What if I Mess this Up?

“Lead me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all the day long” (Psalm 25:5).

Years ago, a mom-friend of mine sat on the big blue couch in my living room and confessed, “I feel like all I do all day is tell my kids what to do and how to do it. I’m constantly in teaching and correction mode.”

I nodded my head knowingly and sympathetically and absolutely had no idea what she was talking about.  At the time, I had a baby less than a year old.  Our conversations usually went like this, “Momma loves you.  You’re so sweet.  Where’s your nose?  Oh, you’re so smart.”

And then she’d respond with, “Mama” or something else equally superior and I’d just know we had connected and that she was a genius bound for great things.

But now I’m older and my kids are older.  One day at dinner I remembered the words of that mom and realized that she could be describing my life.

Wash your hands before you eat.  Use soap!  Sit like a lady.  Talk like a lady.  Eat like a lady.  Chew with your mouth closed.  Use a napkin.  Don’t spill your milk.  Clean up the milk you spilled.  Clear your place when you’re done eating.

Brush your teeth.  Up and down.  Front to back.  Don’t forget your tongue.  Brush every single tooth.  Don’t leave globs of toothpaste in the sink, on the wall, or on the floor.  Hang up wet towels; towels can’t dry all crumbled together and thrown on the counter.

Don’t hit your sister.  Don’t yell at your sister.  Don’t manipulate your sister.  Don’t push your sister. Don’t boss your sister.  Don’t roll your eyes at your sister.  Don’t tattle on your sister.

Do your homework . . . neatly.  Take pride in your work.  Practice the piano.  Study your memory verses.  Put your shoes away—shoes and socks do not live in the middle of the kitchen floor.  A place for everything and everything in its place.

At times it feels like we’re prepping kids for the standardized tests of life and that means covering table manners, relationship skills, character issues, faith lessons, and more.

This isn’t just about the Mom-life.  Teachers, church leaders, aunts, grandmas, big sisters, small group leaders and more all have speeches we’ve mastered and a curriculum to cover.

But what if we miss something?  What if there’s a question we don’t know how to answer?  What if we get it wrong and miss out on cultivating one of their gifts or fail to correct a character weakness?

What about the fact that I can look at my daughters and marvel at how God has made them and yet be scared out of my mind when I think of the herculean responsibility of molding their character?

This week, I was praying for the summer plans for my daughters, for their next school year and the teachers they will have, for how to connect with them and how to be the mom God wants me to be in their lives.

Then I read the account of Samson’s birth in Judges 13.

In true Biblical fashion, Manoah and his wife hadn’t been able to have kids.  And, just as you might expect, an angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife and told her she would have a son and he would be set apart for God from the very beginning as a Nazirite—no alcohol, no cutting his hair, nothing unclean.  From before conception, God had a plan for Samson: “He shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5).

What an honor for Manoah and his wife to parent this future leader of their nation!

And what a huge responsibility!  It must have been overwhelming as parents to wonder if they could mess this up.  What if they parented poorly?  What if they failed?  Could their mistakes prevent God’s plans?

So, Manoah “prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born’” (Judges 13:8 ESV).

The truth is that God has given all of us ministry and responsibility and it’s all too much for us.  In our own strength and ability, we’re absolutely not enough to parent our kids, teach our students, run that ministry, serve the needy, organize that relief effort, instruct that class, write that devotional, lead that worship, speak to that hurting friend.

We’re just not enough for any of this.

Manoah, however, set an example for us by asking God for help.  He turned to God, His Master, and asked, “teach me how to do this!”

And God did.

We serve that same Master, our Lord, our Adonai.  When He assigns a task, when He places these children in our lives, when He puts it on our heart to start that ministry . . . He doesn’t just dump it on us and run.

As our Master, He commissions us, directing us where to serve, assigning us ministry, determining our life-effort.

As our Master, He trains us, guides us and instructs us.  He gives us the tools we need, equipping us for the job He’s assigned.

When it all seems too much for us and we feel overwhelmed by the task, we can pray with honesty:  “God, I’m clueless.  I don’t know where to begin.  I don’t know how to get it all done.  I don’t know where to go or how to make this happen.  Please teach me.”

And He will.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

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