Not Raising Successful Children

Today, you need to read this encouragement from Lysa Terkeurst.  It’s good stuff.

You see, I can get caught up in a very prideful way of parenting.  I want my children to do well — to make good grades, to score points on the basketball court, to shine in the school musical programs.  Often, though, my desire for them to do well is more about my pride and my ego than about wanting what is best for my children.  And I have to purposefully fight against this.  If I am not intentional about NOT parenting this way, those selfish, prideful motivators creep in.

It’s easy to get sucked into the world’s definition of success.  A successful student makes A’s and creates beautiful school projects.  A successful kid plays sports or stars in a play or plays first-chair in the band or performs beautifully in a dance recital.  And if we have a child who makes the honor roll or who is the star of the soccer team or who catches on quickly to playing the piano, we can quickly get caught up in chasing those things, rather than chasing God and allowing Him to use those talents to glorify Himself.

I have a son who will probably not graduate with honors.  He will always have to work three or four times as hard in school as others.  And sometimes, he’ll still only do half as well.  Reading is hard work for him; spelling is even harder work.  And though he has the most unbelievable imagination, he struggles to get his ideas onto paper because choosing the words and spelling them are huge hurdles.  He has an engineering brain, but he often gets tripped up on math because reading and following directions are a challenge to him.  Though I’ve seen huge improvements in the past few months, I know that he will probably always be an average student.

This same son played basketball last year, and he was not the star player on the team.  He had fun; he played hard; he did his best; but he was often just a kid on the court.  He wasn’t the player everyone noticed.  He scored a few baskets, but he certainly didn’t win the game for his team.  He is an average basketball player.

When he has participated in school musical programs, he struggles to remember the words to the songs.  He’s often the kid fidgeting with his arms, rocking on his feet, mumbling sounds during the verses and then belting out the chorus.  Let’s just put it this way — nobody ever asked him to sing a solo.

My son’s strengths are not the sort of strengths that get an 8-year-old noticed at school or on the sports’ field or on the stage.  In the world’s eyes, he’s just an average kid.

But I know that God has given him all sorts of strengths and gifts and talents, and I know God has big plans for this little boy.  My son has helped teach me that, like Lysa Terkeurst, my job isn’t to raise a successful child.  My job is to raise a man of God.

And so I look for his talents and point them out.  I notice the strength of his character and nurture that and build it.  I encourage him to chase God, to pursue God’s purpose and plan for his life.

Well, I don’t always do a perfect job.  I mess up plenty.  I get discouraged when other people don’t see how great my son is, when they think he’s just an average kid.  I sometimes forget that recognition from people isn’t really important.  I struggle to remember that it really isn’t about me or how I look.

But at the core of my being I know that my goal is raise a man who pursues God.  My goal is to raise a man who seeks to discover and use His strengths to serve God.  My goal is to raise a man who has a heart that loves God and hands that serve Him all the days of his life — whether that includes school honors or basketball trophies or not is completely irrelevant.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Not Raising Successful Children

  1. Linda Lynch

    We all need to remember its not how many talents we have been given but what we do with them . That is what really matters

  2. oh my yes…. this post is so where we are right now. especially with our eldest. We have been asking for wisdom and God’s eyes to see what He sees in our children. Eyes to see their strengths and wisdom to know how to encourage and build on it. Infants really are the easy part. ( But I won’t say that to the new mom 🙂 its ALL hard – and rewarding)

  3. Renee, yes, yes yes. When mine were all little and I had so many in diapers and so little sleep, it was physically exhausting – FOR SURE. But this, this helping discover and nurture six individual personalities is so emotionally and mentally exhausting!

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