My daughter likes helping around the house, and it's certainly a habit we are trying to encourage. Now, I should mention that my daughter isn't quite two years old, so how much "helping" is going on is debatable. Still, allowing her to help is more about building her character than efficiency. Her favorite way to help is to close doors. If there is a door open anywhere in our apartment, she will find it and make sure that sucker gets closed!
Most of the time this is pretty cute, though sometimes it's actually pretty annoying. Sometimes I am trying to carry laundry from the dryer to the bedroom (a two-handed job), only to find every door between me and my goal suddenly closed! At other times she's stubbed one or more of my toes in her eagerness to close the front door behind me. And one time she closed the front door so forcefully that she knocked items off the wall!
Once again, my daughter's antics give me insight into my own relationship with my Heavenly Father. Sometimes I get a bit too proud of myself for my service to God, but in reality I'm more like my two-year old than I would like to admit. God needs my help even less than I need a 30 inch tall person helping me close doors!
And just like my daughter, I think I cause more harm than I realize at times in my over-eagerness to help my Father. How many times have I spoken words that weren't necessary? How many times have my well-intentioned actions actually made things worse? How many times have I been guilty of simply getting in the way of what God is trying to accomplish?
I'm glad that God lets me help Him. It brings me joy, just like it lights up my daughter's eyes when I tell her how proud I am of her for helping. But my daughter and I have something in common: the "help" we give is much more about forming our character than anything else. Now I do think that God chooses to run the world in such a way that human action and participation are meaningful, but we shouldn't conclude that He makes things work that way because He needs the extra hands!
And unfortunately, I am also like my daughter in that the help I try to offer isn't always welcome or, well, helpful. Just like my daughter is most helpful when she is listening to what I am asking her to do -- as opposed to doing what she thinks the situation calls for -- I am most helpful when I am listening to my Father's voice, as well.