One day, as I was out-and-about town, I ran into an old friend. She was a woman who attended the church my husband was on staff at when we were first married. She was raising her kids when he was the Youth Pastor and she saw us begin our family with the birth of our daughter, who is soon to turn 22. Naturally, the conversation turned to where her children are now—marriage, kids, careers, location, etc.. And she wanted to know what the future held for our three. College? Career path? (She had children who all ended up in careers that, by the world's standard are respectable and profitable. And they also are adults of character too!)
It got me thinking about what we say is ‘success’ when it comes to our offspring.
Is it having kids who grow up to do a job that society deems important? And what about now? How do we measure success in our kids where they are still young and in our homes? By having ones who are outwardly obedient, saying ‘yes ma‘am’ and ‘no sir’ and ‘pleased to meet you’ on cue? That can be a good sign and we ask this of our own children. However, the older I get the more I know this to be true: Obedience, while it manifests itself in outward actions, begins in the heart.
While I want to teach my kids to behave—sometimes not an easy lesson to instill—more importantly, I want to teach them to have their hearts right with God. I used to want kids who did no wrong. Now, I have a different goal. When they do do wrong--as all kids and adults sometimes do, I want them, rather than to hide it, to correct it. To be sensitive to the times they hurt someone’s feelings or disobey behind our backs. Then to listen to the Spirit’s prompting, admit their fault and right the wrong.
And as far as academics go, can I let you in on a little pet peeve I have? All of those bumper stickers! You know the ones, “My child earned a ________ award”, “My kid is on the honor roll at _________.”, “My kid is far superior to the two academically average offspring you currently have fighting over leg room in the back seat” (Okay, so I’ve never really seen that one, I’ve just felt that way when I’ve spied the first two!)
Now, if you have such a bumper sticker on your vehicle, I am sure it is to honor and bless your child who worked hard to earn the right to display that colorful decal. That is wonderful!! Smile and be proud! If I had one, I'd surely display it.
But academic success is not as important as character.
My goals for my kids over the years have changed a bit. Yes, I want them to take schooling seriously. However, it doesn't stop there. I want them to be Christ-like.
So now? I am shooting to earn the right to accurately display the following bumper sticker on our aging silver mini-van:
“My kid nearly flunked Algebra, is as we drive pestering his sibling, but his heart is tender toward the Lord”
Blessings, Karen Ehman, KarenEhman.com