After a month's absence from our church, we returned yesterday. Travel, illness, and, to be honest, highs of -17 had prevented us from joining corporate worship. Because consistency is so important, I feared we were in for a rough half-hour with the girls. So during one of the early prayers, I found myself praying "Lord, please help them behave."
And then I paused a moment. And realized what I had just prayed. And what it said about my priorities.
And in that brief moment, I had a change of heart. My perspective changed. And I took back that prayer. And I replaced it with this one.
"Lord, plant seeds. Let something we say and sing here sink in. Let them understand something of the love of God, of Your power, of Your mercy and grace."
They are more likely to absorb something if they aren't screaming, or aren't being carried out every 5 minutes because they're being disruptive. But, that's not the point. I don't bring them into church to teach them to behave. I bring them in so they learn to worship. I bring them in so they learn about God in a different way than they would gluing cotton balls on construction paper sheep. And cotton ball sheep have their place, and once my preschool workbook arrives we're going to start making some of those cotton ball sheep ourselves.
Maybe, sometimes, I bring them in so I remember that my goal as a parent is more than just teaching them to behave.