Help versus serve: Lessons from potty training

Help versus serve: Lessons from potty training

Written on 08/31/2020
Kristy Loewen

Written by Kristy Loewen

Being a parent of toddlers is no easy task. I’ll be honest, sometimes I wish I had believed someone when they told me how hard it would be. It seems like from the second they come into this world they are sucking the life out of you, literally. I had a very rough start to parenthood with a hard pregnancy, harder labour, and even harder recovery.

As much as I thought parenting would just come naturally to me, it did not. I still struggle with getting down on my kids’ level. I love to do things with them, but I don’t love to play, even though I know they’d be thrilled if I just sat on the floor. Still, just as with any person, meeting my kids on their level is important. It helps them to feel understood.

I will never forget a specific incident where God drove this point home for me. He and I have always had an interesting relationship. I am a signs person and He always comes through. This moment came while I was potty training my first-born. He was barely two, but he was ready.

He was so good at going “number one.” No problems. “Number two” was where we struggled. I could never get to his room before it ended up on the floor—every morning. We tried putting his potty in his room and covering the floor in towels. He’d take off the diaper, do his business, and then put the towel over it.

I tried everything, but this continued for a whole month. Then finally, as I was cleaning up after him one morning, God spoke to me. Here is a paraphrase:

“You think you’re that much better than him? How many times have you done the same wrong thing, even though you know better? No matter a person’s situation in life, you are never to come from above and look down on them. That just makes them feel even worse.

We are called to come alongside people in their worst times. This is the difference between helping and serving.

Helping comes from a place of superiority. Serving means you come alongside and working through issues with them.”

No joke. The words were as plain as day in my head. The potty-training issues ceased immediately. He has never regressed either.

More than anything, I now try to serve my kids on their level. I listen to their concerns, and together we try to figure out the best way forward.

The difference between helping and serving is the position of your heart. Jesus came to serve. We are to be like Jesus, serving from a place of grace and humility.