Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Secret Service

The other day, while packing up to leave the house, I asked my six year old Grayden to do a small favor for me. 

Here was his response: 

"Why can't you do it?"

Even as I type his words I find myself needing to breathe and count to ten.

Grayden is normally very willing to help.  This was the first time he ever responded to a request for help in such a defiant way. 

His defiance in that moment sparked a battle in my flesh.  I would have liked to have responded in the Spirit by calmly, yet firmly, repeating my request.  Followed up by a firm reminder that our family is a team and that it takes all five of us to succeed.

Unfortunately, I responded in the flesh.  In anger, I threw a lot of flaming arrows right at him.  I'm pretty sure I started off with a very loud and sarcastic, "Excuse me?" 

And then followed that up with a long list of all the things I had done for him that day and how dare he act as though I'm sitting around twiddling my thumbs. 

And then I might have told him the world didn't revolve around him and that if he responded defiantly to my request again that he would be doing much more than what the measly request I had just asked of him required.

Friends, I'm really not ok with how I responded to him and I've thought about it a lot since.  Granted, he was wrong to respond with such defiance.  But my pathetic need to throw at him all my acts of servitude revealed to me how much I crave credit and recognition in motherhood.

He lit a fuse that had been sparking for months in my mind and heart.  Day in and day out I sacrifice my own needs for the needs of my children.  As their mother, I go from one task to the next where I serve, serve, and serve. 

Yet this isn't the problem for me.  The problem is that I do all this essentially in hiding or in secret.  No one sees the acts of service I do.  For a long time I've wanted to start of a list of all that I do in a given day.  Just so that I can show it to someone, anyone, and get some praise or recognition.  The truth is that I don't mind the serving, I just don't like doing it in secret.

So is it okay for me to crave a little recognition for those acts of mom-service done behind the scenes?

As hard as this is to say, the answer is No.

Matthew 6:1-4 solidifies this No.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

Sacrificing my own needs, desires, and agenda in order to serve my children is a form of giving.  And this teaching taught by Jesus reminds me that God rebukes the haughty giver who wants recognition from others.  But He rewards the one who gives in secret.

In motherhood, we are often called to serve in secret without craving recognition.   For when we serve our children to be recognized, we aren't serving them at all.  We are in fact serving ourselves and feeding our pride.

I ran across a powerful quote that speaks directly to this issue:

“Nothing disciplines the inordinate desires of the flesh like service, and nothing transforms the desires of the flesh like serving in hiddenness.
The flesh whines against service but screams against hidden service. It strains and pulls for honor and recognition.  It will devise subtle, religiously acceptable means to call attention to the service rendered.
If we stoutly refuse to give in to this lust of the flesh, we crucify it. Every time we crucify the flesh, we crucify our pride and arrogance.”   Richard Foster
Friends (Moms), when we find ourselves desperate to dictate or pen a list of all that we do, we must crucify the flesh and serve in hiddenness.  And as Jesus promised, when our Father sees what we've done in secret, He will reward us.  A reward that begins with a grand transformation of our own fleshly desires into Spirit desires and ends with a solid filling of His divine peace, joy, and genuine fulfillment.

Isn't it ironic how a defiant response from my son has sifted and refined me.  God is using motherhood to make me holy.  And I trust He is doing the same for you.

As I think about how I'd like to pray for my (and your) children today, I am compelled to pray that they would give of their possessions, their time, and themselves in secret without ringing a bell and letting the world around them know how generous they are.  I hope they will seek the Father's reward for secret and humble giving rather than settle for the generic praise the world might offer them.

Join me and let's pray!

You gave and gave of Yourself on this earth without ever craving the recognition you deserved.  I pray my children would have Your same attitude about giving.  I pray they would lay their possessions, their time, and themselves down in service to others with a humble heart.  And I also pray they wouldn't give in such a way that seeks attention and recognition.  Rather, I pray they would give in secret and eagerly wait for the Father's reward.  May they resist the cravings of the flesh to call attention to their services rendered.  May they draw strength from Your Spirit and crucify the flesh and its desire for honor.  May they make it their goal as they give (and serve) to please You and You alone.

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