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You’re Not The Boss Of Me

July 23, 2019

If you’re a parent or a teacher, you’ve heard that phrase.  Maybe from your spouse.

Sorry to be autobiographical, but this move Debbie and I are making has me seeing things about myself, and one of them has to do with this endearing phrase.  I’m smart enough not to say it out loud, but it pops into my head.

In our moving adventure, Debbie’s the foreman.  She’s been organizing and sorting and packing boxes, and telling me what needs to be done next.  This is a good thing.  She’s very good at organizing and administrating.  She’s a planner and a list-maker.  She gets things done.  Great qualities for the moving foreman.

She’s also a morning person.  I’m not.  This matters to the moving thing because she starts her work almost right out of bed in the morning.  It takes me a Quiet Time and two cups of coffee before I’m ready to face the day.  So while I’m trying to get a discernible pulse, she’s up and going after it.  Most days so far, before my brain has sifted through the mental fog and is making neural connections, she’s got decisions for me to make and things she’d like me to do.

That’s when I have to fight the phrase.  As much as I agree with what she’s doing, and as grateful as I am for the fact that she’s taking charge of these things that I hate doing, there’s still this part of me that just doesn’t like being told what to do.  The four year-old Stevie steps up and tries to take the microphone so he can shout, “You’re not the boss of me!” into it.

It’s not like Debbie’s commanding, “Lift that bale, tote that barge!”  She’s not.  She’s asking me if I would mind doing what’s next on her list when I’ve got time to do it.  And the things on her list need to be done, so it’s not like she’s inventing work.  All her requests are reasonable.  And they’re requests, not demands.  

I realize this emotional dissonance is a maturity issue.  Mature people know both how to give orders and how to take them.  Mature people know how to be in charge and how to respond positively to the one who’s put in charge.  Mature people don’t complain.  They apply themselves appropriately and contribute to the goals and objectives.  Immature people complain and gripe and resist directives.  Immature people put off doing things they don’t really like doing until the last possible minute, and then they often do them poorly.

Can you guess which (maturity or immaturity) is showing up most in my head these days?

As an “older adult,” you’d think I would be able to push the immature voice away and step up to the pressing task with intention and energy because of my maturity.  Right.  I’m afraid I’ll be the guy that will be resisting someone else’s directive all the way to the morgue.  I’m still very much on a journey toward maturity.  In a slow boat.  Against the current.  With a bent paddle.  Being given requests from my beautiful moving foreman has reminded me of my struggle toward adulting maturely.

We’ll survive this move, and what’s on the other side of it will be good and productive.  Who knows?  It may be the most productive chapter of life for us so far.  I’m trusting God for this.  The moving part is no fun, but I’m trusting God for the maturity to do it well.  Or as well as I can.

Funny thing about trust.  For me anyway.  I don’t just put my trust in God for whatever, and then do what’s next.  It’s not an event.  Not a one-time event, anyway.  I have to keep putting it and putting it and putting it.  Like how you have to put a puppy, and put it, and put it before it will actually stay.  And sometimes if you could put it back an infinite number of times, it would still try and get away to whatever it was trying to get to.  That’s basically how my trust is.  Can I get an amen?

I’m trusting God to give me what I need to be able to do what my kind moving foreman asks me to do with a cheerful heart and good energy.  I’m trusting God to walk with me and guide me through this life-chapter of transition with integrity and good will.  But I’m re-putting and re-putting and re-putting my trust in Him for this many times every day.

On one level, this is just the human condition.  We’re broken.  Sin does that.  It breaks stuff.  So because of my brokenness, I’m instruction-resistant.  I have to reset my trust hundreds of times because my default is still doing what makes me happy (which is most of the time what’s easy), not so much what should be done next.  Trust isn’t easy for me.

But my brokenness isn’t an excuse for my immaturity and my ever-present resistance, that loud little voice in my head shouting, “You’re not the boss of me!”  It’s one part of a complex explanation for it, but it’s not an excuse.  Having maturity issues is understandable and human.  But clinging to them is, well, #jps (Just Plane Stupid).

If not for two things, I would be hopeless in this struggle.  Thing number one: God doesn’t resent me for being slow to grow up and respond out of maturity.  He gets it.  He knows I’m but dust.  And thing number two: because of His grace and love, instead of just punishing me for my immaturity and leaving me in time out, he disciplines me (often firmly, but always lovingly) toward maturity.  He teaches me.  His goal is to grow me up.  The theological term for this is sanctification.  I’m coming to learn more and more that one of the things this means is that He hasn’t given up on me.  Even when I shake my fist at Him and scream, “You’re not the boss of me!”

There’s only a few dozen applications of this in your marriage and family.  Look in the mirror with your heart and let God show you where He wants to grow you toward greater maturity.  Where are you resisting people who you should be cooperating with?  Who are you having the biggest struggle with in this?  And why do you think that is?  If they’re a bad leader, I get that.  But if it’s just because your four year-old self is stomping your metaphorical foot and shouting, “You’re not the boss of me!”, well, you may need to get over it and grow up.

Sorry if you were hoping I’d give you a workable formula for dealing with your pre-schooler and their, “You’re not the boss of me!” behaviors.  The more you deal with your own behaviors and patterns on this, the better you’ll be able to deal with theirs.  Honest.  You may have to trust me on that.  More importantly, you’ll have to trust God for this.  And, believe me, you’ll have to put your trust there and put it there and put it there.  It’s Ok.  He doesn’t resent you for this, and He won’t give up on you.



From → Marriage, Parenting

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