The Lesson of the Mop

mopandbucket2With little-girl exuberance, five-year-old Mary barreled through the front door, challenging the door’s hinges and rattling the top pane of glass. For someone so small, her voice could really pack a wallop. “Mama, Mooommm!”

I had just sent Mary and her older sister outside to play, put the baby down for a nap, and was ready to mop the kitchen floor. From experience, I knew that the usable time-overlap-quotient—girls outside/baby asleep/chores begun—was a small window of time. I might have 30 minutes.

It had been three.

I held the dripping mop in one hand, put a finger to my lips, and reminded my preschooler to be quiet. “Mary, honey, Katie’s asleep. You’re supposed to be outside with Laura.”

“I know, Mama, but we’re gonna run races, and we need you to…”

Her gaze traveled to the mop, to the bucket of water, and back to the mop. “What’cha doin’?”

I mirrored her blank look. “For goodness sakes, honey. I’m trying to mop the floor, now scoot.

She remained fixated on the mop and bucket. “Can I watch?”

With a sigh, I pointed toward the front door, but my daughter seemed frozen in confusion. This was getting ridiculous. I could feel my time-overlap-quotient shrinking by the second.

“Mary Catherine, you have seen me mop a floor…” I stopped short at the look on her little face.

Haven’t you?”

Over the next few minutes, I got a humbling peek into my daughter’s shallow well of life experience. She was acquainted with the mop—she could identify it in a line-up of other household items. She was familiar with water in a bucket (from being chased around the yard with it by her sister).

Mary had heard me talk about mopping the floor many times, as it always preceded her being sent off to play.

But my middle daughter had never seen her mopping-mama in action.

I surrendered to the moment and told her to grab a stool and watch her mom do her thing. After about three strokes, back and forth, Mary hopped down with, “Okay, Mama, thanks.” Then she was off and running, rattling the door behind her.

Later that evening, I thought about Mary’s simple questions. What else have the girls heard me talk about but have never actually seen?

The possibilities were sobering.

My husband and I taught the girls to be kind. Was I kind when interacting with others?

We taught them to cherish God’s Word and we shared it with them regularly. Did they ever “catch” me having my personal quiet-time?

We taught them to love Jesus and to share Him with others. Was I being a living example of Christ-filled loving and sharing?

In Paul’s letter to Titus, he encouraged the young but mature Christian to teach the Crete believers to live pure lives and to be involved in good works. But Paul didn’t stop there. In Titus 2:7 the apostle goes even deeper—In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness…

In Paul’s Spirit-driven writing, “integrity” and “seriousness” in teaching must be welded with setting a Christ-like example in the way a believer lives.

It wasn’t enough to own multiple versions of the Bible, complete with study guides. We had to open God’s Word, then read, study, and apply it in our lives. The Lord reminded me that having a genuine Christ-centered home involved much more than telling our children the right way to live—we had to model it every day.

When’s the last time our children “caught” us living for Christ?


(Originally published on



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