January 27, 2014

Slack?

Devotion for the Week...


Proverbs 18:9 says, "One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys." At first glance, this may sound a little harsh. After all, being slack in our work doesn't feel like we are destroying anything. But while we are not actively destroying, our lack of attention to the work we do can sometimes leave lasting damage.

I wrote this verse in the clipboard I use for devotion ideas months ago. At the time I thought I would use it for a quilting related devotion. The verse has been going through my head all day today, but not with a quilting connection, just a regular life one.
 
As a stay-at-home mom, my work involves caring for my three boys - getting them out the door for school in the morning with healthy lunches and snacks, helping with homework when needed, giving them my time and attention so they know they are valuable to me.

My work babysitting three other little ones involves changing diapers for the littlest two, making sure all three eat snacks and lunch, getting the youngest to take a nap (a feat in itself for a child who won't stick to a predictable schedule!) and playing with all of them throughout the day.

If I were slack in my work with either my own boys or the three I look after, it would not be an active destruction, but it would do damage. Not caring for them physically, with meals and snacks, clean diapers or appropriate naps, would hurt their bodies. Not giving them my time and attention in a positive way could hurt their self-esteem, their emotional development and their relationships with others as they grow older. Though each little task throughout the day may feel minor and insignificant, all of them together make for a work that needs to be done properly.

As I write this on Sunday evening, this verse really strikes home. It has been a somewhat 'off' day for me. You see, Nathan, my youngest, talks A LOT. As in constant. As in sometimes I feel like I am going to lose my mind if he doesn't just stop for a while. I struggle with finding the balance between listening to him, validating his ideas and thoughts, and preserving my sanity by telling him not to talk anymore. 

Today has been more of a preserve-my-sanity kind of day. I have really just wanted my own space while he has wanted nothing more than to tell me his favourite parts of the show he watched earlier, or to sing me a song or three.

I know all parents have days like this. I know I have not been slack in caring for Nathan or any of the others, but today makes me wonder how my moods affect my parenting. How my moods affect Nathan and his development. Thankfully, I also know that it takes more than one day to set how a child feels about himself. And normally I have more patience for listening to Nathan's chatter.

It is easy, though, to see how a pattern could develop. A pattern of days with no patience, of not listening to him, of always telling him to go find something else to do. While that would not be actively destroying him, it would be slacking off in the work that is required of a parent. It would be damaging to him, or to any child, in a much more subtle way. So I can see how "one who is slack in his work" could be seen as "brother to one who destroys." Not the same, no, but kin.

What is your work, paid or otherwise? How could slacking off in that work be damaging? Though you may not be actively destroying anything, cutting corners or doing less than your best could be making a negative impact on someone or on whatever project you are working on. Would you be working differently if there were a supervisor watching your every move?

The Bible tells us, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (Colossians 3:23, 24). That is our standard for everything we do. Though we will all have 'off' days, days when we just aren't ourselves, 'slack' should not be the word people would choose to describe our work.

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