Wednesday mornings were always crazy in the Swanson household, and this one was no different. It was snowing, the middle of February, garbage day, and we were late. I hurried my daughter to our white minivan, buckled her into her seat and sped down the driveway to get her to preschool and me to work. I stopped at the first intersection and, as usual, nothing was going right. Cars went streaming past and I couldn’t make it across. We were just going to have to wait.
As we waited, my daughter suddenly started saying “What needs to be done?” I tried to ignore it, but she kept getting louder and louder, “What needs to be done? What needs to be done?” I thought to myself, “Oh, that’s cute.” We had just taught her that phrase, and it was coming in very handy around the house. For example, I would take her to her bedroom and ask, “What needs to be done?” and she would clean up the bedroom. Then I would take her to the living room and ask, “What needs to be done?” and she would help clean up the living room. As my daughter continued to get louder, she started to pound on the window. I became irritated, turned around, and said, “You’re right, honey. What needs to be done,” (it wasn’t a question) and turned back around to attempt to get her to school on time. She kept pounding and I finally gave in. “What? What needs to be done?” She pointed to a house at the corner of the intersection that had a very steep driveway. My eyes followed the driveway up, and at the top was an elderly woman with a walker beginning to drag her garbage to the bottom of the hill. In that moment, I realized that my daughter knew what needed to be done and that I had missed it.
At this point I had a decision to make—I could proceed with the drive and be a little late, or answer my daughter’s question with action and be a lot late. I knew what needed to be done. I slowly pulled the car to the bottom of the woman’s driveway and turned on the hazard lights. I walked up the snow-covered hill, asked if I could help, and moved her garbage down to the road. At this point, we were really late, but I knew it was for the right reason.
My discovery that day was that what needs to be done is not just a question for my daughter—it’s a question for me as well. I know that if I want my children to be sensitive to where God might call them to help, I must set an example by opening my eyes and answering with action. When I do, the difference I make is not only a difference in my community, it is also felt in my home.
As my family continues to discuss serving, we have woven it into our prayers. At night, we ask God to help us open our eyes to see what needs to be done, and have the courage to answer the question with action.
This month, weave the question, “What needs to be done?” into your family’s prayers. Each morning before everyone heads off in their separate directions, pray that God would give you His eyes to see what needs to be done around you. Then keep your eyes peeled throughout the day and step in to help where you see a need. At the end of the day, talk about the places that you were able to serve. Thank God for the opportunities He has given you to make a difference.
A fun way to keep this fresh is to think of different places each day. Pick from this list each morning. Then pray God would give you His eyes in that place.
What needs to be done?
- at school
- at home
- during an activity
- in our family
- in our neighborhood
- in our community
- in my relationships
- Who do I need to forgive?
- Who do I need to reach out to?
WBCL Radio, a Christian radio station in Fort Wayne, Indiana, interviewed Brodie about this article on March 3, 2016. Listen to the full interview here! This interview also includes an interview with Debbie Guinn, HomeFront’s editor in chief, and Kara Noel Lawson, author of When Dads Throw Their Kids in the Air. Brodie’s portion of the interview begins at 21:00.