Our daughter, an enthusiastic pre-Ker, is a bit of a task master. She’s focused, enjoys order, and thrives with protocol. Messing with this one’s routine reaps mixed results.
Largely, this part of her personality makes her a total joy to parent. But I think I saw something this week that made my parenting spidey sense tingle.
Recently, she told us “she doesn’t like spending time with people who don’t follow directions.” Interesting. Fair enough. I get that. She picked this up from school, which understandably, is big on rules. Sometimes, the class may not be able to enjoy a fun activity because all the students didn’t follow the directions. Overall, I like that she finds following the rules the good thing to do.
But what to make of the other side of this equation? What about those kids that don’t follow the rules? While I felt a small Mommy win for seeing a task master this week, I also saw a little red warning flag: PRIDE. Later in the week, a young student of robust personality greeted us while walking into the building. I greeted her back. (I’m always touched when kids offer such large hearted ‘hellos’, I just want to hug them!) My daughter did not greet her, and then informed me, quite audibly, that particular student was of the group that did not follow directions. (And she didn’t whisper this!) Oh, my.
For her to actively choose to spend time with the kids who follow the rules is acceptable and welcomed by me, but I’m sensing a delicate balance here. It’s not okay to smirk at and shun the kids that don’t. I felt like, even though she is only 4, I was personally delivered a spiritual memo, I was put on notice: her heart towards all of the kids needs consideration. Yes, I want her to spend time with the rule followers, but do I really want her to think less of, respect less, elevate herself above those that don’t? If I’m not careful, my encouragement may do just that – and I fear I may be that “Christian” parent that tries her hardest to raise a “Christian” kid only to have that kid grow up thinking she is better than others. There isn’t much “Christ-like” about that. My mission has become even more clear: I’m teaching obedience and respect, undoubtedly, but also, obedience, respect, and humility. Just because you follow the rules, doesn’t mean your better than the one next to you. Sure. Good choices reap good consequences and good results. I’m okay with her learning that. But if I’m not intentional about this entire “Christian” life, she’ll grow up thinking that because of her goodness, she’ll get by. And that’s isn’t the message at all.
You know what impacts me and shows me Christ? Humility. People who openly share their lives with me instead of convincing me how well they follow the directions.
Jesus loved, served, counseled, helped, encouraged the people nobody else wanted to. He died for them as much as those who earnestly sought him and his righteousness. He was a man of strong conviction and strong humility: he didn’t look down on others or look for ways, in thought or action, to elevate himself.
I was, at first, tempted to laugh off our daugther’s encounter this morning. I don’t think the other child heard it, nor her mother. But I heard it. And I just can’t laugh it off. It begs me to prayerfully consider. Too many people who need Jesus are turned off by Christians who are thoroughly convinced that they are good, and others are bad. The categories, the comparisons, the ‘us’ and ‘them’ are distracting and toxic, and a powerful tool of the Devil’s arsenal.
I’m trying to follow Jesus and raise little beings that want that too. I’m pointing them to a Savior that loved and served all: including those that didn’t always follow the directions.