He was very proud as he handed me the glass. My morning protein shake, in bed even! I rolled over, still not 100% awake, and took the glass. My heart plummeted. Really, Lord? I prayed. It’s not even 7:00 am. Now what am I supposed to do? I don’t need this this morning. I was not having the best of mornings, and I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet.
Why, you ask? Why would you be so grumpy about your son bringing you breakfast in bed? What a sweet act of service! What a sweet boy!
“What did I tell you about touching my shakes?” I ask him.
The boy looked confused. “I don’t know,” he replied. “It was Sister’s idea. She thought you’d like breakfast in bed.” My eyebrow went up. This was more serious than I thought.
Serious? I can hear you thinking now. How could it be so serious? What a sweet daughter, to make you breakfast in bed. What a sweet girl, thinking of her mother like that!
Except she wasn’t thinking of me. She was being disobedient. For over a week, my daughter had asked to make my shakes. For over a week, I’d told her no. I was very particular about my shakes, and they weren’t cheap. I told her that when she was old enough to drink them herself (the nutritional content was not good for a child, it was a shake for an adult), I’d show her how, and she could make her own. Until then, she was to leave my shakes alone. However, my daughter kept insisting. It was the grown up thing to do in our house. Daddy and Mama had their shakes every morning while the children had their breakfast. Grown-ups made and had the shakes. She needed to prove to me how good she was, so I would let her have the shakes.
So, you see, it wasn’t about serving Mama. It was about brownie points. And in the process, she had deliberately disobeyed me when I had told her not to touch my shakes. My sweet minded girl was not being so sweet, after all. She was being manipulative and deceitful.
I headed downstairs and found her in the kitchen. She smiled sweetly. “Did you enjoy your shake Mama?”
We had quite the talk. It all came out. It usually does, when she realizes that I was 10 years old once, too, and have already figured out her game. She put the idea in her brother’s head, and then sent him up with the shake. The plan was, if I was happy, she could take the credit and look good. If I was upset, she could blame her brother. Not strong on virtuous girlhood this morning. We had a long talk. We spoke of service, of manipulations, and of love languages. We spoke of how Christian service, the service of the Virtuous Woman, is not the means to an end. It is so much more than that. It is sacred.
A servant’s heart is something we try so very hard to instill in our children. Proverbs 31 tells us that the Virtuous Woman “stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.” We want that for our daughters, to see a need, and fill it. Be an ambassador of Christ in all she does, feeding the poor, serving the helpless. And service starts at home, after all…
But what happens when service simply becomes a means to an end. Is it still service? How do we deal when our daughters start using their service as a means for manipulation? We, of course, pray! And then we stop and take stock of what we’re teaching.
Are we teaching our children to look at service as a way to get what they want? Think about it a moment. Why do we tell our children to say please and thank you? Because they’re magic words! They give you what you want! Why do they help Mama out? Because a happy Mama means more treats/playtime/outings/whatever it is they want. But is that the point of service? To get what one wants.
Until our children learn the joy and satisfaction of serving for Jesus’ sake, their motives will always be less than pure.
Heavenly Father, Help me teach her the difference between service and manipulation. Help me teach my daughter that a true servant’s heart comes only from having Your heart for the world. Let her always strive to show others that they are loved, filling their love tanks up, before worrying about her own. Teach her that that is the only way to truly understand love and servanthood. Let her focus be not on herself, but always on You, and, through You, Your people. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Kristi has been married to her Prince Charming since 2000. They are blessed with six children, including three daughters, ages 10, 2, and 2. The have recently moved to Nashville, TN, and are enjoying getting settled into urban life again. Kristi blogs about homeschooling, life, faith at The Potter’s Hand Academy.