Messy discipleship in the home

The other day my son asked if he could help me make eggs for breakfast. My initial reaction to his request was one of complaint. After fighting the temptation to send him away I decided to use this father-son moment as a time of discipleship. I gathered all the materials we needed to make breakfast and then it happened.

My son asked if he could crack his own egg. I thought to myself, “Oh great, that means I’m going to have to clean up all your mess once you’re done.” To be completely honest I found myself getting frustrated by his request. Well, things got worse. I decided to let my son crack the egg. I wanted him to feel what the process of cooking was like. I wanted him to see the beauty of creating something and I wanted to use the whole moment as an opportunity for discipleship. I wanted to rejoice in the end process of discipleship without enduring the messiness of discipleship.

I reluctantly handed my son an egg and instructed him on how to crack the egg. Moments later, the egg is everywhere except in the bowl. “I knew this was going to happen”, I thought to myself.
This was exactly why I didn’t want my son’s help in the first place because I knew he was going to make a mess.

At this point, my son could feel the frustration oozing from my temperament as he shortly after begins apologizing to me. “I’m so sorry Papi. I’m never going to be able to make eggs.”

At that moment I had a decision to make. Was I going to communicate to my son that his help was useless and send him away to play with his toys while I cleaned up the mess he made and finish making breakfast by myself? Or, was I going to use this inconvenient moment to encourage my son and help build confidence in him?

By God’s grace, I chose the latter. I was able to use a broken moment and use to as a teaching moment. I was able to change my attitude just quick enough to help my son see that he isn’t a failure. While my son’s demeanor expressed discouragement I looked him in the eyes and said to him, “It’s okay papa, don’t give up. Papi is not mad at you. I believe in you and I know you can do it.”

As soon as I said those words I knew right away that the Lord helped me redeem the moment. The tone in my voice and confidence in my eyes helped serged a sense of hope and courage in my son that gave him the ability to see that he wasn’t a loser because he failed, instead he was successful because he tried and his father believed in him.
After giving my son a hug and reminding him that I loved him and was not upset with him I gave him another egg and walked him through the whole egg cracking process again.

In the end, I helped my son crack and cook three eggs and the whole process took less than 10 minutes. The sobering part of it all is that in 10 minutes I was able to teach my son the importance of resilience, reconciliation, self-control and a host of other virtues and because of my superficial desire to not make a mess I almost missed the sweet blessing of teaching my son what a godly man looks like in the face of adversity.

On that day the Lord used me to take a messy moment and turn it into a teachable moment. He enabled me to create confidence and resilience in my son rather than feed condemnation and self-doubt. The sobering thing about the whole event is that I know that there are countless other times where I didn’t respond like I did on this occasion.

Fathers, may we never forget that every moment is an opportunity for discipleship in our home. Pray the Lord gives us eyes to see and capture those moments when they come our way.

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