I love my kids. The first time I saw them I knew that my love for them would last forever. As parents, Sarah Beth and I are always looking for ways to encourage, discipline, and motivate them to not only be people of integrity – but also passionate followers of Christ. Like most parents, we want our children to not only have the experiences necessary to grow into healthy adults, but the confidence to live a life above reproach. With this in mind though, I’ve come to realize that the worst thing I can do for the spiritual vitality of my children is to revolve my life (and my calendar) around them. Let me explain:
The temptation for many parents today is to involve their kids to the point of excess. We’ve been tempted by that as well, keeping our kids busy in extracurricular activities not only keeps them out of trouble, but builds character, teaches teamwork and creates confidence and perseverance. But there is such a thing as too much. Our lives as parents should not revolve around our children – but around Christ. Now, as a Christian parent, we would say that is absolutely right – however our schedules, actions, and encouragements don’t always line up with that value – thus making our core value our children and not Jesus.
Here are few thoughts to chew on:
1) When we revolve our lives around our kids we’re teaching them that God sees them as the center of the universe. For people to think that God’s agenda and love revolves around something He created is absolutely heretical. Christ died for God’s glory, saved us for His purposes, and created people for His delight. We are beneficiaries of His good graces. Our responsibility as parents is to teach our children a healthy understanding of the centrality of Christ.
2) Many times when we revolve our lives around our children it is a feeble attempt to relive our childhood or live out what we never experienced through our children. The question that I’ve had to ask is this: what if my kid hates what I love – what do I do? I’ve had to learn to encourage what they love, not what I like. Now – they both like to watch TV, but what I’m focused on is art vs. football, academics vs. athletics, etc. This even applies to our spirituality: while I love to dig deep into the Word, my daughter loves to sing and praise God through her creativity. I’ve had to learn to encourage that, and honestly apply it.
3) Finally, while most of us believe that we have brought a future all-star, NFL quarterback, or LPGA golf star into this world – the reality is that less than 2% of high school athletes go on to get an athletic college scholarship. A bigger reality is that less than 12% of college athletes go “pro.” What does that mean for the hard working soccer mom, band dad or the parent that spends weekends at the ball field? Simple: encourage your kids to practice, play and work hard at their activity – but more effort needs to be given to the academic side of life – and even more encouragement on their spiritual vitality.
Understand – I’m not saying don’t play summer league, throw away your trumpet or quit the team. What I am saying is as parents the best thing that we can do is revolve our lives around Jesus and allow our kids to experience the outpouring of His grace – not only through our words, but through our actions. Parenting is hard – you are not alone.