Parenting: A “Have to” or “Get to” Mentality?

Empowering Our Children to Live with Purpose Now
October 5, 2018
Kids Encountering the Holy Spirit
October 18, 2018

I have found that adulthood (and parenthood) can be full of things that I need to do, but don’t necessarily want to do or enjoy doing. More than any other time in my life, I have been challenged in how I approach these situations now that I have two sets of eyes watching and two sets of ears listening to my every move. I believe that more than anything else our children will learn from our example, and so my responses in these moments matter tremendously.

I want to share about an idea that I am working to instill in my own life as well as my children’s. When faced with something that I don’t really want to do or enjoy doing, I now work to choose to see it from the perspective of “getting to do it” rather than “having to do it”. This perspective shift moves from an entitled heart to a grateful heart. It not only allows me to do that thing with a good attitude, but it causes me to see the value in that thing and the effect it has on those around me.

Honestly, we can be no different than our children in some ways. We can get caught up in being focused on ourselves and can live from that place, resenting anything that interferes with our comfort or wants. But the gospel is about laying our lives down. The gospel is about putting ourselves aside for the sake of others. The gospel is about choosing obedience because we love the Lord and trust Him that His ways are better.

So, when we begin to be intentional to look at every opportunity from a “get to” perspective instead of a “have to” perspective, it shifts our eyes off of us, and moves them to the Lord and to the people around us. It takes the gospel from a concept to a practical reality being lived out in our lives. It reminds our heart to be thankful, and it relishes the opportunity to be Jesus’ hands and feet to someone. It moves what we think we deserve out of the spotlight. And it begins to transform our hearts and our minds.

Here are two areas that we will see marked growth as we put this into practice:

1. Gratitude

 In a moment of having to do something that you don’t want to do, figure out what you can be thankful for in that moment that directly connects. I personally really do not enjoy cleaning bathrooms, but when I have bathrooms to clean, I have begun to spend time thanking the Lord for indoor plumbing, thanking the Lord that I have a family to clean up after, etc. The perspective shift is amazing. I go from “having to” clean the bathrooms to “getting to” clean the bathrooms. It now feels like a privilege for me. And it is now a way of loving and serving my family rather than a means of making me miserable.

As we choose to speak words of gratitude, our heart will be changed in the process. I have many opportunities to both model this and to teach this to my children as I am instructing them in chores around the house and interactions with each other.

2. Dependence on the Holy Spirit

Often when we don’t want to do something, it is because we don’t feel like we can. These are the perfect opportunities to learn to invite the Holy Spirit in and to lean on His strength, skill, and wisdom. Sometimes we simply need a supernatural burst of energy, sometimes it’s discernment or wisdom, or sometimes it’s His heart for the situation or the people. No matter what it is, He has everything that we need.

Second Peter 1: 3 (ESV) tells us that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him called us to his own glory and excellence.” So, whether it is big things relating to our calling, or small things relating to the mundane activities in our life, He is the source; and rather than “have to,” we “get to” partner with Him to do them.

So, let us be a people who break loose of the self-centered, entitled attitudes of our culture and who recognize that in all things we “get to” lay down our lives for the Lord first and for those around us second. I believe that as we model this to our children, it will become the paradigm that they live from as well. This paradigm will cause them to live the gospel instead of just knowing it. How exciting is that??



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