I’ll Go Second

“It’s my turn!” whined Hannah.
“You already held him a long time. It’s my turn!” came Benjmamin’s rebuttal.
“Mo-o-om!” they cried in unison.
I walked out to the carport and stared at their faces. I didn’t have any good idea for a resolution to their latest it’s-my-turn argument. Paper-rock-scissors? Set the timer? Force them to take turns? Get rid of the cat?

Well, it wasn’t the cat’s fault that they were fighting. Why send the kitten away? Setting the timer and arbitrarily deciding who would hold the cat first wouldn’t teach them anything, either. Except maybe favoritism, because I would choose the one with the least offensive whine (if there is such a thing). And a game of chance wouldn’t address the real issue, namely self-centeredness.

I tossed up a quick prayer that went something like “Lord, I don’t have a clue as to what to do right now. HELP!”

In the time it took me to say, “Alright, you guys need to hush,” I had my answer.

The Holy Spirit reminded me of Philippians 2:3-4, which says, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

I recited it to the kids, and He helped me to gently explain to them that the real issue was NOT who’s going to hold the kitten first, but who is going to have the joy of allowing the other one to go first. Who will think of the other better than himself? Who will glorify the Lord by looking to the interests of someone else rather than his own interests?

They were quiet for a few moments. Benjamin put a big smile on his face and pointed to his sister and said, “Hannah can go ahead.” Then he ran off across the yard to play while she held the kitten. His face held no trace of a grudge…only joy!

Oswald Chambers said, “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” God’s ways do not make sense in this world. This world encourages us to be first. Second place is just the first loser, right? We may not understand it, but in God’s economy, scrambling to be the first and the best gains nothing. The servant is the master. The least is the greatest. The one who dies, lives. Yesterday, Benjamin showed his faith in God’s character. God has promised to be a rewarder to those who believe that He exists and diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Benjamin is banking in Heaven, forsaking immediate pleasure because he believes in God.

Petting a kitten seems trivial, but he is only a child. It was a test for him, nonetheless. I know his trials and temptations will become more difficult as he grows. At the same time, I pray that his faith and confidence in God grows in greater measure.

13 Comments on “I’ll Go Second

  1. Leslie, you are a gifted writer 🙂 You know, I get so caught up in just solving the problem and making it go away. I just realised while reading this that I’m missing opportunities to teach my children during those conflicts.


  2. What a wonderful lesson and story! Even in his youth…he understood the sacrifice yet joy prevailed!


  3. Thank you so much for sharing those wonderful thoughts. And how true it is – joy that comes from letting go of something. It reminds me of the joy I have when I let go of a grudge…


  4. This is great, you are a wonderful mother Leslie. Thank you for your insight.


  5. Leslie, I meant to say to you as well, I LOVE your new profile picture!!


  6. A teaching moment for your children, that also became a teaching moment for you! Isn’t God good! Thanks for sharing this story. 🙂


  7. What a wonderful life lesson to teach your children! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this week’s quote. 🙂


  8. I LOVE your blog….and the things you share on parenting!!! This is CONTINUALLY an issue in our home (to no surprise), but I just LOVE the way the Lord led you in that instance with that verse….and how you gently led your children to consider one another better than themselves WITH JOY!!! What a wise mommy you are!!! Thanks for sharing – please keep sharing!!! I’ve been praying for a woman to meet with that I really look up to! If you were in our area, I’d be seeking you out to meet with on a regular basis!!! : )


  9. Shawnda–Be for real! That was one great God-initiated moment in the midst of a bunch of Leslie-ruinated ones. But I’d love to hang out with you anyway!


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