Over the next few days I want to take a look at some popular (even cliché) pieces of advice parents give their children, and point out how parents could benefit if we followed our own advice. I’ll start the series today with a piece of advice I frequently give my daughter when she complains about her classmates: “You just worry about yourself, and let your teacher worry about the other kids.”
When I tell my daughter this, what I’m really saying is: “You are not responsible for anyone else’s behavior or outcomes, just your own. Don’t diminish your life with worry over other people’s behavior.”
Now you may be thinking, “Well, my child’s teacher can take responsibility in those kinds of situations, but now that I am an adult I’ve got to take responsibility.” I hear you, but remember: There is Someone who is responsible for this world, and you are not Him.
Can you imagine what life would be like if parents followed this simple piece of advice? I’ll bet many pastors reading this blog are nodding along: No more gossip in the church, and no more late-night phone calls from one parishioner complaining about the behavior of another! How would your workplace change if the parents in your office followed this advice? No more complaining at the water-cooler about your boss and coworkers; people would just show up for work and…work!
How might your whole life change if you followed this advice? Here’s how I think my life could change:
- I could let go of resentments toward other people
- I would be more fun to be around because I wouldn’t be complaining about other people
- The quality of my conversations would improve because I’d be talking about things I like, not people I don’t
- My anxiety would decrease dramatically
- My imagination would be full of hope rather than fear
- My blog posts would be less angry and more redemptive
- I would be more productive in every area of my life
- I could be my authentic self because I wouldn’t worry about what other people thought of me
The next time you catch yourself complaining or worrying about other people and circumstances, try giving yourself this simple piece of advice: “I need to worry about myself, and let God worry about everyone else.”