Children’s Message: Showing Your Work

So it’s my tradition after the prayer of the day to bring a message to all of God’s children. And I have with me a workbook that I make my children work on during the summer.It’s a workbook full of things they might have learned in school over the previous year. I know, I know, having to do schoolwork in the summer sounds awful. But it’s my way of encouraging them to keep their skills sharp so that, in the fall, the school year is easier for them. 

The workbook is full of different sections – including science, social studies, writing, and…math. Math is full of numbers, operations, adding things up, subtracting things away from each other, and more. There’s a lot of different methods or ways of finding an answer to a math problem but one thing I found is that, the more math I did, the easier it got to solve problems in my head. I could do the addition, the subtraction, the division or whatever in my head because I had practiced those kinds of problems over and over again. I remember doing math homework, worksheets, or tests – and simply writing the answer down because I had already done the work in my head. But teachers were never really interested in me getting the answer. What they wanted was to show my work. They wanted to see me take the time and do the steps needed to solve the problem. If I filled out the worksheet and just wrote down an answer – they wouldn’t know how I got the answer. And often showing how you get an answer is more important than getting the answer itself. 

So showing your work – showing how you do something or why you do something – is important. It’s not just enough, sometimes, to have an answer. The people around you want to see how you got that answer as well. When we show others the work we’ve done, we help them see why we do what we do and how we solved the problem. It’s not always easy to show our work because it can reveal our shortcomings; what we got wrong; and maybe how we don’t always know what we’re talking about. But showing our work is how we built trust with others – and also is how we show our faith. We call others we’re a christian or we’re baptized or we’re beloved by God. All those things are true. Yet people around us would also want to show how we’re a Christian – and how following Jesus changes what we do right now. We can tell people we’re a Christian but we can’t show them without doing Christian work. And that work is, as we’ll hear in our story about Jesus today, about showing mercy; about caring for others; about sharing love even when it’s hard. It’s about being kind, patient, and willing to make sacrifices for others. It’s about doing the work of love instead of telling folks we love them. And that’s what God invites us to do; to show the work of what following Jesus is all about.

Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, 7/10/2022.