My son was not happy with me. He learned how to mow the lawn last year so this year it was his weekly chore. At this point in his young life, he is not a big fan of mowing the lawn. He rushes through the job as quickly as possible. Streaks of uncut grass line the backyard at various intervals.
So, I waited until he was done, had come in to sit down, and then made him go out and mow the spots he missed.
He believed I was torturing him. I think he said he was going to report me to the government for cruel and unusual punishment. How he knew this at age 12 impresses me.
After his anger subsided and he was cooled down, I asked him why he gets so upset when I ask him to finish a job correctly.
His response went down a few rabbit trails but in essence he said, “I don't want to do it and you just like making me do stuff I don't want to do.”
So being a preacher, I saw this as an excellent opportunity for a sermon.
“Son,” I said, “a dad’s job is not to make you do stuff. A dad’s job is to give you what you need to be successful as an adult. Whether that be knowledge, a skill, or an ethic.”
“I have no idea what an ethic is, Dad….”
“An ethic is a conviction about your life. Would you ever cheat someone to make a buck?”
“Absolutely not,” he quickly replied.
“That is an ethic, never cheat someone. The more ethics you have, the better your life will be. One ethic I am trying to give you is: “if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right.” I have no desire to make your life hard or miserable. I want your life to be free and successful. I am not trying to take something from you, I am trying to give you something.”
I learned a lot about Jesus when I became a father. This conversation is one I have had with Him numerous times over the years. Struggling with doing something I didn’t want to do.
When I finally was able to do it, my entire perspective changed. I no longer resented it but realized the gift Jesus intended it to be.
It all comes down to what we actually believe about Jesus. Does He want to take something from me, or does he want to give something to me?
It has taken many years but I am beginning to understand that Jesus is only in the business of giving. It is an act of faith on my part to receive what He wants to give.
I hope and pray my youngest son will grow to understand that my only goal is to give him something. I guess I am hoping my son grows to trust me as I am growing to trust Jesus.