Can you believe it? Across large sections of North America the summer vacation period is ending and SCHOOL is starting next week (cue parental cheers and children screaming)! And as many of us start to do, we begin to make plans relating to our kids and their school trips, sports, extra-curricular activities, etc. Setting priorities for our kids can start to become our focus this time of year.
But is it just me – or have we as parents become obsessed with making sure our kids are always one-notch ahead of the next kid? To borrow from Andy Stanley, we’re preoccupied with making sure our kids are smart-ER, handsome-ER, musically…-ER and so forth. As Andy says, as long as we’re living in the land of ‘-ER’ we feel better about ourselves. As long as our kids are getting better grades than the next kid or scoring one more goal then we think we’re doing ok as parents and start patting ourselves on the backs. We tie our security to the success of our kids. I’ll save that for another blog post. Back to the point of this one: setting goals for our kids.
But the pendulum can also swing in the other direction. We may reject the emptiness that accompanies ‘ER’ but we can also be in danger of not setting good, balanced goals for our kids. Is it possible to have a healthy ‘push’ towards improvement, but in the areas that are going to make them the most effective in this life (and for eternity)? I think it is possible, and I want to share with you what I have been thinking about for about a year now. I’m still fleshing this all out and haven’t completely landed yet, but this is the direction I’m headed.
Last year I listened to a podcast/message by Dr. John MacArthur on the parenting methods of Joseph and Mary towards Jesus. Needless to say, it was very intriguing. The several message series focused at one point on the following verse:
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” – Luke 2:52
Seems like a pretty harmless verse, right? But take a moment to read it four or five times.
It starts to pack a little more punch, doesn’t it? This verse points to the life of Jesus as a young man (12 years old). So as a 12 year old God-tween, Jesus was growing:
- intellectually (“wisdom”)
- physically (“stature”)
- spiritually (“favor with God”) and
- socially (favor with “man”).
Because Jesus was growing in these areas as a tween – and how awesome would it be for our kids to be following the same pattern? Not that making sure your kid scores goals in soccer is a bad thing – but really? As those that love the Lord and follow His will, is that the best we can do? Wouldn’t it be awesome to set some goals for your kids to grow in these aforementioned areas? Aren’t these the things we’re most concerned about anyway? And excelling in these four areas will actually produced a pretty balanced kid.
These four areas are probably applicable to any kid that is school age. So take a moment before we get too deep into this to make sure we’re tracking together. What are do these four areas mean?
Intellectually: Kids and their knowledge of their environment and how this applies to everyday life is a never ending adventure. Helping a child to expand their ‘brain potential’ is fun and rewarding.
Physically: Kids can always improve on their motor skills as they progress through adolescence, but once they start to get a little older discussions relating to how they take care of themselves are very appropriate.
Spiritually: Can a child focus more on their relationship with the Lord? Absolutely. They can learn how to pray biblically, they can learn to memorize Scripture, etc.
Socially: A child’s ability to relate with others in a meaningful, selfless way is an ongoing challenge. Many life lessons can be taught by how they think of the other people in their life.
So now take one of your kids – run your child through the grid of these four areas as we go into a new school year. Can you think of one way for each area that they could grow? Don’t make it overly complex – in fact probably the simpler the better. Take a child in elementary school, for example:
Intellectually: to improve her reading by sitting down with her for focused reading time (10 minutes each weeknight).
Physically: to help her get into her own patterns of showering by herself by December.
Spiritually: to encourage her to have a daily Quiet Time.
Socially: to engage one kid at school that is ‘mean’ and show love.
Think about these goals for a second. They’re simple, they’re powerful, they’re progressive and when you look at all four you have balance. Compare that to solely hoping they score a goal in your city soccer league.You could do this little exercise for each of your kids. You could even reward them each time they hit one of the goals. This little exercise will create good balanced patterns for your kids that help them to grow, not to be bett-ER than other kids, but to help them to become selfless servants of the Lord that are growing up in the same patterns Jesus did.