When I teach Rite of Passage Parenting seminars, I tell parents God gives every child a desire to leave childhood behind and move into adulthood. This is part of the “ancient path” mentioned in Jer. 6:16 and can often be seen in children’s play. Little Susie wants to grow up and be just like Mommy. She tries on her mother’s high heels and lipstick. She stares at herself in the mirror, anxious for the day when she’ll look like Mommy. And little Johnny wants to help his dad fix the car or mow the lawn, even though he can’t lift a wrench or reach the mower handles.

In Luke 2, when Mary and Joseph found Jesus after three days of searching, He announced that He “must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49b). God had already invited His Son into His work. In the same way, every boy and girl is waiting for the day when Mommy and Daddy say, “Come join us in our work.”

To mimic this idea, modern society has come up with “Take Your Child to Work Day.” This is a younger version of job shadowing, in which a young person follows a parent or other person at work to learn more about a particular occupation. I always thought these were wonderful concepts . . . for any children except mine.

The person who thought up “Take Your Child to Work Day” never spent an hour, let alone an entire day, with my sons. When they were in elementary school, I would never have dreamed of taking them to work with me. I knew a day at work with my boys would end up as a nightmare for everyone involved. I did my best to convince them to stay home and shadow Mommy and her fascinating job of being a homemaker. “I’m a minister,” I told them, “My job is boring.” They weren’t buying it.

I used to have a recurring nightmare about “Take Your Child to Work Day.” Here’s how it went: My boys and I arrive at the office and the phone rings. On the other end is a woman who has just seen a Hal Lindsey movie. All upset, she’s now afraid to drive because the rapture might happen while she’s cruising down the highway, and she can’t live with the thought of the damage a car careening out of control would cause. While listening to her, I turn around and realize my sons are gone. Vanished! Disappeared! Nowhere to be found! Now I’m trying to counsel the frantic woman and at the same time think like two elementary school boys. Where could those two little rascals have gone?

The fact that my sons, along with every other staff kid, know every nook and cranny in the church (the ones the average church member has no idea exist) only compounds my thought process. Could the boys be in the children’s department playing with the toys? Or in the nursery eating up all the graham crackers and sucking down multiple boxes of apple juice? Are they in the work room duplicating their hands on the copier 35 times apiece, one for each of their classmates, while ignoring the prominent sign, “AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY”?

I come up with all these scenarios while trying to convince my distraught phone caller that in all likelihood, Jesus isn’t coming back today, and it’s safe to drive. By this time, I’m not listening to her at all. I know my sons. By this time, they’re probably on the pastor’s computer, chatting online with a lonely widow in Bulgaria.

The woman who called the church now tries using the newspaper and a few passages from the book of Daniel to prove that today is the day of Christ’s return. Finally, I say, “You know, you could be right. Why don’t you just call a taxi? I’m sure many of those drivers don’t know the Lord, so in case of the rapture, you’d be safe.” In a ministerial tone, I add, “Besides, it’d be a great opportunity to share your faith, don’t you think?”

Satisfied with this answer, she hangs up. At last, I look for my boys and discover my secretary has them peacefully putting together a puzzle. Just before I wake up, I remember: it’s not “Take Your Child to Work Day,” it’s “Dump Your Child on Your Secretary Day.”

Not long ago, I realized my heavenly Father has invited me to shadow Him. Just like my sons, I mess up, make mistakes and get into all kinds of things I shouldn’t. But His invitation is no dream. And He keeps inviting me back to join His work . . . every day.