Selfishness (1 of 3) | Devotions with Dad

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Selfishness (1 of 3)

For dad only:

Home Sucked Dry

Water tables are dropping around the country because so many people keep drilling and tapping into the underground water supply.

Case in point: Fowler, Kansas. A resident describes how the area earned the name of Artesian Valley: “There were hundreds of natural springs in this valley. If you drilled a well for your house, the natural water pressure was enough to go through your hot-water system and out the shower head.”

Things have changed now. A dry creek bed marks the area where water used to flow. In this agricultural area, You can easily spot the cause of the drained water source from an airplane. Huge sprinkler systems water acres of crops, sucking the aquifer lower and lower. Why would any farmer want to cut back his own use of the water? That would just leave more for someone else to take.

A quarter turn of the globe reveals an entirely different populace in Spain. For longer than five centuries, farmers have depended on irrigated water from the Turia River. Here, over fifteen thousand agriculturalists irrigate their crops, taking care not to waste their most precious resource. (Facts taken from an article by Ridley and Low in The Atlantic Monthly, Sept. ’93).

Selfish children suck the family dry. They drain Mom of her patience and Dad of his money. Selfish families leave black holes wherever they go. Peace, joy, and happiness elude such a clan. Usually, this character defect of selfism is caught from or reinforced by the parents.

Realize, however, that everyone is born selfish. If there is an original sin, it is selfishness. Not every kid is born mean. Not every child throws temper tantrums. Not every kid is a crybaby. But every baby is selfish. “I want food. I want a clean diaper. I want to sleep. I want mommy. I want out of this car seat.” But this selfish sense of survival can morph into something much worse if not channeled properly.

My infant daughter doesn’t know she is selfish. All she knows is herself. In our home, she is the drama queen and the rest of the family only carries a supporting role. However, if she is still that way at age thirty, then I have failed as a father. Somewhere between three months and three years, Dad, we have to help hone our children’s survival instinct away from self-only thinking. We must help the child see that when everyone wins, she wins.

You can conserve your home’s morale resources. Telling a kid that he doesn’t matter is not the way to cure selfishness. For a strong-willed child, it will only aggravate the situation. Teaching a kid to serve others first is the beginning of the cure.

Demanding, bossy kids drain their parents of all joy and peace. How well does the water flow in your home? Defeat the crime of selfishness in your home and watch morale improve. Hey, defeat selfishness and Wall Street may recover, too.


Dad, read this story with your kids:

My Way

“Can I make a birthday cake for mom?” Rusty asked.

Dad raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure you know how?

“I know how to follow a recipe.”

“Okay, but don’t ask me for help. I would mess it up.”

“All right,” Rusty said.

Misty walked in. “How long is Mom going to be out with Grandma having dinner?”

“She should be home before eight o’clock,” Dad said, turning his wrist to see his watch. “Rusty is going to make her a cake.”

“Oh, that sounds fun. I want to help.”

“Okay, go ask him what you can do. But remember, you guys need to work together for it come out right.”

“Great!” she said as she hopped off to the kitchen.

Rusty already had a big mixing bowl out on the table when Misty walked in.

“What can I help with?” she asked.

Rusty shrugged as he measured the flour.


“I guess I’ll need help cleaning up.”

She put her hands on her hips and scowled at him. “That’s not what I mean.”

He dumped the rest of the flour into the bowl.

“How about you do the dry stuff,” she said, “and I do the gooey stuff.”

“This is my project,” Rusty replied.


“You can make the icing.”

“I don’t know how. And I can’t read the recipes as well as you can.”

Rusty sighed. “Okay, you finish the dry stuff, I’ll do the gooey stuff.”

“But you’re almost done with the dry stuff.”

“This project was my idea.”

Misty huffed. “Okay, what do I need?”


She pulled the big plastic canister out of one of the kitchen cabinets. “How much?”

“One cup.”

“Okie-dokie.” She scooped it out.

Rusty had collected the liquid ingredients. He got the can of baking powder out of the cupboard. He measured the powder in a spoon and said, “Here, let me add this.”

