“Daddy, I’m done!”
I was about to bust. I had just sat down, thinking the kids were finally asleep. So, naturally, I paused and – as absurd as it sounds – hoped those words came from the television. The nagging words came again, “Daddy, I’m done!”
Sitting deep in my favorite spot on the couch, I thought, “I worked a long hard day. I had to manage the family at dinner. I had to put the kids down. And I just plopped in front of the television. Now this?!”
The words came a third time: “Daddy, I’m done!”
Down the hallway I stomped and there I stood in front of my kid on his porcelain throne. This must have been the thousandth time I needed to wipe his rear end. And frankly, I didn’t want to! I looked up to heaven, and threw my hands up and yelled (in my head and heart at least), “Surely God, I was made for something greater than this!”
Though that was years ago, I still feel the sting of from that incident.
Without a doubt, that was one of my low points in parenting. I wanted so badly to embrace passivity and reject responsibility- by not caring for my little one. And I wanted so badly to lead and invest selfishly- by caring for myself instead!
Sadly, my prayer protest to God revealed what I really thought of my God-given mission to care for my son in that moment:
I want to abandon my God-given mission
because serving myself is of greater importance.
Whether you have children or not, you may be able to identify with such behavior.
Here’s a breakdown of what was in my heart:
“Surely God…” Anyone who starts a sentence with the word “surely” is in for trouble, especially if that sentence is directed towards God. I’m pretty sure demanding that God answer our rhetorical questions is not commended in the Bible. Nevertheless, my question/statement revealed my pride, a complaining heart, not to mention a deep distrust in God, His plan, and His mission. My heart said, “Surely God, you made a mistake on this one! It must be that you wrongly assigned this task to me.”
“…I was made…” In my pride, not only did I protest, but I followed up my protest by reminding God what He had made me for. Clearly I thought I knew better than the Creator. My heart said, “Don’t you know God, I am underutilized and not being used to my full potential? If you would just align your opinion of me, with my opinion of me, we wouldn’t be having this problem!”
“…for something greater than this…” In my make-believe kingdom, the task of cleaning and wiping my son’s butt was clearly beneath me. In my own estimation, I was destined for “greatness”—going about church ministry, solving the world’s problems, world hunger, the sex trade, and whatever else I couldn’t think of at the moment.
What a fool I was!
I was so proud: wanting to run my own life, according to my own desire, thinking I knew best.
I was so selfish: hijacking God’s mission for me to bless others, and instead seeking only to bless myself.
I was so hard-hearted: God cares for the helpless, and there I stood in front of my helpless son, finding such care dull, tedious, and mind-numbing.
Thank God for the Spirit who brings conviction. And thank God for His grace, mercy, and forgiveness. As I said, He certainly helps the helpless—namely me!
What can help us pursue our God-given mission to live freely and fully for Him?
1. Ditch your delusions of earthly grandeur. I’ll be honest, my protest prayer stemmed from a cold heart that didn’t want to be inconvenienced —and that, by my own son.
In the moment, caring for someone other than myself was an inconvenience. And all the grand things “greater than this”, basically amounted to: a) being left alone, b) to watch my show, c) with an ice-cold beverage in one hand and the remote in the other.
But, even if God calls us to far-reaching positions of leadership, He never intends for us to neglect our most foundational responsibilities—loving Him and the family he has given us. Even King David, though he had a kingdom to protect and enemies to confound, created a tender family atmosphere that left a lasting impact on his son Solomon (Prov 4:3-4).
Reject passivity. Let’s ditch our delusions of grandeur. Instead, let’s joyfully and determinedly accept our God-given mission, relying on His power for strength to fulfill it.
2. Trust that true significance is found in God’s design and mission for you. I don’t think it’s too difficult to make the point that we’ve reached a personal low when we think greatest significance is found in doing what we want, when we want, and taking no junk from no one as we do it. Chasing significance rooted in our own designs will only take us as high as our heads will reach.
But true and ultimate significance is found living for God and fulfilling his mission for us.
Every opportunity to interact with our kids is an opportunity to display a little bit more of the character of God, even when cleaning up after them. Can you believe it? That’s why God made men and women in “His own image”, to image Him to our children, and the world (Gen 1:26)
As fathers, we are to image the Father, to our children. Now that’s a weighty calling. As Christians, we are to love our children, as God has loved us: self-sacrificially, personally, and passionately for the sake of Christ.
Living in that reality, standing in front of a helpless and needy 3-year-old on his porcelain throne, becomes an opportunity, a calling, and mission to display the Father’s always selfless, always patient, always-gonna-show-up love.
What a mission! God has called all Christian fathers to invest in their children with the intention of seeing eternal fruit born for His glory. Let’s lead courageously, in the strength of Christ, who loved us needy and desperate people, and who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross to clean up our mess, once and for all.
You, too, can help support the ministry of CBMW. We are a non-profit organization that is fully-funded by individual gifts and ministry partnerships. Your contribution will go directly toward the production of more gospel-centered, church-equipping resources.