Best of Intentions

“‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.” Matthew 21:28b-29

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When my oldest son, Zack, hit his teen years, he developed a strategy to save his sanity and mine. Rather than bickering with me when he doesn’t agree, he simply says, “Okay.” It immediately diffuses any escalating aggravation on both our parts.

I thought I was the luckiest mom in the world, having a teenager who never argued. It took me a while to figure out the real deal.

Over time, I began to notice that Zack’s behavior after the “okay” varies based on the issue. When he really does respect and agree with me, his actions align with what I’m asking him to do. When he doesn’t, his actions are the exact opposite.

Ultimately, I learned that “okay” doesn’t really mean okay. It means: “Let me tell her whatever she wants to hear so she’ll quit nagging me!”

On the one hand, in the heat of the moment, the “okay” method works for me because it calms me down, instead of getting me riled. On the other hand, I now know I can’t trust that response.

In the parable in Matthew 21, a man has two sons that he tells to go work in his vineyard. The first says, “no,” but changes his mind and does what his father asked. The second says, “yes,” but never follows through.

The question Jesus asks is: “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” (v.31a). Clearly, it’s the first. Despite our initial response and intention, it’s our actions that reveal who we are.

When we feel God prompting us to do something, what is our first response? Do our actions support or discredit our response?

The more I think about my own answers to these questions, the more I realize Zack may have learned his behavior from me. I do try to respond positively to God’s prompts, but my actions often tell a different story.

It’s times like these I realize why God made me a mother. It’s seeing my own flaws play out in my kids that inspires me to try and fix my shortcomings. There’s also that additional motivation that if I can’t do it for myself, I should at least do it to be a better example for my kids.

Questions for Reflection:

  • Do my kids say one thing, yet do another?
  • Do I say one thing, yet do another?

I think God made me a mother so I can see my own flaws in my kids to inspire me to fix my shortcomings.


4 thoughts on “Best of Intentions

  1. As with your “Biggest Fan” above, Claire, so with me!!! For sure, I too see a little of me in Zach’s response and realize I have work to do in this area for the rest of my days!!! But as long as I’m aware of this weakness and make efforts to correct it, I see in my spirit God’s Loving smile of understanding!!! Extended to Zach !!!


    • I love the image of God’s loving smile of understanding, Jackie! That inspires me so much more than to think of Him disappointed. It’s a great reminder to me that I also need that loving smile of understanding with my own children, hopefully inspiring them to try better each and every day.


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