Jakob’s a sweet kid. You probably already knew that. If you don’t know that, or if you disagree with that, I assume we are not friends. He is constantly trying to help Sarah, whether she wants it or not. He will put dirty dishes in the sink, take dirty and clean silverware from the dishwasher and put it in the silverware drawer, and he’ll even hold the door for her sometimes. He’s learned all of this behavior from watching us. He knows it’s helping, and he knows it’s what we do, so he mimics it.
Being a pastor’s kid or a church staff’s kid can be hard. They’re at the church a lot more than most people, and they didn’t really sign up for that. It’s just part of their life. Jakob is here a lot, and he’s always being told to follow me, come to my office, stay right there, stop this, stop that, now go to class and act like everything’s cool. It’s not easy for a two-year old. One of my greatest fears is that from overexposure and unhealthy management, Jakob could end up hating the church. I want to protect him from that. I want him to love church. I want him to serve in the church.
Last week, he was at the church with me while Sarah went to get her hair done. I was leading a small group that night, but I didn’t need to get ready right away. So we played in and around the church. Wherever he wanted to go, we went there. However he wanted to play, short of breaking stuff, we did that. Then we had to transition from play time to my needing to work. You never know how that will go. He may throw a fit, because he wants to keep playing. Jakob has before, but he didn’t that time.
We went into the youth and children’s room, and I started setting up tables. Jakob followed me. As I rolled a table across the room, Jakob walked up next to me and put his hands on the table. I told him to be careful and asked him what he was doing. He looked up at me and said, “Help, Dada.” I smiled at him and thanked him. After we got done setting up tables, which took longer, because I was being careful about not hurting Jakob, I walked to the kitchen. Jakob followed. I started getting food out of the oven, and Jakob said, “More help, Dada.” I handed him a plastic bag and asked him to take it to the table and come back. He did. When he came back, he said, “More help, Dada.” So I gave him a stack of plates, grabbed all the pizza and followed him.
We got all of the food and drinks set out together. We were done. Now, when he and I play games at home or watch something he likes or eat a good snack, when we’re done, he’ll say, “One more of that.” He only does that for things he likes. He doesn’t say it after we punish him. We’re used to it. We expect it. And we usually will allow it, within reason. After everything was all done, he looked up at me with all sincerity and said, “One more help, Dada.” He had just spent 30 minutes following me around, offering and giving me help. He wasn’t tired of it. He wanted to help me one more time. I had nothing left for him to do, so I told him he could hug me instead. He came over, and I gave him a tight hug. I told him I loved him, and I thanked him for helping Jesus, not Daddy. It was late by the time we left, but I wanted to honor what he had done, so I bought him popcorn (his favorite snack), even though it was well after his bed time. I gave it to him and thanked him again for helping me help Jesus.
My two-year old son volunteered to help at church for the first time last week. I cried tears of joy. He does love church right now, and he wants to help. He’s already becoming who I want him to be.