Quid Pro Quo

"Quid pro quo" by Claire McGarry (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: By Lina Trochez (2017), Unsplash.com, CC0/PD

Now that my kids are older, and especially since going back to work, I’ve transferred a lot of chores and tasks to them. I want my kids to learn to pull their own weight. I don’t want them to become entitled, like so many of their generation. Also, in all honesty, I need their help in order to survive.

Yet, what I’m finding is that the more time passes, the more I’m raising them in a quid pro quo style: “I do this for you … So, you do that for me.” Although it’s working, this Scripture passage makes me doubt my approach, and my motive.

“When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'” (Luke 17:10)

I’ve always struggled with Luke 17:7-10. Even the subtitle, “Attitude of a Servant,” rubs me the wrong way. I’m okay serving when I have the energy and desire, but I don’t want to be anyone’s servant. I certainly don’t want to be bossed around like I’m someone’s slave. So how do I come to terms with Jesus’ command?

As usual, it’s a perspective thing. If we look at what we do as a service to others, we eventually grow bitter, especially if the giving tends to go just one way.

Instead, we need to recognize that all our doing should be done for God. Feeding our children is feeding Him. Caring for our friends in need is caring for Him. Giving to our communities is giving back to Him.

The real truth is: We’ll never reach a true quid pro quo with God. He gave far more to us than we can ever give to Him: He gave us His only begotten Son who then gave up His life to save our souls.

It’s time to leave the quid pro quo approach by the wayside. God’s not requiring us to pay back a thing. Instead, His completely selfless giving should inspire us to emulate His approach with everyone in our lives.

Copyright 2020 Claire McGarry


About Author

Claire McGarry is the author of the Lenten devotional "With Our Savior," published by Creative Communications for the Family/Bayard, Inc. and All is Blessing: Finding God in the Tensions of Life, to be published by Our Sunday Visitor in the fall of 2021. Her freelance work has appeared in various Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Focus on the Family magazine, Catechist magazine, These Days devotional, and Keys for Kids devotional. The founder of MOSAIC of Faith, a ministry with several different programs for mothers and children, she blogs at Shifting My Perspective.


  1. How easily I fall into the whole pattern well I did this so they should recognize or do that. Great reminder of anything we do work, play, family, volunteering, in His name. Having strong faith doesn’t always mean we do the right thing.

  2. I get caught up in the trap of thinking that others should reciprocate what I do for them. But God has been speaking to me about that recently and putting my heart in check. I need to let go of expectations and do things from my heart without Expecting others to reciprocate. This is what God has called me to do. But I like how you have given us another perspective- our doing for others is for God. If I’m doing from the heart then I give and do for God, without expecting anything back. Thank you, Claire!

    • Thanks so much, Sandra! I find it’s a daily battle. I constantly forget that if my intentions are skewed, I’m making myself vulnerable to a “keeping score” mentality. It’s when I hit a wall that I finally soften so God can teach me yet again that it’s about Him, not about me. I just wish I weren’t so dense and could retain the lesson permanently. Onward and hopefully upward!

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