We went to church on Father’s day. I really had enjoyed the Sunday school class. We were talking about Hebrews, and how Jesus was not a Levitical priest, but a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Heb 5:10) and that He was much greater than the Levitical priests because he came from an eternal priesthood. I came away from the class with a strong appreciation for the One who redeemed us and was ready to worship Him.
I got to the sanctuary and was settled with the boys in our normal spot right when the worship started. The kids get up and sing 2 songs and then ask, “Can I sit down?” and then read books for the rest of the worship time until they go to Camp Wannagape (children’s church). I don’t know how we got into this tradition, but I wish it was different. Most of the time the kids stand with their hands in their pockets and mumble the words of the songs, and sit down as soon as they can. I want them to enjoy worship. I want them to sing the songs out of a love for God and not obligation, but things are not always that way.
I guess I could be trying harder to make a difference. But honestly, I don’t think about it until we are in the moment, when it is really too late to have a heart to heart talk with the kids about having a attitude of worshiping God. And then half the time I’m either running the sound board or singing on the worship team, and although I can see the kids doing the same thing every week, I can’t do something about it right then.
I need to have a plan, a better plan than I have, but have really struggled over this. Can you make someone worship? Really worship? I can make my kids stand up and sing the songs. But worship comes from the heart and only the Holy Spirit can prick their heart in a way that they want to worship God. I can provide the opportunity, but not the desire.
I don’t know why I did, but I remember just enjoying God and worshiping him that morning, and as I glanced down at my oldest son, he had a bored, going-through-the-motions kind of look on his face. The second song was transitioning over to the third and he looked up at me and whispered the question. “Can I sit down now?” He was missing the feast, and something in me wanted him to receive the same Love that I felt from the Father. And so I said in a kind of asking way, “Just one more song?” But it had enough of a statement in it that I wasn’t taking a “No” for an answer.
My youngest just accepted the extra song and kept on singing, but my oldest got this pained look and started to cry and argue with me, “But Mom said we only had to sing 2 songs!” I countermanded this previous order with my own. “I want you to sing one more song.” And then I went back to worship.
A little later, I glanced back over and my oldest was so upset that he was starting to cause a scene. Crying and angry, he was not happy with singing another song, and he wasn’t. This wasn’t the effect that I was going for. So I told him to just sit down, but no reading.
At the end of the third song, he asked, “Can I read now?”
“No, you didn’t do what I asked. You can just sit there.”
Ok, now he was angry and pouting, seething by the look of it, particularly when I said that ~K~ could sit and read. And as I went back to worship, I realized that this whole thing wasn’t producing the results that I desired. Instead of enjoying the Father, he was resentful of me for not allowing him to do what he wanted. I needed to deal with this, but if I waited until after the service, it would be too late. I was losing time to worship, but this was more important.
So I asked ~K~ if he’d be ok sitting by himself. He said yes. Then I told ~D~ to come with me. We walked out of the sanctuary and outside the church. We sat down on some benches, still hearing the sounds of worship going on inside.
“What’s wrong, ~D~, why are you upset?”
“I’m angry because you made me sing another song after Mom told me I could read after 2 songs. Then you made me sit and wouldn’t let me read!”
I let him vent a bit and get it out. The lashing was what I expected from him, and more for his benefit. I wanted him to get his anger out.
We talked a little more and then I said, “~D~, I’m not trying to deprive you of reading. Its just that I see you going through the motions and just singing the words. I’m enjoying God so much and enjoying His love, but when I look at you, you look so unhappy. I wanted you to sing another song, because it seemed to me that you were missing experiencing how much God loves you. And that makes me sad.”
~D~ was quiet for a bit, and then said, “I see your point.” We talked for a few more minutes, but his anger had softened.
“Dad, we’re missing the rest of worship service.”
“I know, but I thought that this was more important.” And it was. This is what being a father is all about.