By: Shannon Popkin

This morning, when I went to wash out Cole’s thermos, I found that it was full. He hadn’t even eaten the healthy meat-and-potatoes lunch I packed yesterday, and now it had to be thrown out.

So I lectured him about the price of beef these days. I went on and on and on while Cole stared into his cereal bowl.

Then, when I went to grab Cade’s lunch bag (which also contained a thermos), I found that it was missing. He didn’t know where it was. Said he already looked in his locker.

So I lectured him on the price of a lunch bag and the even greater price of a thermos. I went on and on and on  while Cade stared at his bagel.

Then, the boys solemnly gathered their things, promised to do better, and headed out the door. After they left, I realized that all of my lecturing about waste… had wasted our few moments together. There had been no time to read Scripture. No extra moments to joke around or buoy them up with encouragement. No smiles or playful banter. Just a quick hug at the door and they were off.

What a waste.

During Jesus’ ministry on earth, he didn’t waste time lecturing. He turned everything that happened into a teachable moment. Every object became an object lesson.

I wonder how Jesus would have responded to the full and missing thermoses in my kitchen this morning. Maybe there would have been a story about three boys sent to school with thermoses. Or maybe an object lesson that began with, “No one fills a thermos and then puts it under their bed…” I’ll bet there would have been time for some playful banter before the bus came.

I want to redeem the moments with my kids like Jesus did; not waste them with empty lecturing.

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