How many times a day do I hear my 5 year old son say this? “I’m just trying to be helpful.” I cringe at this phrase. What did he destroy now? Helpful means using his sister’s new shirt to mop the floor after a spaghetti dinner. Helpful means making his siblings breakfast- usually something messy and involving twice as many bowls than should have been necessary. Helpful means cleaning the toilet without supervision or guidance. Helpful means taking off the baby’s diaper to “change” him, but not knowing how to fasten the new one- causing the baby to leave a trail of poop and pee through the living room. How often do I find myself angry over the “helpful” project of a 5 year old boy?

I’ve tried to tell my son that the most helpful thing he can do is follow my directions. If he has a good idea, he should always run it by me first, to make sure it is in line with our family rules, his abilities, and my overall plan for the situation. He generally agrees to this arrangement, but ten minutes later I find him doing something else that was unauthorized. “I’m just trying to be helpful.”

I guess I can’t expect my 5 year old to remember something that most adults fail at as well. How many people make decisions, form opinions, execute plans that they think are “right,” without consulting God? Sometimes even the most logical plans are out of God’s will. Someone who throws themselves into the mission field on an emotional whim may offer the same rationalization my son does, “I’m just trying to be helpful…” Unless we have consulted our heavenly Father about our decisions, chances are we are making the same mistakes. Actions that seem to be helpful can turn into a disaster that only a parent can clean up. A parent that says, “Why didn’t you ask me before doing this? Why didn’t you find out my plan? The most helpful thing you can do is follow my directions.”

I’m glad that God gives me this reminder (about 10 times a day) that we all need to look to a wiser authority. For the very small child, that authority may be a parent. For the parent, that authority is unquestionably God.

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.- Ecclesiastes 12:13