A couple of years ago in our MOPS group, a guest speaker challenged us moms to decide what kind of adults we want our kids to be and to train them in that direction. Her words stuck with me.
What DO I want for my kids?
4. I want them to be kind and loving.
3. I want them to be hardworking and responsible.
2. I want them to love Jesus and follow Him.
1. I want them to know first-hand the power available to them through the Holy Spirit.
I did not say that I want them to have many friends who make them feel comfortable and popular.
I did not say that I want them to win awards and recognition for their achievements.
I did not say that I want them to be faithful church-attenders who know how to follow rules, memorize Bible verses, and do all the socially acceptable churchy things.
I did not say that I want them to be able to state the proper doctrines of the Trinity, eschatology, atonement, etc.
Which set of outcomes am I actually working towards???
What do they actually SEE me model?
What do I reward?
As a human who wants to be accepted, I long for my children to have best friends who will love and accept them. But instead of promoting cliques, I need to encourage my kids to reach out to the new kids, befriend the lonely kid on the playground, and take time to talk to the kids who are “different”. Why?? Because THAT is what Jesus did. He didn’t put much value on the “popular crowd”. He went out of His way to show grace and compassion to the down-and-out. So, do I model that behavior? Do I help the needy? Do they see me acting with compassion and love towards them?? (Ouch!)
As a human, my pride wants to see my children recognized for their achievements. It boosts my ego to know that they are “gifted” and “talented”. But gifts and talents will get them nowhere without character and responsibility to maintain them. Talent won’t feed their families, but hard work, character, and responsibility will. When they experience the hard times of life, I don’t want them to quit because they are not getting an award. So do I gush over good report cards and trophies, but forget to recognize the hard work they do day after day when no one is looking?
It’s relatively easy to take my kids to church and give them awards for good behavior like bringing their Bibles to church, memorizing verses, and dressing the “right” way. It’s much harder to have such a passion for Jesus myself that it ignites their passion for Jesus. When a person (even a child) seeks Jesus with his/her whole being, all those other things take care of themselves, but without Jesus, those outward behaviors just become ingredients for pious hypocrites!!
It’s relatively easy to teach my kids the correct doctrines of Christianity. They can memorize verses and have all the right answers, but not have the life-giving power of a relationship with their Creator. It’s much harder to experience the Holy Spirit myself so much that they can’t help but witness His power first hand…and want it for themselves! Much better than having right answers, they would have the right Person living inside them to teach them and guide them into truth.
Let’s re-evaluate our parenting. What ARE we teaching our children?
Let’s point our kids to Jesus, not to good behavior.
Let’s train a generation of God-seekers, not attention-seekers.