We can’t give our children what we don’t have

I remember the evening well. It was late. Kayden and I had just arrived home from a late afternoon soccer game. We were wet, tired, cold, hungry, and NOT in the math mood. If you didn’t already know it, I’m an ENGLISH teacher.

I do not “math”.

She was beside herself with grief over this math problem about the size of a basketball court and shapes and numbers and all the ridiculous “math”ness.

I had absolutely nothing to give her. I tried to “math” at the best of my ability, but I just couldn’t solve x (I think x should solve its own problem).

Lucky for me, I have several of my math peeps on retainer (being a teacher has multiple perks), and several text and Facebook drawings later, we had solved the problem. All was well with the Wisehart world and we crashed into our beds satisfied.

I couldn’t give Kayden what I didn’t have myself. But in the case of math, I could call upon my math muse friends and they could make beautiful symphonies out of scribbled stuff.

But that’s not the case with everything.

If I don’t exercise, it’s unlikely that Kayden will make a regular habit of exercising as she gets older.

If I don’t eat good food, I can’t expect that when Kayden leaves the house she’ll just “know” what’s good for her.

If I don’t go to church, she probably won’t, either. And later on, when she’s a young adult out of college, it would be ridiculous of me to wonder why she’s not connecting to a life giving community. I didn’t do it, why should she?

If I don’t have a regular habit of kindness, compassion, and servanthood, well, I think you’re understanding the premise.

I can’t give Kayden what I’m not doing myself.

Remember that song, “Cat in the Cradle” (or something like that)? It was about a dad who never had time to spend with his son. Then, later in life when he wasn’t so busy, when he WANTED to spend time with him, the son was busy himself.

He didn’t pass family time on to his son. He didn’t have it to give, and his son didn’t receive it. So later, his son didn’t have it to give back.

This doesn’t mean I should wallow in mom guilt and cry about my lack of Pinterest pancakes and cut-out butterfly sandwiches. That’s not something I am keen to pass on to Kayden. She doesn’t have to be Pinterest Perfect. It means I should think about what really matters and make sure I’m passing it on.

What are the non-negotiables in life? What are the absolute must-haves for Kayden to live a full, complete, Best Day Ever Adventure when she leaves my house to set out on her own journey?

For me, the biggest non-negotiable is her relationship with Jesus. And if that’s the most important thing, I should be filling myself up with Him so I can give Him to her. I should model my faith in both word and action. That is evident where I place my time, my talents, and my treasure (money).  I tell you what, I don’t always do it perfectly. But Kayden isn’t likely to “get” what I can’t give her myself.

Yes, yes. There are those of us who picked up many positives along the way from other mentors in our lives because we had to – things we didn’t get at home. I understand that home lives are not always what they should be. But here’s the deal. If you have the capability, don’t you WANT them to learn it at home? Don’t you WANT them to get from YOU the best parts of life so they can live them out? Isn’t that why we are PARENTS?

As a teacher, I understand that if I don’t teach writing correctly to my students, they won’t get it – and they won’t be ready for the next consecutive year of writing. They can’t get from me what I’m not learning myself. If I don’t consistently develop my skills and learn and grow, then they can’t, either.

That’s why I need to do what I want the “millennials” to do and STOP COMPLAINING about the “millennials”. We (and I) love to wag our fingers about teenagers and children and “the next generation”. I need to look at MYSELF and see if I’m modeling for them the way I would like them to live. With:

Kindness.

Gentleness.

Goodness.

Faith.

Compassion.

Self-Control.

Forgiveness.

Selflessness.

Understanding.

Listening.

Am I doing the stuff I expect Kayden to do? Or am I expecting her to live up to standards I don’t even keep myself?

Just something I’m thinking about.

Wrenches & Worship

I woke up to a jostling of the bed.  As I opened my eyes, I saw my five year old daughter standing over me holding a tray, my wife beside her.

“Happy Father’s Day!” my daughter Kayden shouted in her high pitched squeaky voice.  I was greeted with breakfast in bed, Father’s Day cards, and a wrapped gift.

After I opened the gifts on the tray, Kayden said, “Dad I got you another gift all by myself.”  I looked to my wife Carrie. She looked as surprised as I was.

“You did? What is it?” I asked.

Kayden pulled her hand from behind her back, extended it toward me, and with excitement exclaimed, “Tada! I got this for you, Dad!” I looked down at her little hand. She was holding a wrench. No wrapping, no bow, just a wrench.

I smiled and took the wrench in my hands. As I looked it over, I noticed something very familiar about this wrench. In fact, it was a wrench I had owned for many years and kept on my workbench out in the garage. My smile must have expanded as it dawned on me what Kayden had done.

“You like it don’t you Dad?” Kayden interjected.  I warmly replied, “Kayden I love it! This is perfect.”

While this was one of the most unusual gifts I had ever received, it was one that I will never forget. Kayden, as a five year old, had no resources of her own to buy me anything. Even if she had some money, she had no real concept of what to buy me.  So, on her own she did what she thought I would like.  She went out to the garage and picked out one of my tools and gave it back to me as a gift. Kayden had heard me talk about how I valued my tools, how I had a special place for each one.   In her little mind the best gift she could come up with was to give back to me what I valued, what I already owned.

While this was quite comical and cute to see Kayden miss the traditional concept our culture teaches us of how to give a good gift, I was ultimately struck with a powerful impression from the Holy Spirit. I felt the Lord whispering to me, “Brady, that’s what I long for you to do with me. It brings me great joy, my son, when you give back to me what is already mine.”

While the high pitched squeaky voice days of my daughter have long passed, I have often reflected on that moment along with the insight the Lord gave me.  I think of this just about every time I lead our congregation in worship.

What God really desires in worship is for us to give back to Him what He already owns.

When we give of our tithes and offerings, they are already His! When we sing praise of His glory, we are declaring who He has always been, who He already is.  It is not as if my praise and worship increase His net worth.  It’s more of the Father being blessed by His children giving back to him what He already owns.

When our worship is unwrapped, raw and real…

When our worship is acknowledging, we don’t have much of anything to offer on our own…

When we come to grips with our fleshly inability to comprehend what God desires…

When we come as a child who takes what we have seen and heard our Father value and offer that to Him…

That’s when we enter into worship that moves the heart of God.

What are you giving to God in worship?

I invite you to go on a shopping spree for God.

The next time you give an offering, a tithe, a gift of you time or talent, view your gift as giving back to God what is already His.

The next time you sing a song of praise or give a testimony of His greatness, view your gift as giving back to God what He already owns.

Worship can be an adventure of searching for what He values, what He already owns and offering it back to Him as a gift.

Our Father longs to greet you with His ever-expanding smile, and His warm words of affirmation, “My daughter, my son, I love it! This is perfect!”

-Brady

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