Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Parenting Goals

“Our goal in parenting is not ultimately for our kids to get a great education or to be great athletes or to find a great husband or get a great career.
Our goal is for them to love a great God.” ~ David Platt

This quote came up in my FB memories a few days ago, and I once again was stopped in my tracks by the truth of this statement. It caused such an urgency in my heart to expound on it that I decided to “come out of hiding” regarding my two-year absence from blogging.  
Having three teenagers, two of whom are now young adults, is bringing the reality of this statement to life! It has been the goal that Jarrod and I have set before us as we have been raising our three children these past 19 years.  To the end of this statement I would add, “and to glorify Him in everything we do.
It can be a real struggle in this culture to keep our PRIMARY GOAL in front of us.  As our kids were growing up in the early years, it did not seem as contradictory to be training them to follow whatever God teaches through His Word.  We have taught each of our children that their job is to ask God what HE has purposed for them to do in life, knowing that God created each of them with unique abilities, spiritual giftings, desires, and a specific purpose for His glory.
Jarrod and I are well aware that we have been extremely blessed with three children who are unique in their callings and abilities.  Learning to navigate through the past 19 years with a son who is extremely tall, talented and passionate about sports has proven a joy and a challenge. He has excelled at virtually every sport he has taken on.  With these attributes comes a plethora of opinions and advice from countless people who love him and/or see what could be.  Raising a daughter over the past 18 years who is very artistic, an honor student throughout her life, and literally told all the time that she should be a model makes my heart swell with pride!  Who doesn’t love being the mother of such a wonderful daughter??  Training up a 16-year-old son who is full of athletic talent, is the life of the party, and a super-smart student is sometimes more than my heart can handle.  
Although they each have these amazing attributes about them, we believe that ultimately, above any talent or ability they have, God created them to love Him and bring Him glory.  If they can dunk a basketball, or earn a Doctorate, or play for the NFL, but do not obey the calling of God on their lives, all is in vain.
I want to address four problems that truly plague our culture, and from what I am observing, the lives of so many American Christians.  
-College has become a god.  If you do not get a college degree you are wrong, wasting your life, will never have a good job.  This is proclaimed throughout schools as well as among Christians.

-We have come to believe the lie that our goal is to have the best paying job available (which apparently comes only as a result of a college degree).
-Investing, retirement, and vacations are the ultimate goal to make life complete.

-If you have great athletic ability, it is obviously for the purpose of pursuing an athletic career, at least for the purpose of going to college for free. However, the fame of a professional career in athletics adds to one’s sense of worth.

-The goal in life is to be as happy and comfortable as possible.  If you will do all of the above, you are ensuring that you get the most out of life.

In the past year, we have been through the graduation of two of our three children. I have to tell you, we have endured a lot of well-meaning, albeit secular, advice regarding the paths our kids are supposed to take. Here are just a few of the things others (each of these Christians) have told us- or our child, directly- that we had to hold up against the Bible and politely ignore.

  1. “Well, you can’t be a missionary forever…”
  2. “It doesn’t matter where she goes; the important thing is that she GOES!”
  3. “You HAVE to have a college education if you want to ever have a good job.”

To each statement I have a Biblically-based answer:
  1. Yes, you can.- Matthew 28:19, Matthew 4:19, Acts 1:8, and many more
  2. Yes, it does/No, it isn't.- Ephesians 5:15-16, Proverbs 3:5-6, James 1:5,  Romans 12:2, and many more
  3. No, you don’t.- Colossians 3:23-24, Deuteronomy 24:14(meaning: God does not call every believer to a “good” job), Proverbs 12:11, 1 Corinthians 7:17, and many more.

You see, if the Bible is our standard for living, statements such as those above simply do not line up with God’s Word.  

Nowhere in Scripture does God command us to have a formal education. While I am not against education,  I certainly am against how our society (and yes, our Christian society) has made a god of college.  I am against the lie that without a degree one is not able to have a good job.  I am against the belief that the “acceptable” path is college after high school.

As a Christ-follower, if the Bible is our standard (I say that again because so many Christians really don’t live with the Bible as their standard), then we look at the whole of Scripture, ask for the Holy Spirit to reveal His purposes for revealing His glory through us during our lifetime, and from there make decisions as to what He has for each of us to do.  It will not be the same for everyone; it may come in the form of abandoning our dreams for His glory, or it may flow naturally from our giftings right into a career or ministry that we have always hoped for.  

My goal is not to pick on Christians. What I am seeing, however, is how we as Christ-followers have begun to conform to the pattern of this world. Our American culture has so infiltrated our thinking that we now act and think just like the world.  Our sights have become set on financial ease, respectful jobs, college degrees, investments and retirement plans, etc.  What has become of living by faith?  Is that solely for missionaries who raise support?  Why is it no longer acceptable for us to grow up with little means, but serve God wholeheartedly? The life that Jesus talked about is not a life of luxury but one of denial, cross-bearing, and abandonment. Because we live in an environment of ease our eyes and our hearts are set on things of this earth, and anything different from the norm becomes absurd.   

I will end with this:
If my children grow up and give their lives to Jesus to serve Him in some far-off remote village for the rest of their days, I will consider myself to be the most blessed parent alive!  If my children grow up with a passion for Jesus that translates into being a witness for Him as a lawyer, an actor, a businessman/woman I will praise God!  If my children never go to college (or never finish their degree), but marry a man/woman who is sold out to Jesus, and are themselves, sold out to Jesus, God is glorified and I am truly the most blessed mother on this planet!

The things of this world mean very little.  Abandoning your life to Christ means everything.  Whatever form that may take on- it is from Him and to Him and through Him. That is my prayer for my family.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Melissa..... very long time since we've crossed paths, but I love reading your thoughts. When I was in high school (in the late 80's), our Sunday School teacher brought a pamphlet to our class titled "Should a Christian Go to College?" and it challenged my thinking in this area. I agree that college has become a "god" or "idol" and should never be the automatic answer to life after graduation. I loved seeing Jacob's facebook posts from his recent missions trip, and I can't wait to see how God uses his willing heart. Thanks for writing down the argument in black and white! (And for the record, my two oldest ARE going to college, but we had some very thoughtful discussions about all the options beforehand.) :-) Miss you bunches and bunches!!! -- Rachel Masters