With school starting around the corner I was thinking about our youth and the stresses and pressures they are about to enter back into. I was also thinking about us parents and what we place importance on; how we push our kids at their grades, sports and extracuricullar activities – the time and money we invest in those things. The better they are, the better the grades, the more valuable we make them feel. Then we push college. We make it seem as though they’re worth more if they have a degree.
Next comes the push for a good job and to make lots of money. The better the career and the more money they make, the more value they feel. Pushin’ in the wrong direction, toward what’s not really important at all in the scheme of things. We constantly ask them what THEY want to do with their lives instead of asking them what God wants and is calling them to.
I’m not saying sports, band, college and good paying careers are bad, not at all! They can be incredibly good and used to glorify God, and I’m not saying that our kid’s best efforts shouldn’t be put toward what they are doing. Colossians 3:23 says “whatever you do, work at it with all your hearts as if working for the Lord”, and that should be instilled in our children. BUT, sometimes we get caught up in directing our children toward worldly accomplishments MORE than we direct them toward God and Kingdom-worthy accomplishments. Let’s be real, how many of us would be thrilled if our child gave up a full-ride to college so they could pursue a call to ministry?
I was talking to a woman at an event a couple years ago and it came up that I am a Youth Leader at my church. She told me her middle-school aged son was losing interest in God, hanging out with the wrong crowd and making bad decisions. When I asked if she had spoken to his Youth Pastor and if he was plugged in with a Leader for discipling she said “no” and explained that her son’s practice was the same night as youth group and his sport events were on the weekend. She confessed it had been over a year since they had stepped foot in church. What was I supposed to say? Where did the priorities lie?
I’ve been guilty of it too. Unfortunately I chose the field and court for my kids over church, Biblical instruction, church community and youth group for many years. I pushed college and good careers so my kids would be successful but I did not put the same effort into their eternal value and purpose, into encouraging them to seek God and His will. I merely fit God in where I could: bedtime prayers, mentioned Him every once in awhile, youth group now and then, oh “grab that devotional” once in a blue moon, and church on the weekends if it wasn’t sport or river season. I failed at teaching my children the priority of a relationship with Christ those years.
It wasn’t until I became a Youth Leader many years ago that I realized what we as parents are doing wrong. I saw that the majority of kids who continued to seek God and His calling after high school were the ones whose parents considered it a priority. They saw the importance of a foundation in Christ for their children, of leaders in their kids lives to encourage them (it takes a village right? Or the church!) and were dropping their kids at youth group consistently, sending them to church camp, signing them up for service projects and discipleship programs so they could learn, connect, grow and experience; and those parents were also providing a good example by serving and seeking God and His will for themselves in addition to being open about their struggles. They were directing their children toward God so they could feel their value through Him.
We wonder why the majority of our youth fall away from God after high school – I think the number is in the 70 percentile. The enemy is strong, but let’s think about this for a second. Are you parents who consider salvation and God’s call a priority above all else? Are you teaching your kids a firm foundation in Christ, community in church, and value through Him only? Are you providing your child a better chance that their faith will not be shaken with their freedom and entry out into the big world?
It’s within our power to change those statistics! Let’s make it a priority for our kids to seek the Lord and His calling, to equip themselves with the armor of God, master the fruits of the spirit and to fulfill the great commission. God set a plan and a purpose for our children before they were even a twinkle in our eye. Let’s push them toward fulfilling that purpose – not toward fulfilling the world’s purpose. And don’t worry if your kids are grown like most of mine, there is still time! It is never too late to instruct in truth and lead by example. What a testimony for our adult kids to see a change in us!
In Christ, Rachel