Sounds like I don’t want my kids to be awesome and amazing and stand out and be successful.
In a society where the best rises to the top and the others are left scrambling trying to gain altitude with those we see as successful, I, as a parent and someone who follows Christ, have to step back and ask, “Is this what the people of God should also be about?”
Should we be telling our kids to be the best version of themselves and go and be successful and “you can do anything you put your mind to’?
I guess, if in the context of an American Dream society, that sounds pretty good.
However, in the context of people who believe in a God greater than them and has His own plans, those statements do not fit.
Let me clarify some things. I do want my kids to be successful, society contributing individuals that are secure and strong, loving and gracious. However, I do not want my kids to believe that they are the center of their universe and that their gifts and talents are a gift to the world.
I want them to know that the best version of themselves is the less version of themselves. Here, and only here, can they be available to be the best broken vessel for Christ.
What I want my kids to understand is this:
They are the “light of the world.” Not their own light, but a conduit of His great and marvelous light that brings people out of darkness. Their “light” is not their own. Matthew 5; Phil 2:12-16; John 1:3-9
They have access to the Almighty God who hears them when they pray, not just for their own asks, but for an intimate relationship with Him so that they know their role in His story, know His heart, and have the fullness of the Spirit. Matthew 6; John 17:3; Ephesians 2
Their humility leads to His greatness in them. A model of humility makes a greater impact than talking about it. These things I want for my children must first be what I want for myself. John 3:30
They are filled with the Holy Spirit to know Jesus and to have all they need in Him. Not for just giving them a sense of a better self, or that He died so they feel better about themselves, but so that they are a whole being, ready for their calling for His kingdom work, brave and true to the Truth. 1 Corinthians 2
There is no dream of God’s put in them that doesn’t not first give and bring Him all the glory, and second, would make them think they had the power to do it in and of themselves for their glory and success. 2 Thess. 1:11
Their life might not be so easy in the Church here in America as the years pass. Our concept and easy way of doing life here in America could see it’s last days in their lifetime. They will be equipped for a dark world and not ill-equipped because I inadvertently made them think this life was for their benefit and comfort or that I didn’t take what is happening around us seriously. 2 Tim. 1:8-12
Their weakness and failings are not something they should try and remedy. I’m not saying they should wallow in sin and weakness and be big, fat babies about stuff, but we tend to believe that if we have a weakness, we should get rid of it.
“Citius. Altius. Fortius.”
“Just Do It”
“If you believe, you can achieve”
“Be all that you can be”
The Word of God teaches to get rid of sin, but boast in weakness. That takes some training to know the difference between the two. One (sin) is covered by the blood of Jesus, the other (weaknesses) are empowered by the Spirit of Jesus to be and do what we cannot be and do ourselves. This is a far cry from being our “best self” when our “best self” is ridiculously weak and sinful. The more I teach my kids to rely in faith on the Holy Spirit to do and be all they need, the less they will work for themselves.
1 Thess 5:23; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; Romans 8:26-27
When they spend themselves on behalf of others and not on themselves, they will find wholeness and healing. When the majority of their time and thoughts are about alleviating the suffering of others and not pacifying a need for more stuff or recognition, then they will know the heart of God. Isaiah 58
These are just a few of the things I see that is very counter-culture (even in the Church, albeit I think it’s not been on purpose) that I want my kids to know and understand and live out. I can be caught up in a world that says I deserve things and should have things and that if I have faith I will be wealthy (okay, some of this stuff is on purpose in the church), and that I should get what I want and be who I want and be the best at all of that.
This is not what Christ taught or even emulated.
This is not what his disciples taught or emulated.
This is not what the early church lived or perpetuated.
We have a gift of a great country (America) that has been given the gift of wealth and influence, not for ourselves to make castles for ourselves and drive the best and wear the best, but we are the extension of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12.
I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
As the people of God, our blessings as a nation, but more importantly as a church, a wealthy and powerful church, we have been blessed to bless. We have been blessed to humbly give to the world the gospel of a great and gracious God. To teach our kids anything less, is to be counter-productive in the Kingdom and irresponsible with the Truth.
To teach our kids these things, we, the parents, must live them first. These things I want for my kids aren’t always played out in my own life. May His mercy and grace train me as I train them. May we all ask God to show us His ways over our own, His culture beyond our own, His plans and goals, His heart, and then, ask Him to help us leverage the blessing so that He is glorified and the nations are stunned with His majesty.
We get a lot of stuff wrong, we get a lot of stuff right, and the more humble we are to the Word of God and the indwelling Spirit, the more powerful and effective we will be in this world.
He must become greater. We must become less.