The Hardest Job (Prayer Devotional for the week of May 10, 2015)

My first job (not including babysitting) was working the cash register at a drycleaner. I remember a customer got upset because his jeans were only extra-starched, but not stiff enough to double as drum skins. It was laughable, but that wasn’t the hardest job, by any means. Several years later, I worked as a newspaper reporter, and I once got chewed out by my editor. That job got on my nerves, but even it wasn’t the hardest job.

 

Then, there was the time I had to eat scorpion and dog meat (not in the same meal) at my teaching job in China, or else risk offending the host. That was a little freaky, but certainly not the hardest job I’ve had. There was also the job where a bunch of people got fired, and I eventually left for a much lower paying position just to save my skin (and my sanity). That job took a toll on my emotional health, but even it wasn’t the hardest.

 

For me, the hardest job is parenting. I used to think it was tough when the kids were little and needed constant care and attention, but sometimes it feels even more difficult now that they’re older and can voice their feelings and opinions. I can think of few things more humbling than having a person whose poop you’ve wiped and whose puke you’ve caught with your own shirt tell you that they don’t want you as a parent, or that you’re “so mean” to them, or that you “never” do anything nice for them.

 

Yes, parenting is certainly one of the most delayed-reward jobs on the planet. There are verses like Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:20 that we can encourage our children to memorize and put into practice, but Proverbs 22:6 is the epitome of all parenting verses, as it gives us hope that one of these days, we’ll eventually see the fruit from our labors.

 

Some of you are still in the diapering days; others are already enjoying grandparenthood. Some are not parents, but you still have influence over the children in your life. May we be examples for them to emulate our love and respect for God, so that they will take it to heart and … excuse me, I have to go … someone was apparently playing catch with a rock in the backyard and caught it with his face. Sigh.

I want to be a part of that! (Prayer Devotional for the week of November 2, 2014)

I try really hard not to single out one kid over another (for better or for worse), but sometimes one of them says or does something that brings me to my knees (usually in prayer for endurance & peace, but other times for gratitude that God is allowing me to witness his work in their lives). One such gratitude-moment happened the other day, when my eldest and I were in the car together.

 

He was telling me something the youth minister had taught about the apostle Paul. He explained how whenever Paul went to a new city, he made a big impact, and the place was changed for the gospel. The youth minister then told the teens that THEY could be like Paul in our community, to make an everlasting imprint here for Christ. My son finished the story and then said, “Man, I want to be a part of that!”

 

There are a bazillion reasons that I could brag about why this kid makes me proud. He’s bright, funny, has more musical talent in his pinky finger than I have in my whole body, makes good grades, is a huge help around the house and with his little brothers … the list could go on and on. Yet, none of those accolades compares to the joy I felt as a parent when my son said that he wants to be a part of what God is doing in this place.

 

That same missions-minded Paul also served as a mentor for a young man named Timothy. I don’t know exactly how old Timothy was, at the time, but Paul once told him: “Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4: 11-12, NIV).

 

Ministry isn’t just for the pastors, elders, Life group hosts, and other lay leaders. What are you and I doing to encourage each other – and even our youth – to become ministers in their own circles? We hear a lot about how our youth are the leaders of tomorrow, and while that is true, it’s not the whole story. They are leaders NOW. Let us encourage them in word and example.