The truth as I know it:

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands. ~~~ Kristi Larson

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Raising Successful Children

I know it's been a long time since I've posted.  And I have a couple more families to highlight in ways you can give.... but my husband sent me this e-mail this morning and I thought it was too good to pass up.  I have no idea where it came from, but the author is credited to the full in the lines below, so please know these are NOT my words.  But they are my new perspective.  I find it so hard to parent children without applying the world's standard of success to them.  I find it hard not to measure myself as a parent by how much my children "shine" on the world stage.  And therein lies the lesson and the devotion in this following message for me... parenting my children is not about ME!  (I know, a lesson I'm continually learning.)  It's not about how I look or feel as a person, it's about them and steering them toward the Lord, whether that looks like a rock star or a janitor, if they are in the roles God has for them, then I have done my job as a mom.  I think Lysa says it way better than I am....

I Don't Want to Raise Successful Children

Lysa TerKeurst

 "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn
from it."

Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)


I don't want to raise successful children.  That's a shocking thing to read,
and a shocking thing for a mother to type.  So, let me clarify.

I used to define success according to my child's report card.  Good grades
and academic achievement would surely equal a good child with great
potential in this world.  But then several of my children wound up being
average students with average grades.  Though we carted them off to tutors
and spent many a late night at the kitchen table helping them, they remained
average.  And I remained concerned and frustrated.

One report card day I found myself facedown in the fibers of my carpet
crying and wondering, "Where have I gone wrong as a mom?"

I dug into Scriptures.  I begged God for wisdom and discernment.  I prayed
for God's perspective with each of my kids.  Finally, one day it dawned on
me - what if I simply chose to embrace the natural bent of each of my kids
as God's way to protect them and keep them on the path toward His best plans
for their lives?

What if my A student needs academic success to prepare her for God's plans
while my average to below-average student needs to be steered away from a
more academic future?  What if my sports star kid needs that athletic
excellence for his future assignments by God, but my benchwarmer kid is
being protected from getting off course by her lack in this area?

And that's when it finally dawned on me.  My job isn't to push success for
my kids.  My job as a parent is to recognize the unique way God created each
child and point them to Jesus at every turn along their journey toward
adulthood.  Yes, I want my kids to learn and thrive and grow up educated,
but it's not a flaw in me or them if they don't have straight A report cards
and trophy cases full of sports medals.

Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is
old he will not turn from it" (NIV).

I am challenged to ponder these words, "... in the way he should go."  Are
we training our kids that the "way he should go" is to chase worldly
achievement or to chase God?  Whatever they learn to chase as a child, they
will chase as adults.  Therefore, we must be challenged to honestly assess
the way we are pointing them to go.

My daughter, Hope, is one of my average students.  She has also warmed many
a bench in the sports she's tried, and can always be found hiding on the
back row of the stage during school concerts.  Using the world's benchmarks
for achievement, Hope wouldn't be seen as a child positioned for success.
But God...

This past January, my 15 year old Hope, shocked me when she announced she
wanted to go to Ethiopia with some missionary friends of ours and live in
the remote African bush for the summer.  Yes, she may not have trophies and
straight A report cards but she does have a heart of gold.  And because
she's not entrenched in sports and academic pursuits that could have created
obligations for her summer, she was free to go to Africa.  Free to chase God
in a really big way.

One of the first e-mails she sent me from Ethiopia read, "Mom, I've fallen
in love with the AIDS orphanage children.  They rushed at me when I held my
arms out and I tried with all my might to hold all 30 of them at once.  I 

love it here."

Now, don't get me wrong.  I do expect Hope to return to her studies this
fall, give 100% effort, and finish her high school career having done her
very best.  She will most likely then go to college.  But she probably won't
be delivering the valedictorian address or wearing the honors cords and
medals.  She'll be the one with a vision of a dying AIDS orphan pressing
against her heart ready to chase God's plans to the ends of the earth.

So back to my original statement, I don't want to raise successful children.
It's true, I don't.  Though Hope's sister coming behind her is an A student
and can always be found on the front row of school performances - we don't
chase after success for her either.  I trust God that she needs those things
in her life for the plans He's unfolding in her life.  We train with that
bent in mind.  But, we don't chase it.  Just like Hope, we point her in the
direction of God at every turn and pray like crazy.

I stand by what I said and I'll say it again, I don't want to raise
successful children.  Because--- raising God-honoring adults who will set
the world on fire for Christ is just so much more rewarding.

Dear Lord, being a mom is a really tough job.  Please help me, teach me and
show me how to define success for my kids. In Jesus' Name, Amen.


Kristine said...

In tears...thank you for sharing this. So true...makes me so proud of my little Sarah...she is the one who will surprise me one day just like this woman's daughter did.

Her teacher just told me at her school conference that she helps her too much and the other children too...that she should spend more time doing her own work, reading and taking care of do you tell a child that they are helping too much? Is that something that a mother wants her to change? I don't think so...but I did tell her that I wanted her to take more concern with her school work and to work very hard on her own work first before helping others...I am really ashamed at telling her this. Why on earth would I want to change her heart? She was baptized last Sunday and I am so proud of her. She DOES have a heart for the Lord and I need to try to encourage that more...not stifle it.

Thank you for sharing this Ondrea. I think this post was just for me today...


Lindsay said...

I *love* those last 2 lines...

lori said...

Thanks, Ondrea and Brian. I so needed to read that today and probably most moms in America need to read this. You've really touched on a nerve that we all at some time will have to deal with; Are we trying to raise our kids to be successful by the world's standards or by God's? I think I've been trying to do both and it's not working.

Craig and Phyllis said...

This was such a great post! As I struggle to be the mother to our newest sons, I often get discouraged. Some of that may be realizing that success for them may look different than it does for my older 2. I definitely want them to be men who are God-honoring!

Thanks for sharing this devotion!

Kristin said...

Wow...this was an amazing post and interesting because it's something that's been on my mind lately. Thanks for sharing!

Barb said...

That was a really great post - it instantly brought to mind a parenting book I started reading a while back, that a friend loaned to me: The Danger of Raising Nice Kids - Preparing our Children to Change Their World. The line from it that hits a chord: "Nice kids are well behaved and look good on their outside, but they often lack courageous character inside." I need to read it again before I give it back:->

Kristine said...

Ok...did you really say that you know Jars of Clay or are you pulling my leg? REALLY???? I LOVE THEM! Not like Jesus...but I really do enjoy their music.

I just saw that you have another blog...I am heading there RIGHT now.