What’s Your Goal?
What is our goal in parenting? Are we praying that the little ones won’t get into too much trouble? Are we hoping that by the end of high school they won’t have done anything “really” wrong? Do we buy into culture that we want them to be successful, in a worldly sense, and economically better than we are? What is our goal?
Someone might ask why there even needs to be a goal. Although, almost everywhere else in life goals are necessary. You and I have goals at work. We don’t just go, at least most of us don’t, and wonder what we are going to do today. We plan vacations. We have goals for retirement. You can probably think of numerous other things you plan for and have goals set.
But what about parenting? As we continue to look at the “7” marks of a family-equipping church, we come to the second mark and see that it is Parenting with an Eternal Goal. In the article by Dr. Timothy Jones he says, “Parenting guides the child toward conformity to the character of Christ. All young people should be raised with the conviction that they are to be missionaries and that their primary goal is to use their gifts and resources to advance God’s kingdom.” That is quite a statement, because I believe you and I need to understand all the elements of what he is saying.
First, we must be convinced conformity to the character of Christ is our first priority. Not only must we be convinced this is best for our child but we must be convinced that this is best for me. Is conformity to the character of Christ your first priority? Do I model the pursuit of holiness “Christ-conformity” at home? Do my children know I am pursuing this? Do they know I struggle with sin, besides the fact they may face my anger at times? I mean, do they hear me asking their forgiveness and modeling repentance and faith in the home?
Second, what about this idea of raising them to be missionaries? What!? I don’t want them leaving the country (I bet this is what you thought about). What about raising them to see all of their life as a life of missionary work? Do we reinforce that their school is a mission field? Remember that statement “Somethings are better caught than taught?” I do believe this is one of those areas. Are you and I modeling a missional life? Do we serve others in the community who have needs? Do we intentionally build relationships with unbelievers, for the purpose of praying to lead them to Christ? You might say you are too busy for that stuff. I recently heard a great acrostic for the word busy (Being Under Satan’s Yoke). Listen parents, God wants us modeling the missional life. God intends for our children to learn about loving others by the example we show and how the example reinforces the bible taught.
Third, we are to teach them how to view their gifts and resources for God’s kingdom. What are my gifts to the body of Christ? Is there more than just putting my tithe in the offering plate, although our kids do need to see that? How should we teach our children to view their talents and experiences? Are they important to God? What is my role as a parent in this area of parenting? Let me speak from experience, that I know how to do this in the area of sports. I know how to assess ability and strengths and utilize them on the playing field. However, as a follower of Jesus, I believe all of life is a life of worship and I want my kids to understand sports in light of who Christ is and who they are in Christ. Parents, this changes things. This looks and sounds different than the family across the street who goes to the same games, but without a kingdom perspective.
Lastly, do we as parents teach a kingdom perspective? Am I communicating a kingdom to my children that is bigger than one church? Am I teaching and modeling for my children, that although God’s kingdom is bigger than one church, we are faithful to Him as we serve in the local church. Being a part of the local church is part of what it means to seek first the kingdom of God. We are not only attenders, but we are building relationships with other believers, serving in our areas of gifting, and seeking to make a difference in this community by our involvement in the local church.
Well, that was a bit more than I had planned first sitting down. Parents, you and I both recognize there are areas we need to seek God’s help and direction. The leadership of the church realizes we have to come along side our parents and provide encouragement and equipping in these areas. Although we believe God has established parents as the primary faith-influencers in our kids lives, He has also established for us to do this in community (together as the church). Don’t throw the towel in. God’s grace is greater than our sin and He always provides for what He calls us to.