What Do You Most Want for Your Kids?

Occasionally, my wife and I offer a seminar that’s designed to help parents of newborn and very young children. One of the reasons we offer it is because we remember how clueless we felt when we first had kids. One of the reasons we offer it occasionally is because we need a good stretch in between to forget how poorly we follow our own advice.

At any rate, we’ve always begun the seminar by asking parents a question that I’d like you to consider at the moment: what is it that you most want for your kid(s)?

I think it’s fairly easy to list some of the more common answers that parents in our culture are likely to give to that question:

  • For them to get a good education.
  • For them to have a good job.
  • For them to find the right spouse.
  • For them to have good friends and relationships.
  • For them to be responsible members of society.
  • For them to be financially independent.
  • For them to have a family of their own.
  • For them to stay out of trouble.
  • For them to be successful in what they choose to do.
  • For them to make a positive impact on the world.

Now of course all these things are worthy goals. And there’s something to be said for the fact that fulfilling most of them may even lead your children to live someplace other than your basement. But are any of them the most important thing we could want for our kids?

When I try to think about that question from a biblical perspective, I’m positive the answer is no. I say that because I just don’t find any passages that say something like the following: “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may have a good retirement plan.” Or, “Let the one who boasts boast of this: that he/she has a beautiful home, a wonderful spouse, and future Nobel Laureates for kids.” Or “Love your career with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your vacation as yourself.”

On the other hand, the Biblical story is filled with passage after passage, image after image indicating that our highest purpose and greatest happiness is bound up with knowing, following, loving, and enjoying the Lord.

That’s why the Psalms urge us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” and promise that “my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” It’s the same reason why Paul writes “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31), and that “to live is Christ and to die is gain,” (Phil. 1:21). It’s why Jesus’ invitation to his first disciples—“follow me” (Mark 1:17, John 1:43)—is the one he gives to us as well. In doing so, he says, “You will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mat. 11:29-30) and“everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Mat. 19:29).

Again, these passages are illustrative, not exhaustive. But they all spring from the central truth that God made us for himself, and therefore he is where our fulfillment lies. Throughout the centuries, Christians have recognized this time and again. Augustine famously said, “Our hearts are restless, until they find rest in you.” C. S. Lewis echoed the great church father when he offered, “God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.”And the Westminster Shorter Catechism expresses a similar thought in its memorable first question and answer:

Q: What is the chief end of man?

A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

Now, if all this is true, it doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t help coach the sports teams. Or get our kids music lessons and math tutors. Or wish for them to get accepted to a prestigious school or hired by great company.

But it does mean that the best thing we could ever, ever do for our kids is to introduce them to and and consistently encourage their faith in Jesus Christ.

And that lead to one more question: in what ways should this foundational truth change the way we parent?

More next week.

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