The more I read blogs and books, and listen to parents, the more it seems that the overarching goal is to have seemingly “perfect”—or at the very least, successful—children. Apparently, there are things you must do if you want to ensure that your children will come out as “winners” in the game of life. For starters, you must begin looking into schools before they are born. The waiting lists for preschools and private schools are lengthy. Or, if you are sending your children to public school, then you need to make certain you live in the right district, because a better school rating inevitably leads to a more intelligent child, and you know what that means—scholarships to the universities of your choosing. Speaking of education, if your child is going to have a higher I.Q., you had better make certain to breastfeed, because formula-fed babies simply don’t fair the same. And of course, while doing all of these things, you must do everything to give your child a predictable, scheduled routine. Only then will you succeed in the game of parenting and stand a solid chance of raising the perfect child.
“A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.”~Proverbs 21:2
Now, if you made it through that paragraph without gagging, then you either laughed or rolled your eyes. I suppose it depends on your current objectives and parenting stressors. Regardless of your thoughts, there is no doubt you have heard and perhaps even engaged in the debates—whether those debates are with others or the self-inflicted ones where you question, ponder, and do all you can so your children will be all they can be. If I may, I’d like to ask that for a brief moment, you lay down your pride (especially if you think it’s not there), step back, and look what parents are doing: we are making an idol of raising our children, and in the process, we are creating a delusion that we are somehow sovereign over their destinies. I wonder how God feels about what we are deeming of utmost importance during our child-rearing days. While I can’t know for certain, I’m fairly confident He would like His place back on the throne of our lives and our decisions. It’s time we put our agendas aside and get a grip. If we spent a quarter of our time as concerned about our child’s understanding that Jesus loves them as we do concerned about what educational institution they will attend, their lives and ours would look markedly different. We know this truth, yet we insist on rationalizing, justifying, and overlooking the obvious sin in our own life of making idols—of them and of ourselves.
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”~Mark 8:36
My husband recently attended a Bible study where one of the questions focused on idols and what some obvious ones are today. His group discussed other world religions and cultures, but ceased to mention television, sports, work, children, or church. Are we so tuned out due to the busyness we have created that we no longer recognize the idols in our own lives? Example: we know God wants us to follow Him, be good stewards of what He has given us, and grow in knowledge and understanding; He has told us to train up our children in the way they should go. Since A+B=C we read the Bible to our children, have a verse ready to share at every opportune moment, and create our calendars around all the Christian activities taking place outside of Sunday morning. We rejoice when another portion of Scripture is memorized, and we tell them what a “good job” they are doing. But do we see the potential harm we are causing? Do we recognize that in all of our doing, we may not be allowing God to do His part? Not only do we have the glaring issue of making idols, but we are living in fear. We may not see our decisions as fear-based (because of our pride), but aren’t they? When we determine a certain school or church activity will lead to better outcomes for our children, we walk a tight rope and determine God is not capable of creating those same or better outcomes with different plays than we drew up.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”~Ephesians 2:8-9
While desiring our children know Scripture, how to pray and praise, and what intentional living looks like are noble and important tasks, we must be on guard against training up little legalists with processes that are not defined in the Bible. There are so many “good” little people who become “good” adults with lots of knowledge, but no understanding of true life change. We have not only made idols of external things, but we have made idols of what it means to live for Jesus and be a Christian. Bottom line: you can know your Bible and not know Jesus. While we are focused on training up our children in the Bible, the sad reality is we are creating a system of do’s and don’t’s rather than the simplicity of a relationship with Christ.
“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”~Matthew 15:8-9
I don’t know much, and I’m not going to claim I do, but what I do know is our children are growing up in a culture that worships all the wrong things, and much of what they accept as their own reality stems from their parents. We must get our walk in line with our talk. The outcome we must be concerned about is the eternal one. While certain activities can certainly help make children more well-rounded, it can also cause them to develop false views of what matters most and look for the applause of others, more than the applause of the only One who matters. Let’s not grow complacent and dismiss what is taking place in nearly every home around us. It’s time we stop being backseat drivers and allow the Almighty, Sovereign God to work out His plan, humbly accepting that it often looks nothing like our own. Only then can we raise truly successful, but still completely imperfect, people.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” ~Proverbs 3:5-6
For His Glory,
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and are eagerly anticipating the arrival of their first daughter in March 2016. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.
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