My four year old son loves doing projects with me. Any project. Today we stained a railing bordering exterior stairs to our basement. I showed him how to dip a brush in the stain, wipe off excess stain, and apply stain to the railing. To the best of his ability, he worked with me almost from start to finish. I used a roller and did most of the real staining. My son’s efforts weren’t adequate in themselves but they weren’t wasted either. He really applied stain to the railing. I incorporated everything he did–even his mistakes–into finishing the work.
Anytime I work with my kids–be it slinging stain, building a snow fort, or cleaning their rooms–I am reminded of God’s kingdom work. Scripture says we are co-laborers with Him (1 Cor. 3:9). Our many ministries and activities remind me of times my kids work with me. God gives us real jobs and responsibility in the kingdom work. In themselves, our contributions to the kingdom work are woefully inadequate. We probably mess up as much as we help. But God is doing most of the work. In His mastery, He is able to incorporate our best efforts and failures into building His kingdom.
This brings humbling perspective to any ministry we do. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously. We are self-important. Our Father is doing most of the work. Our successes aren’t as grand as we think. Our failures aren’t as catastrophic as we think. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Father looks at most of what we do and says, “Isn’t that cute?”
Projects are opportunities for relationship. We look on ministries and kingdom work as being ends in themselves. Perhaps the Father sees them as ways of being with us. A project is a way to rub elbows, to get our hands dirty together, to connect. In the midst of staining the railing, my son and I had an exchange that made my heart soar. He said, “Dad, I’m so happy to be painting with you!” “Why is that, son?” “Because it’s good dad time. I love dad time.” More than getting something done, I think our Father longs to hear that we love Dad time.