As I write this, I am nearly in disbelief. I feel like I need to pinch myself to see if the reality of our eldest child going to church youth camp is really happening. *Pinched myself* Guess what? It is confirmed; she is headed off to youth camp. By God’s grace, our little baby girl is growing up into a young lady, and we are both thankful and a little nervous. Yet, my wife and I are constantly placing her in the sovereign hands of the Lord who we know rules and reigns over everything.
My concern, however, is rapidly growing for parenting in the American context. The question I am asking myself is: Have we replaced an eternal perspective for parenting with the temporal success of our children as our main goal for raising our children? To be clear, the pull of the world is extremely powerful when it comes to raising our children to be successful as the world defines success.
For example, my wife and I had to make a decision about sending our oldest to church camp. You may be wondering why this was such a difficult decision. Our child attends year round school. This means that while most students have their summers off, ours just started her school year. In other words, attending camp results in her missing school.
Here comes the parenting perspective. On the one hand, our child would be at youth camp where she will hear the gospel, where we pray Christ will open her heart and mind to the fullness of who he is and what he has done, and where she will have an opportunity to build godly relationships that will help her thrive in the future as God’s grace becomes more evident in her life. On the other hand, she would miss three days of schooling, be behind on her work, have to spend some extra hours making up that work, and will be exhausted from camp when she returns to school the following Monday.
The pull of the world’s perspective was quite enticing to keep her in school and out of youth camp. As parents, we began to think about potential consequences for her future. What if she fails a few assignments because she missed school and went to camp? What if she didn’t make up her work because she was too tired? There goes college, and a career, and possibly earthly success. Right? These are all the thoughts that we parents wrestle with when it comes to our children and their futures. As parents, we want what is best for our babies.
But, what is truly best for our children? This is where the goal of this post materializes. My wife and I asked God to help us keep an eternal perspective when it came to making this decision. What’s more important in this life? A grade on a test? A career? A life living out the American Dream? Or one decision that has an eternal consequence? Perhaps we, parents, need to start asking the question: How do the decisions we make for our children have eternal significance for their spiritual condition?
When you begin to think about parenting with an eternal perspective, what’s best for our children is a relationship with Jesus Christ above all else. I would rather my child miss a few days of school instead of miss eternity with Christ. A grade on a piece of paper seems so insignificant when it comes to a decision to follow Jesus and be with him for all eternity.
Please do not hear what I am not saying. This doesn’t mean we don’t challenge our children to do well and succeed. In fact, a relationship with Christ will cultivate within them a desire to be excellent because God is excellent. A desire to get a good job because God created us to work. A desire to honor authority because God commands it. A desire to make money and be good stewards as God decrees. A desire to make the world a better place for Christ because God mandated it. In other words, everything in life falls into its proper place when we have King Jesus at the center.
Therefore, the most important thing we can do as parents is point them to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Pointing them to him places a new perspective for our parenting–an eternal one. I get the enticing pull of the world to help our daughter be a Valedictorian, have exceptional skills and gifts that will allow her to be in successful in life, see her become a veterinarian, and enjoy a life full of great friendships. But the words of the Apostle Paul ring ever more true in my ears:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.Philippians 3:7-10
This Bible passage exemplifies parenting with an eternal perspective. I would rather see my children lose the whole world and gain Christ. I pray that God would use Katie and I to guide our children to place their faith in King Jesus before it is eternally too late. And, that is my prayer for you too.
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