Last week, I took my 11-year-old with me to Costco. (Why do so many of my stories take place at Costco??) He had just been there on a field trip, and received a badge with the Costco logo and his name on it, which resembled an employee name tag. So he was wearing it, and pretending to be an employee.
He kept walking up to various workers, who were standing at the door, or arranging clothes on the tables and saying, “Let me help with that!”, or, “I can take a shift here.” He wanted to see if he could fool anyone, and was having (what I considered) harmless fun. He would come find me, and excitedly tell about what someone had let him help with, then be off to find the next ‘job’.
The fun ended, though, at the checkout lane. He told the lady loading our cart, “I can handle this order!” She gave him a stern no, and said that employees were supposed to load the cart. Never mind that he had helped me put most of the stuff into the cart, and then onto the belt. Apparently, coming off the belt and back into the cart was a customer hazard.
My son, not one to give up easily (or take a hint), pressed the lady a bit further. He said, “Oh, you look tired. I could just give you a hand…” But she was adamant. She said her boss might see that she was letting a customer load. Well then, of course, he had to show her his Costco badge, and show that he was official! She did not budge. She did not play along. Instead, she drew an imaginary line and insisted that he, the customer, stay on his side of the line.
I did the right thing; I reinforced what the Costco lady said and told my son to stay over by me. And my son was absolutely fine; no harm done. But I wasn’t fine. I was smiling on the outside, but on the inside, I was fuming! I thought, Why can’t you just let the kid have his fun. He’s not doing anything wrong! Why do you have to be so cranky and controlling? You get one teensy slice of the world to manage; do you have to treat it like your dominion? (I’m guessing this woman is a Control Girl.)
As I walked out of Costco, I remembered that morning. How I had gotten all cranky and controlling about my son’s bedroom, which had Legos all over the floor. I had also made him stop playing the song he was composing on the piano (and repeating over and over), so I could think straight. And I had griped about him not hearing me call, because he was out on the trampoline.
I realized that I was just like the cranky Costco lady! Only she was mindful of something I had forgotten–the boss, who keeps her accountable for how she treats the people in her care.
I don’t think of God as my boss, but I do think of Him as someone I’m accountable to, and Someone who will reward me for my faithfulness. God, who strategically designed my my son to be creative, to love building, and to have lots of energy, could easily turn to me with the same response I had for the cranky Costco lady: Why can’t you just let the kid have his fun? He’s not doing anything wrong! Why do you have to be so cranky and controlling. You get one little slice of the world to manage; do you have to treat it like your dominion?
I Peter 5:2-3 says, “When you shepherd the flock God has given you…. Don’t lead them as if you were a dictator, but lead your flock by example; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will be crowned with honor that will shine brightly forever.” (The Voice Bible, bold emphasis added)
I am not my kids’ dictator. They are not under my dominion. They belong to the Chief Shepherd, and I am just overseeing them, for the moment. God entrusted them to my care, and I’m just the temporary shepherd. So rather than making our home, their bedrooms, or our lives into “my dominion”, I must remember that all of these are under God’s dominion.
And really, that makes me a little less cranky and controlling–even when a Costco lady is cranky with my kid.