Thomas Edison Has Nothing on Parents

Next time you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot in a day, check out Thomas Edison’s to-do list from January 3, 1888. Among his “things doing and to be done” are the following:

  • Cotton picker
  • New standard phonograph
  • Hand turning phonograh
  • Deaf apparatus
  • Electrical piano
  • New expansion pyromagnetic dynamo
  • Artificial silk
  • Phonographic clock
  • Marine telegraphy
  • Chalk battery
  • Ink for blind
What we do each day seems to pale in comparison to this genius. Think about it a little more and you start to feel like you haven’t accomplished anything. Apply it to parenting and you might think that all your efforts to raise your children are useless. Why even try when you’ll never do as well at anything as Thomas Edison did at inventing stuff? 
Here’s why: most of us are not world-changers like Thomas Edison. The vast majority of us will not start the next Facebook or raise our kids to be the president of the United States. Instead, what we need is faithfulness for the long haul. The daily grind — working, raising kids, obeying God’s Word — is much harder than sitting around hoping a moment of inspiration strikes. As Kevin DeYoung writes in “The Glory of Plodding“:
Daily discipleship is not a new revolution each morning or an agent of global transformation every evening; it’s a long obedience in the same direction.

His larger point is about the church, but I’m applying that (in a muddled way) to parenting. There’s not much fanfare and glory and praise in changing the fifth stinky diaper in 15 minutes or wiping up more crumbs or picking up the same toys for the umpteenth time. There’s no applause for cooking dinner night after night. There’s no spotlight for scaling the mountain of laundry every week. There’s no sudden global transformation that changes everything in an instant.

But look back in a few years and you’ll find that the faithful, daily plodding has added up not to just clean bottoms and clean floors, but to a life well-shepherded, a life ready to live on its own, a life that owes you everything, a life – dare we say it – transformed.

You may not have the immediate glory of a rock star or an inventor. But you’ll have your kids’ hearts and their lives, and that outweighs any 15 minutes of fame.

I gotta say, though, that ink for the blind sounds pretty cool.

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