I’ve been working alongside parents now for fifteen years, but I’ve only done this from the perspective of actually being a parent for the last five. Having kids of your own certainly changes your perspective. We all have hopes and dreams for what our kids will grow up to be. Every time we host a child dedication class, we ask the question, “What does parenting success look like to you?” We also ask another question that hits the same issue from a different angle asking, “If you could pass only one thing to your child by the time they become an adult, what would that thing be?” I know that we put parents on the spot with these questions, but I’m amazed how often parents give answers like, “I want my son to be happy” or “I wan’t my kids to be successful” or even, “I want my child to have respect for all people.” I’m not going to say that these are wrong things, but if these is the greatest hope this generation of parents have for their kids… well there’s no wonder we’re seeing moral and spiritual decay. My goal is that by the end of the baptism class, I’ve either convinced them or at least built a case for wanting an authentic relationship with Jesus for their kids.
I absolutely loved Craig Groeschel’s talk at Orange this year. He essentially communicated many of the philosophical and strategy positions behind Orange, but from his own personal perspective and experience. His shocking statement was that we should not aim to raise well rounded, highly educated and happy children. That’s what our culture communicates as a need, but this doesn’t line up with the scriptures.
- Well rounded really isn’t best. It’s average in everything. When hiring someone, you’re typically looking for someone who is good in one or a handful of areas.
- Well educated isn’t necessarily the best either. How many parents send their students to great schools only to have them lose their faith in exchange for intellect.
- Seeking happiness isn’t best either. Our culture worships the false god of happiness. Seeking happiness in itself is fleeting.
I’m not advocating that any of the things above are bad. I want some of those things for my kids… but it’s not the central object of desire. The scriptures say, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his own soul.”
Instead, we should aim to raise single-minded, Christ-centered, Bible-anchored world changers. YES! This is what I want!
Craig had so many other great nuggets of wisdom, I’ll end this post by listing them here:
- Parents: You will always be the most important voice… but you must not be the only voice.We must have intergenerational voices. Not just 20 year olds speaking into 16 year olds, but 60 year olds into 16 year olds.
- Raise your expectationsWe have dumbed down and lowered our standards. We must raise the standard of what we can expect the next generation can do. In biblical times, a child would have memorized the first 5 books of the bible by age 12. Of teenagers, we expect then to go to school, don’t get anyone pregnant and make your bed. We’ve lowered the standard and raised an entitled generation. Everyone gets a trophy just for showing up.
- Craig expected all of his kids were expected to have a mentor and be a mentor. How many 11 year olds think they can mentor? Those who have parents who think they can. Craig’s 16 year old wrote a book. How many 16 year olds wrote a book? Those who have parents who think they can.
- Raise your kids to be investors. Raise your kids to be owners. Tell them, you can lead a Bible study. You can lead your teacher to Christ. They can own a business. You can be in leadership at our church.
- Rules without relationship equals rebellion.
- If it’s not real to you, they’ll know. They are fake detectors. If you want to see them forgive freely with grace, forgive freely with grace.
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Great post! Too often as parents, we (and I am more guilty than anyone) have our goal to make life easier for ourselves. I want my kids to do good not because it is honoring to God, but because then I don’t have to deal with them.
This resonates with me. We’re all selfish at time and think about only our own convenience too often… even in the context of trying to raise kids who love God.
Thank you for posting your comments from the Orange Conference, as one who would love to be able to attend but can’t, it’s great to hear the wisdom through your posts.
Yeah, I thought I’d change up the way I posted my notes… Tied my own reflections into them. Yes, Orange is such a great conference.
I absolutely cannot believe that any Christian (or in fact, non-Christian) would actually hold these beliefs. If the truth of Christianity is so apparent, shouldn’t there be no danger in being educated? Even if there is, shouldn’t Christians want their kids to come to God willingly and informedly and not because they don’t know any better? Ignorance should NEVER be encouraged.
Not 100% sure what you meant by your post. The point is that most young Christian parents I encounter don’t believe that cultivating a strong faith in Jesus is the most important part of parenting. Education, having great skills and even being happy aren’t bad things at all… but when they’re the primary goal… that could be a big problem.
I don’t think Stephen he is advocating ignorance….I think he is just saying that to be careful. I advocate education completely…I think we just need to be careful and cautious….you are right, ignorance should never be encouraged…