I was just listening to a song by Lecrae called “Misconception.” The more and more I look at our culture, I’m beginning to think that we have so many misconceptions about the point of parenting. Two covers of one baby magazine that MK and I get in the mail have recently had “how to raise a genius” and “how to raise a cultured child.” Then, of course, that “Time” magazine cover has opened up the floodgates of this idea of “attachment parenting”– orbiting your whole world around your kids’ “needs.”
We may have some misconceptions. And, yeah, maybe we sympathize with the struggles of families on shows like “Parenthood” or laugh at what we have in common with the families on shows like “Modern Family,” how often do we really think about the point of all this?
Craig Groeschel really leaned into this issue at the Orange Conference, and I’m glad he did. He spoke to the culture. Let’s be honest, our culture says that parenting is all about “raising well-rounded, well-educated, happy kids.” Maybe you can throw in some other things that you like, but those seem to be three biggies. But, Jesus says, “What good is it if you gain the whole world yet forfeit your soul?”
Groeschel reminds us of Psalm 71:18:
“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare Your power TO THE NEXT GENERATION, your might TO ALL WHO ARE TO COME.”
This should be our prayer. There is a different picture of successful parenting that is laid out in Scripture, and it looks something more like this:
“We are called to unleash single-minded, Christ-centered, Biblically-anchored, world-changers.”
Let’s break that down. ”Unleash” means that you let them interact with the world, make a difference in the world (you can’t do that from a “holy huddle”). ”Single-minded” implies that our kids would know how they are wired, what their gifts are. ”Christ-centered” rightly assumes that life is all about Jesus. ”Biblically-anchored” means that they would know God’s Word. And the result of all of this would simply be that they are “world-changers.” Or…”game changers” if you want to stick with the theme of the Orange Conference.
So…Groeschel explains some major ways in which we can do this, highlighting Deuteronomy 6:4-9:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the LORD is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
1. As parents, we need to ENLIST SUPPORTING VOICES.
Moses is addressing “O Israel”– that’s like everybody. Later on, this dynamic of widening the circle of influence is evident in the life of Timothy. Yeah, he had his godly familial influences (Lois and Eunice, mom and grandma); but he also had Paul. He would tell him the hard stuff like, “Don’t let anyone look down on you” and “don’t have a spirit of fear.” Timothy had consistent harmonious voices in his life, encouraging him to step up and be a world-changer.
2. As parents, we need to RAISE THE EXPECTATIONS.
I guess we could aim for our kids to love God with some of their hearts and some of their mind and some of their strength. That’d be the same as them getting some schooling or being kinda healthy, though! Oh, how our standards have lowered in this area! Did you know that back in the day, Jewish kids would memorize the first five books of the Bible before they were twelve years old?!? [Now people in the church would gladly give a teenager $5 if they could just give the names of the books.] This upcoming generation (“Time” magazine is calling our youngest adults now “kidults”) are growing up without much being expected of them. [Apparently, getting trophies for just showing up wasn't the BEST idea in the world. You were supposed to feel bad if you didn't get a blue ribbon on Field Day!] So, the question really is, “How are you going to raise the expectations?” Groeschel talked about how, amongst his six children, they each have to have a mentor and be a mentor for someone else. He posed the semi-rhetorical question, “How many 11-year-olds can mentor or 16-year-olds can write a book?” The answer: ones who are told they CAN. But are we telling our kids these things: “You CAN lead a Bible study.” ”You CAN lead a friend to Christ.” ”You CAN lead a mission trip.” Challenging stuff.
3. As parents we need to KEEP IT REAL.
Deuteronomy 6:7-9 has this undercurrent that talking about God should be NORMAL in your home. Praying for others should be NORMAL. Have we made this, as my pastor likes to say, “Abeenormal” (or as Groeschel would say, “Weird”)? We’ve got to grow up a generation of young people who don’t think that God is just a “part” of their lives– He’s everything. I love that Groeschel shared how he offers a fatherly blessing to his kids every morning before he leaves. [Wow. What a legacy that would be to Evie. I can't believe I had forgotten about that one! Glad I'm reviewing my notes!] Groeschel simply stated, “If it’s not real to you, they won’t do it.” So is prayer real to you? Is the Word real to you? Is truth real to you? Is integrity real to you? Is grace real to you? Even we ministry-types need to repent of ever putting “the work of God” ahead of His work in us.
In the words of Simon Cowell (but for totally different reasons): “The bar has officially been raised.” Imagine the end. What do you want your kid(s) to become?