“Hey!” she snapped, grabbing the spoon and spilling most of the powder onto the table. “That was my job.”

“Look at the mess you made!”

Dad walked into the room. “I thought you guys were trying to do something nice for your mom. It sounds like you need to work on being nice to each other.”

“She spilled the powder.”

“He was trying to do my job.”

“And it won’t be worth giving something special to your mom if you are both selfish toward each other. If you can do something kind for her, you can be kind to each other.”

“Yes, sir.”

Dad left the room.

“What’s next?” Misty asked.

“Baking soda.”

The two worked in silence for a while. Except for another tussle over the measuring spoons, things went okay.

Dad turned on the oven and watched to make sure nobody got hurt. Rusty ran the beaters until the batter was dark and creamy. He poured it into the cake pan, which Misty had smeared with butter. Rusty carefully slid the cake mixture into the oven.

At Dad’s suggestion, they cleaned up the kitchen as an additional surprise for Mom. When the oven timer went off, Dad took the cake out, setting it on the table to cool.

Rusty and Misty looked at it. “Why is it so flat?” she asked.

“Isn’t it supposed to be bigger?” Dad asked.

Rusty shrugged. “Something went wrong.”

“Yep, and not just in the ingredients,” Dad said. “The biggest thing that went wrong here was your attitudes. An attitude of ‘I want to do it my way’ ends up making a mess. Instead of a nice chocolate cake here, I think we have a big brown brick.”

“What are we going to do?” Misty said with tears forming in her eyes. “We wanted to give Mommy a cake.”

Dad glanced at his watch again. “Maybe you two can work together on buying her one.”

“Okay!” Rusty said. He ran to get his money while Misty hurried to find some of her own.

Soon they were at the grocery store, looking through the glass display of bakery items. “I like the cake with the dolphin jumping out of it,” Rusty said.

“I think she would like the one with the rose on it,” Misty said.

“But this one has the whipped cream frosting that she likes. And…”

Dad cleared his throat.

Misty suggested, “Can we get them to make a rose one with whipped cream frosting?”

The lady behind the counter heard her question. “We can do that. What kind of cake do you want?”

“Chocolate, please,” Misty said.

“Will it take very long?” Rusty wanted to know.

“About ten minutes. We are slow tonight.”

“That will be fine, ma’am,” Dad said.

“Okay, let’s count out our money,” Rusty suggested.

“While we wait for the cake, why don’t we go pick out some ice cream to go with it?” Dad suggested.


Was Rusty being selfish to make a cake for his mom?

No. This was very thoughtful.

When the cake didn’t rise because they left out the baking powder, who’s fault was it?

Both of theirs. They shouldn’t have been selfish about who did what.

How could things have gone better in the kitchen?

How had Rusty and Misty both disobeyed Philippians 2:3?

Do you find it easy to obey this verse or not?

When have you done it wrong?

When have you done it right?

Do you think they had both learned their lesson by the time they got to the store?

Let your children learn some kitchen cooperation with
The Everything Kids’ Cookbook: From mac n cheese to double chocolate chip cookies – 90 recipes to have some finger-lickin fun
or try
Kitchen for Kids: 100 Amazing Recipes Your Children Can Really Make

Read the following scripture with the family:

Don’t Exalt Yourself

Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them,

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.”

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.

And He said to her, “What do you wish?”

She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”

But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

They said to Him, “We are able.”

So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”

And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers.

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”

Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”

So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”

So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.

Matthew 20:17-34 from New King James Version, © 1983 Thomas Nelson. Used with permission.


Why did the two men ask for power?

Why do people like to be in charge of things?

Do you like to tell other people what to do?

Do you try to take control of things that aren’t your worry?

How are Christians to be different when dealing with people than others are?

How did Jesus exemplify this with the blind men?

He served their needs when He could have been enjoying the attention of the crowds.

Role play: You are sitting down to eat and a friend calls needing you to help answer a question. What do you do?

You had a fun event planned and someone calls asking for help with a broken down car, homework, etc. What should you do?


Memory Verse

Philippians 2:3

Let nothing be done through strife

or vainglory;

but in lowliness of mind

let each esteem other

better than themselves.

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