As the years go by and the kids begin to have "more important" things to do than engage Daddy, I've got to get creative with my approaches.
One ploy that works 100% of the time is bribing. Candy is the currency in my family. And you want to get them to do anything, all you have to do is flash a gummy bear or a life saver. When we run out of candy, we usually can get a chore done with a Tums or a cough drop. Our 2 year old, Avila doesn't really know the difference. As easy as bribes are, they feel kind of cheap. I am still operating in a reward/punishment arena. The attention they give me, has nothing to do with me, but only the reward.
I've learned that the most rewarding times for me are when my kids "help" me with some sort of project. They usually end up screwing it up more than helping, but it is still worth that time with them. If you are parent you know what I'm talking about. If you aren't, I'm sure you can remember at some point, "helping" your mom cook dinner or your dad mow the lawn.
I seriously don't have the words to describe the satisfaction that I feel as my kids help me with some menial task. As a boy, I remember helping my dad, and truly believing that he needed my help. Now that I'm the dad, I realize that the only thing that my dad needed from me, was this time together. It means so much! And as I become more and more intimate with my Father in heaven, I realize that this is His mode of relating to me as well.
God can convert the world, save the world, heal the world with one word, in an instant. No process, just done and done, like that. He chooses to invite me into the process because He desires ME more than He desires to USE ME. These times that I "help" God, are the times that we spend together. Don't take this in the wrong way, but for most of us in ministry, these are some of the most intimate times with the Father. To be honest, I don't think that God could've gotten my attention any other way. I'm that kid squirming on His lap. He starts a project, gives me a task, and says, "Ennie, I need you to help me with something?" And I fall for it every time.
Not only, does He choose to need me, but He also risks complete failure when He trusts me with these tasks. He is like a dad giving me, a 3 year old the lawnmower, slapping me on the ass, and saying "go get 'em tiger."
Can you imagine this business model ever working? You are in a job interview...
Interviewer: "Yeah, um, you are the worst possible person to fulfill this job."
You: "So I didn't get the job?"
Interviewer: "No, actually, we are going to make you the Senior VP. We want you to be a part of our company so bad, that we are willing to limit ourselves and our productivity to have you on board."
This is insane, maddening, and I am uncontrollably irritated by this economy. But, this is our God. He does it time and time again in the scriptures and throughout Church history. Just look at this last Sunday's readings. Isaiah, a zealous young man that couldn't keep his mouth shut. Peter, a bad fisherman. Paul, literally killing Christians. Can you think of a worst candidate? These are the people that God chooses to do His work, not because He can't do it Himself, but because He desires the love of His children, time spent with His children, and ultimately, that His children are fulfilled in Him.
I can do nothing apart from Him. Gotta get this through my thick skull.