The Gift of the Little Drummer Boy


Since I was a child, the “Little Drummer Boy” has been a favorite Christmas song of mine. I love all the “pa rum pum pums,” maybe because even someone as musically challenged as me can sing those!  But last year during the holiday season while reading Ann Voskamp’s advent devotional book, The Greatest Gift, I was struck by a certain sentence from the Day 2 reading that made me love the song all the more.

It occurred to me that the little boy had something right we often get wrong, or at least don’t live as if it’s true. As the song goes, the little boy was told to come see the newborn King. Everyone would be honoring him with their finest gifts. But the Little Drummer Boy was poor and didn’t have any gifts fit for a king. All he could do was play his drum.

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum, on my drum?” 

So the little boy began to play the best he had ever played. Mary and the animals liked it, but even better, the King himself smiled at him. Pa rum pum pum pum.

The Little Drummer Boy offered all he could to the king. We’ve heard this message before—no gift is too small and we should give whatever we have to give. This is true because our giving has more to do with our heart than the actual gift. The boy got this. But I wonder if the little boy was so happy to play his drum because he understood something even deeper… Me and my drum. 

According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”  While not an exact verse out of the Bible, this statement encapsulates the whole of Scripture that in and through and to all things be the glory of God through Jesus. Apart from Jesus’ coming as a babe on our behalf we could not know the eternal, perfect love of God. To God be the Glory!

What started me down this thinking track, were Ann Voskamp’s words from her book, “…the greatest gift we can give our great God is to let His love make us glad.” 

And so it seems, what Jesus wants from us is not our good works, our good behavior, our good church attendance, our good witness, our good efforts to be a good Christian, or anything else we think we can give to him, but for us to be made glad by what he offers us!

Now hear me— those things I just threw out are good things, but again it’s the heart behind our “goodness,” for goodness sakes! So we must always be asking and evaluating our true motives behind the good we do.

Is it to try to earn God’s favor? Is it to look good or feel better about ourselves? Is it out of guilt? Is it so we look better in someone else’s eyes?

Apart from his love driving us, our goodness may benefit others, make us look good or feel good, but it is no “gift” to God.  What he wants is to see us joy-filled because of our salvation. In other words, when we are transformed by the benefits of knowing his grace and forgiveness, compassion and mercy, and the Spirit at work within us, our enjoyment of him will be evident by how we seek to live and love. Compelled by his love, what we do serves as a reflection of our desire to glorify and obey him. Not to get, but to give out of gratitude.

So what if instead of focusing on what we should or should not do to be a so-called “good” Christian, we simply focus on the babe in the manger: The King who came to a dark and broken world for self-absorbed, manipulative people, like us, so he could give us the greatest gift.

How twisted that we think we have anything to offer at all. But how beautiful it is when we “get” that instead of trying harder, we can simply relish who he is for us. May we rest in that this season. To God Be the Glory. Pa rum pum pum pum.

About the Author:

Kristen Hatton

Kristen Hatton is the author of Face Time: Your Identity in a Selfie World for teen girls and the teen devotional, Get Your Story Straight. In addition to her own blog and enCourage, she is a frequent contributor to The Rooted Ministry blog and has been featured on The Gospel Coalition. Kristen lives in Oklahoma with her pastor husband and they have three teenagers. Learn more by visiting her website at

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