Archive for October 14th, 2010


the goal of relationships

Sitting at a wedding in downtown Little Rock recently, with the Metropolitan Bank tower a few blocks to my left and I-30 a few blocks to my right, I watched as a father walked his daughter down the aisle and answered the normal question with a cursory, “Her mother and I do.”

It’s a scene I view differently now because of Madeline and Anna.  You can’t be a father at a wedding and not look forward to think about the potential wedding of your own daughter.  At this wedding, however, the thought passed my mind, “This is the goal.  He has passed his daughter on to the one who will now protect, provide for, and rub the feet of, her.  He has worked himself out of a job.”

It’s a sobering thought.  The goal of parenting is, to some degree, to work yourself out of a job.  To take a child from a place of complete dependence on you to a place of independence.  From a place where dependence is involuntary to a place where it is voluntary.  To get to the place where the child respects and values you, but will, in all honesty, get along just fine without you.

At work as well, I ought to work myself out of a job.  I’m constantly being reminded at work to find people who can come alongside me so that I can train them and release them to do the job with more focus and excellence.  Find someone who can do your tasks 60% as well as you can and let them do it, a wise man once said.

Even with Ashley, I need (to some degree at least) to work myself out of a job.  If there really is a God who, as Augustine writes, is where our hearts find rest, and is worthy of worship, then attempts to make myself the center of Ashley’s hopes, fulfillment, energy, love, etc., are worthless at best and idolatrous at worst.  John the Baptist–perhaps the best example of a man who joyfully worked himself out of a job–said of Christ, “I must became less, he must become greater.”  It sounds like a good bumper sticker phrase or bookmark, serving as a litmus test for any given relationship.

Whether it’s on that spiritual level or simply on the level of preparing my kids to leave home or love a spouse more than they love their parents, the goal is the same.  Work myself out of a job.

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October 2010