Self-Centered Service

work-glovesI told the congregation on Sunday that I would be going to South Carolina for a few days this week on a “Fifth Commandment Mission Trip.”  I could see the blank looks on some faces and so I reminded them that the fifth commandment is the one that says, “You shall honor your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land” (Exodus 20:12).  A Fifth Commandment Mission Trip is one in which you honor your father and mother by driving to their home in South Carolina with your toolbox and work gloves and doing whatever needs to be done around their house. 

I don’t know yet what needs to be done.  I don’t know if I will be able to do it.  But I hope that my very presence with my aging, ailing parents will honor them.  I will probably offer to cut the grass and trim up around the place if that hasn’t been done.  I’m sure there will be some small repairs I can make and some painting I can do.  I’ll probably make a trip to the grocery store, bring back something really yummy, and offer to cook it.  I’ll get Mom to play the piano and we’ll sing a few old hymns.  I’ll sit by Dad’s bedside and tell him about my work.  At night I will lie down on clean sheets in the guest room, exhausted and grateful for this time with my parents.

Before you click on the “comment” link to say, “Oh, Jim!  What a sweet thing to do!” remember that this is a Fifth Commandment mission trip: it’s completely self-centered.  I’m honoring my father and mother so that my days may be long in the land, so that when I’m 108 my children will have to pack up their toolboxes and work gloves…

…and come see me.

7 thoughts on “Self-Centered Service

  1. Oh, I know that feeling of doing the right thing to honor my parents, hoping that my actions will be “caught” and not “taught” by my own children; but then, there are no guarantees that my children will follow my example, nor, perish the thought, be around when I reach the age that I need them more than they need me. Therefore, I am always brought back again and again to the importance of the community of faith, the church family, and the loving and comforting arms of Christ, offered up on my behalf through the faces of “substitute children” who will help me feel lovingly safe and secure.
    PS I still think it is a sweet thing to do, and your parents are lucky indeed!

  2. Jim,
    When the sphere of self-centered is love it is all Ok …..
    Have a nice and blessing time with your parents!

  3. A wise friend once told me that “Honor thy Father and Mother” was not written, as we often use it, for children, but for adults. (The passage in Ephesians,”Children obey your parents in the Lord . . .” is for children.) But for an adult, the command is to “honor.”
    When my grandparents were alive, my parents provided a home for them and made sure they had everything they needed right up to the day they died. When my mother says she wishes we didn’t have to do so much for her, I remind her of her service to her own mother, who died at age 92 (or maybe 91, depending on which Bible registry we believed!). I learned everything I needed to know about honoring my father and mother from watching how they honored their parents.

  4. Jim, I will soon be doing much the same thing – helping my parents pack up their big house in NH for a move down here to a two-bedroom apt near Philadelphia. When you are back from your mission trip, I will GLADLY take any and all advice you can give me. Be well, M.

  5. I they don’t I’ll be there to cut, clean and other thing you need around the house. I hope ever thing is well.

    P.S. Live long and prosper

    Will Short

  6. We were very blessed to have my dad live with us for 7 years while he visited Mother in the nursing home a bit each week — she never lost knowledge of him, although he was the only one that she consistently knew for about 11 years — it took all the “clinical distance” I could maintain to get through my several times weekly seeing about her. I was always so grateful she didn’t understand what had happened to her — from my perspective Alzheimers is one of the cruelest diseases for those of us who love the person affected; they’re OK without their sense of time & place, but for those who love them & remember what was, it’s still hard — after 30 years! The bonus was that my girls got to know their grandfather very well, and heard all about his early life; he was their male role model after their dad died when they were 11 & 14. God was very good in the way he arranged that!
    I’m glad you have the chance to be with your parents for a few days, & I’m sure it means the world to them to see you and hear about your loved ones. Blessings.
    Betty Ann

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