Attitude adjustments

Days come in parenting when every decision and request is met with whining, complaining and defiance. Instead of responding with gentleness and a godly spirit, I often meet my children head-to-head with an equally bad attitude.

That’s why this passage in Philippians encouraged me so much this week.

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even to death on a cross.

For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

– Philippians 2:5-11

I am called to make my attitude like that of Jesus. I cannot make anyone else’s attitude change, only my own. God has called me, as his child and as a mom to the children He has entrusted to me.

So how do I do it? How do I adjust my attitude and become who Christ Jesus intends?

1. Recognize God’s authority and position (v. 6).
Jesus, being equal to God the Father, didn’t take advantage of His standing. Even more so, as His daughter I should not seek preference or expect to get what I want. God is in charge. He is the ultimate authority of my life, whom I owe my very life, and God deserves my respect in every way. He is my God, not the other way around.

2. Empty myself of every form of selfishness and embrace God’s plan (v. 7).
Jesus left heaven and gave up His rightful standing as King of Kings to become a slave of the flesh and walk with us on Earth. He left His home to secure mine. He willingly emptied Himself for my sake. In response, God calls me to separate myself from the selfishness that too often rules my life. He wants to fill my life with purpose and meaning, but I must first empty myself of what I think is good so that God can give me His very best. God’s plan is worth giving all of me.

3. Obey God no matter the cost (v. 8).
Obedience proves devotion. Jesus laid down His life in obedience to His Father. He carried that cross to Golgotha, not because of the soldiers who were cruelly forcing him forward, but because He chose to humble Himself and follow God’s redemptive plan. He was obedient to death. I need to get over myself and do what God says. Christ deserves my everything, and I need to live in the reality and power of His sacrificial obedience.

4. Worship the Exalted Savior (v. 9-10)!
God has given Jesus the name above all names! At the name of Jesus every knee will bow. All people of the Earth will one day recognize the Lordship of Christ. Praises will ring from every nation, tribe and tongue in worship of our Savior! I want to start now! I was made to worship Jesus, and doing so will transform my attitude.

5. Share the message that Jesus Christ is Lord (v. 11).
Just as every knee will bow, every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord and bring glory to God in doing so. When I share God’s love and sacrifice, pointing people to a relationship with Jesus, I honor and glorify God. Telling others about Jesus reminds me of when He rescued me. It puts my life in perspective.

I know I have work to do in each of these areas! Often, my struggles come in #2 as I lay down my wants, and do what God wants. It’s easy to be selfish, but God calls me to live selflessly.

Where do you need an attitude adjustment?

Showcase Showdown

Every parent has them. Every parent dreads them. Today it was my turn for the “Battle of the Wills.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t walk away with a new car or a cruise vacation to some exotic spot. It wasn’t the prettiest win (if that’s what it was), but lessons were learned (on both sides) and my little boy still wants to kiss me before naptime.

It all started this morning at breakfast. We had a slew of new cereals from a successful grocery trip the previous day, and so I gave Jackson the option of which one he would like to have for breakfast. He chose Lucky Charms, I think partly because Kung Fu Panda was featured on the box. This is one of his current obsessions…just ask the roomful of kids and parents at story time today where before the librarian read the first story Jackson insisted on acting out a scene from the movie.

Now, I’ve been down this path before. Jackson will eat all the marshmallows and leave the cereal. We had a chat about this before he made his final decision, and he understood that in order to have the privilege of eating Lucky Charms, he had to eat ALL of it. He pledged that he would, and he was served.

We’ve recently had several mini-showdowns over meals, and we reached the climax today because it wasn’t about whether or not he liked the food. It was about whether or not he would obey.

Of course, the marshmallows were promptly eaten and the rest of the cereal sat in the bowl.

You’d think that eating sweetened cereal wouldn’t cause the end of the world as we know it, but the tantrum thrown could have caused doubts. After talking about his decision to eat this cereal, and that he must finish it, he sat without touching his bowl for the next one-and-a-half hours.

Eventually, story time hit, and I didn’t want my other child to miss out because of Jackson’s stubbornness, so the bowl was temporarily left, with the understanding that until the cereal was eaten, there would be no snacks or meals. So, when snacks were offered at the library, Jackson was not allowed the treat.

Things heated up again when we returned home and I started making lunch. When Matt came home, Jackson watched as we all ate and he sat with his cereal. He even dumped a whole cup of milk into the dry cereal because he thought he would be able to get away with not eating it because it quickly became soggy! Matt calmly went over, poured a new bowl and proceeded to pick out all the marshmallows. That sent Jackson over the edge, especially with all those marshmallows sitting just out of reach.

Then came the compromise I’m sure not everyone would agree with, but it’s what happened. Jackson ate the cereal, on the promise he could have the marshmallows. Each handful eaten equaled one marshmallow. However, he wouldn’t eat them unless I was sitting with him.

Four-and-a-half hours later, Jackson finished his breakfast.

As he and I were playing Hi-Ho Cherry-O later, I couldn’t help thinking how ridiculous the whole showdown was. And, God spoke to my heart, “Tell me about it!” You see, I so often hold out on God over the most spectacularly silly things (do you, too?). Many times they are good things He wants me to experience, but I only want the marshmallows and not the whole package. So, God makes me wait, and wait, and wait, until I am willing to accept everything He has for me, not just what I want.

I’m thankful that God is a better parent than I am! I am also grateful that His mercy has no end, especially when we all choose to dig in our heels about such unimportant things. He desires yielded, moldable hearts, and will arrange events and circumstances to produce that in us.

So, my lesson learned for today?

Don’t serve Lucky Charms to four-year-olds.