“41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”—Mark 10:41-45 (ESV)
At Home Monday (Ahem) is a new feature where I clear my throat and write—or rant as the case may be—about being a stay at home Dad. As I wrote on Monday its not an easy spot to find yourself as a man, even in today’s world where some of the dark deep lines dividing up gender roles have been crossed so many times that they are being blurred or erased altogether. Trust me, I am quite aware of the dynamic involved. It’s a brain bender, to be sure, for a man to do what I do. It’s even worse for the good churchmen I run into. So much so that they are on occasion inspired to mock or even revile me for what I do. I don’t blame them. I am so far out of their paradigm—can I use that word outside of the nineties? Paradigm?—that they can’t even really conceive of an actual stay at home Dad who isn’t just sitting around waiting for the wife to bring home the check and fix his supper.
As I wrote on Monday its not easy to be that kind of servant. That kind of daily laying down of your life that John had to have experienced in his long martyrdom (as we talked about last week) or even that of Christ going to the cross is hard to fathom. “For even the Son of Man” Jesus says in Mark 10:45, “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He came to serve. He came to take care of the Fathers business. He came to serve.
It’s tough to be a servant and there aren’t many good examples of it out there these days. That is the thing I am most grateful for with regard to being at home with the kids and taking care of the house: I now have a PhD in servitude. And four little selfish taskmasters to boot.
Children require patient gentle service and instruction and this takes a big piece of your life. Remember that when you think about having them. As old as I am—and no I’m not telling you how old—I still call my Dad up from time to time and ask him questions. I still call him up and say, “Dad, I just don’t get it.” It’s a lifelong commitment to service—servitude if you will. I think this is one of the reasons so many men father children but fail to become Dads. They want all that leads up to a family with regard to a wife and what that implies but they are unwilling to go beyond fulfilling their own needs. They are in it for themselves, not others. And then they are shocked and bewildered and blame everyone in sight when the whole thing comes crashing down. Or, having begun a family, they are unwilling to stay the course and simply run away. It’s a frightening proposition in this day and age especially when there are not that many solid examples of what a Man is supposed to do in a family.
Remember “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Even God’s own Son, the Christ, the Son of the Living God came to serve. To SERVE. Not to rule with a fist of iron. I mean, that was the Jewish presupposition He labored against. That’s why when they wanted to make him King, he left them. That’s why he waited until ‘just the right time.’ He came to serve.
And that takes some doing. You have to work at it.
Are you serving as you should? Do you have a place of service in your local church? That’s a good thing, but what about your family? Are you serving them? Do you serve them on a daily basis? Do you wipe noses and tie shoes and change diapers? Do you look after them and listen to them? Or are you too busy with your computer or your whatever to spend time with them? Are you absent while sitting right in front of them?
The thing about kids is that a lot of them figure this out early and just quit trying to get your attention. It’s really easy to sit and let all those young years go by and let them play while you do whatever. Don’t. Don’t do it. Be involved with your kids. Serve them. Serve your family and your church. Serve the brothers and sisters at your home church. Find something to do in the world that allows you some service.