For better or worse, since childhood I’ve been a bit of a clever clogs*. Thanks Peppa the Pig for introducing me to this idiom. In other words, I’m a “know it all”. As a young adult I would tell my mom how to parent my younger sister, because you know… I was so smart and all, with all my 20 years of never raising a kid. Somehow my accumulated 40 hours of babysitting made me more of an expert than my mom who had already parented for 20 years. She probably needed some advice from me.
Part of this drive to know it all comes from my personality, my inborn pride and strong desire for knowledge. I enjoy reading all the “how to’s” and “do that’s” when it comes to anything in which I’m inexperienced. Surely this is partially good– for a wise person asks for advice. But let me suggest that a wise person also knows what they don’t know and apologizes when they screw it up. (A wise person also knows when to keep their mouth shut in the first place.)
As a parent of four small children, there are many moments and even days when I’m just not very wise. I don’t keep my mouth shut. I think I know it all and I imagine I’m always right (sorry husband). My eldest tells me I’m always bossing her around and she can’t wait to be a mom so she can be the boss. I try and explain to her that mothering isn’t quite the dream job of getting your way all the time as she imagines.
As most of you know, mothering looks a lot more like serving. Countless, unpaid hours of servitude with often a dash or two of ingratitude from your recipients. When I graduated from a Christian liberal arts school, I received a servant’s towel along my diploma, because the true leadership Jesus embodied was servant leadership. Mothering has certainly proved this to be the case. Dishes, diapers, feeding, driving, repeat. You might also have seemingly meaningless tasks that define your day; papers filed, miles driven, emails answered, bosses appeased, photocopies made, customers attended, coffee made, the list goes on. It’s those little moments, the daily grind, that defines who we are and the person we’re becoming.
Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me,” this is an act of submission and it includes the boring, the overlooked, the non-blog worthy life. It may not get applause and it may never get noticed, but it matters. Because only in the ‘now’ and in the ‘present’ is where we receive and give grace to others.
However, there are moments and days, when I prefer the TOP down leadership approach. The “because I said so”, and “do it NOW” approach. The use of fear, the lack of patience, the ‘poor is me’ attitude, the world is out to make my life hard. When my dictatorship becomes apparent to myself and others I find that the best response is GRACE. Grace for myself, grace for the others, and above all forgiveness. “I’m sorry. I was too loud. I was too rough. I was frustrated. Will you forgive me?”
So power to you my friend as you mother, or parent, as you lead, as you lean into your everyday influence; serve wherever you are. May you be a humble learner. May you be a grateful giver. A friend to the powerless. An empowerer of the weak. When you serve, you are really leading. When you are lowered, Christ is raised up. It’s this upside down leadership that demonstrates the King’s way. The King who was never a clever clogs, but came as a baby to learn, to fully experience the life of a human, to show us a better way. The way of humility, grace, and lasting influence.
*A light-hearted or humorous way to refer to an intelligent or clever person https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/a+clever+clogs Webster Miriam defines clever clogs as a person who is clever in a way that is annoying. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clever%20clogs
Gabriele Replogle is a native Illinoisian mother of four children, six and under and often found irritable at the dinner hour. She is a wife to a free spirited, bike-riding, bearded man. She can be found most days in pajamas and a bathrobe at home changing diapers and changing the world…but mostly: changing diapers.