besides demonstrating my love to them, I am teaching them how to be servants.
I looked up the word serve in the dictionary. One definition really stood out to me, “to be favorable, suitable or convenient”. This is a definition that I don’t automatically apply when thinking about serving my kids, but I think it’s the kind of serving Jesus has in mind when He tells us to,
“…Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.” (John 13:34-35 The Voice)
As believers, we like to think about outreach to the homeless or those in other countries or even those that don’t attend our church, but what if it starts with demonstrating our love towards our kids? In ways they can receive it. If we have to try to convince our kids that we love them, maybe we should re-evaluate the way we are loving them.
My kids clean their own rooms, make their own lunch, do their own laundry… so when I jump in and fold their clothes, I’m demonstrating my love for them by serving them – being favorable and a convenience to them.
Sometimes we’d rather serve the whole world than serve the ones we are ‘the boss of’. But, it’s in those moments of serving the youngest, that we are becoming great in the eyes of the King.
“So Jesus called the disciples together. Do you want the Kingdom run like the Romans run their kingdom? Their rulers have great power over the people, but God the Father doesn’t play by the Romans’ rules. This is the Kingdom’s logic: whoever wants to become great must first make himself a servant; whoever wants to be first must bind himself as a slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as the ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:25-28 (The Voice)