AWRIGHT DEN: My shopping list
CHILDREN WHO NORMALLY go to their parents with the attitude, ‘I want, I want, I want’, more often than not don’t receive. Although it is innate for a child to beg or ask for something, if this is at the forefront of interactions with a parent, it can become both annoying and frustrating very quickly.
When parents believe their children see them as mainly a “shopping mall” or ATM machine, they will probably be less willing to give and may think their child is ungrateful and selfish.
On the other hand, children who normally go to their parents with the attitude of service, often receive without even asking. These children ask: “How can I help you with the laundry, the dishes, sweeping the house, washing the car, folding the clothes and preparing the food?” I have found that children who adopt this attitude have a greater understanding of their parents and also a closer relationship with them, since a spin-off of service time is spending quality time.
When parents know that their child loves them, see their willingness to help and enjoy spending time with them, they are very willing to reward the children’s wishes and often do so without the child asking. Most parents already know their children’s wants and needs and are looking for opportunities to just surprise them with gifts. As a parent, I love to give my children gifts and watch with great joy how much that gift fills them with satisfaction and excitement.
Every parent was once a child and I often ask myself if some of the things my children do, I did as a child. Since becoming a parent, I often sit and compare my children’s relationship with me as their father, with my relationship with God as my heavenly Father. If you were to replace the parent and the child in the above examples with God and you, which scenario would represent your current relationship with Him?
So many of us treat God like a shopping mall and each time we go to Him, we take a shopping list. It’s all about what we want and what we can get to fulfil our physical needs. Our motive isn’t really to spend time with Him, or to know and understand Him more – it’s about getting something to satisfy ME, ME, ME.
In Matthew Chapter 6, we are instructed how to pray, and interestingly “thy will be done” comes before “give us this day our daily bread”. The child in scenario two sought after the ‘will’ of the parent. Our prayers should be focused first on, God, what is your WILL for me today; your WILL for me at this job; your WILL for how I am to love my spouse or my children; your WILL on who I should bless financially, etc?
If every time you raise your hand or go before the throne of God, your prayers are primarily focused on ‘what you want’ rather than ‘what God wants’, you will most likely not receive anything. James 4:6 says: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
Placing our wants before God’s wants is also a form of idolatry, and idolatry leads to separation and then to death. Jesus said He didn’t come to do His will but the will of the Father. The Bible encourages us to ask but it mustn’t precede seeking God’s will. Matthew 6:33 is a prime example of this and can be viewed as a contract. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness [your end of the contract] and all these things will be given to you [God’s end of the contract].”
Once you fulfil your end, God honours his. Just like the parent is looking for opportunities to reward the children, God is longing for opportunities to reward us. If there is one thing about God and science that marry well is the formula works; take care of God and He will take care of you.
My relationship with God represented the first scenario; I always went with a list. But since God convicted me of this approach, I still go with my shopping list but the first thing on it is: God, what is your will?
• Corey Worrell, a former Commonwealth youth ambassador, is director of C2J Foundation Inc., a project-based NGO focusing on social development.