Are You Giving Your All?
by Joy Martin, Set Me Free Ministries Co-founder
One morning this past week I found myself lamenting about a frustrating conversation I'd had that morning with my 10-year-old son, Justice, about homework. For those of you who don't know Justice, he is a bright, funny, creative kid. He loves to talk, will read anything he can get his hands on, is a great storyteller, and can build anything with Legos. For as long as I can remember, Zach and I have jokingly said that Justice is too smart for his own good. Well, we were recently proven right when he underwent IQ testing through his school.
Zach and I sat awestruck as we listened to the school psychologist explain the testing and Justice’s scores. When the principal staed talking about colleges, I about fell out of my chair. After all, Justice is only ten, and college is still many, many years down the road. And yet, we are faced with the reality that Justice is extremely bright—even brighter than we had imagined—and we need to start now to make sure he is on a path that will enable him to reach his full potential. And that is precisely what led to the frustrating conversation this week.
You see, Justice is a fast learner. He picks up on new concepts relatively quickly and easily. On top of that, he tests well, which is reflected on his report cards’ academic categories. So what’s the problem? The problem is that because of this, Justice doesn’t always feel that it’s necessary to do things like, say, his review work during class or his homework. This is also reflected on his report card in the categories that cover study habits and similar areas.
Since kindergarten, Zach and I have gone back and forth with Justice over this subject. And this past week I found myself, once again, having the same conversation with him. I inquire as to why he doesn’t do his work when we all know it would only take him a few minutes to complete it. He explains that he already knows the material, it feels like review instead of work, and he’d rather be reading. I then remind him that if he’d just go ahead and do his work, he’d be able to read without getting in trouble—it’s a win-win situation. And so we go, round and round.
Only this week our conversation took a slightly different turn. I stepped back into my own childhood for a moment and remembered my dad saying to me, “Jellybean, all we want is for you to do your best. If you’re giving 100 percent, Mom and I are happy with that. That’s all we want from all of our children—for you to do your best.” And so, I repeated my father’s words to my son.
“Justice,” I explained, “your dad and I just want you to do your best. We want you to give 100 percent, and we know that’s not what you’re giving right now. If you do your best, you have the potential to do amazing things with your life. God has blessed you with an amazing brain, and we want to see you live up to your full potential. I know that homework feels pointless, but right now, that’s what’s required of you. If you show everyone that you can do what’s being asked of you now—even when you don’t want to do it and even when it seems boring—then maybe they’ll trust you to do different, more exciting things. Just remember that the only thing Dad and I want from you is for you to do your best—whatever that looks like.”
It was a frustrating conversation, as I noted at the beginning of this blog, because I honestly don’t know yet how much of that resonated with him. I can only pray that it begins to sink in. But what struck me more than my frustration with my son, whom I love more than words can express, is that God is likely frustrated with me at times for the same reason. Ouch!
I know I’ve been guilty of not giving 100 percent for God. Have you? I think if we’re honest with ourselves—really, truly, painfully honest—we’ll discover that we’ve all failed to give God our best at times.
Just like I expect my children to do their best at whatever lies before them, God expects me to give my all and do my best to serve Him and follow His will.
In Mark 12:29–30, Jesus essentially commands us to love God with every fiber of our being. “Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment.’”
In Colossians 3:17, Paul notes, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Although on the surface, it may seem simple enough to do those things, I think that’s the very reason it’s actually so very hard. It’s easy to profess to live one way with our lips and to live an entirely different way with our actions. But at the end of the day, whether you are giving God 100 percent is between you and Him.
Speaking for myself, I know that after my aha moment earlier this week, I’ve been convicted on several different levels. And those are areas I’m prayerfully examining now. Just like Justice will never know what could be if he doesn’t give 100 percent where he is now, I will never know what God has in store for me if I don’t give Him everything I have where I am at this moment.
With that said, I’ll leave you with this one last question to ponder: Are you giving 100 percent to God?