We live in a busy and hectic world where the never-ending list of things to get done often crowds out other things which are really important. In Family Ministry Field Guide: How Your Church Can Equip Parents to Make Disciples, Timothy Paul Jones touches on this idea. Specifically, he describes how our focus (obsession?) on making our children happy and successful betrays our lack of perspective.
Read these good and convicting thoughts (emphasis is mine):
If children were nothing more than a gift for this life, a single-minded focus on children’s happiness and success might make sense. As long as the family’s frantic schedule secures a spot for the child in a top-tier university, forfeiting intentional spiritual formation for the sake of competitive sports leagues and advanced placement classes would be understandable—if children were a gift for this life only. Perhaps working around the clock would be plausible provided that your children’s friends are visibly impressed with the house you can barely afford. If children were a gift for this life only, maybe it would make sense to raise them with calendars that are full but souls that are empty, captives of the deadly delusion that their value depends on what they accomplish here and now.
But children are far more than a gift in this life. They are bearers of the gospel to generations yet unborn. In God’s good design, your children and mine will raise children who will in turn beget more children. How we mold our children’s souls while they reside in our households will shape the lives of children who have yet to draw their first gasp of air (Ps.78:6-7).
Your children and mine are also eternal beings whose days will long outlast the rise and fall of all the kingdoms of the earth. They and their children and their children’s children will flit ever so briefly across the face of this earth before being swept away into eternity (James 4.14). If our children become our brothers and sisters in Christ, their days upon this earth are preparatory for glory that will never end (Dan. 12:3; 2 Cor. 4:17—5:4; 2 Pet. 1:10-11). That’s why our primary purpose for these children must not be anything as small and miserable as success. Our purpose should be to leverage our children’s lives to advance God’s kingdom so that every tribe, every nation, and every people group gains the opportunity to respond in faith to the rightful King of kings.
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Jesus asked his first followers (Mark 8:36, ESV).
When it comes to our children, we might ask a similar question: What does it profit our child to gain a baseball scholarship and yet never experience consistent prayer and devotional times with us, the parents? What will it profit our child to succeed as a ballet dancer and yet never know the rhythms of a home where we are willing to release any dream at any moment if we become too busy to disciple one another? What will it profit the children all around us in our churches to be accepted into the finest colleges and yet never leverage their lives for the sake of proclaiming the gospel to the nations? What will it profit pastors to lead the largest churches with the greatest discipleship programs if they don’t disciple their own households?
There is no profit in such endeavors—no real or lasting profit, anyway—but the costs are painful, infinite, and eternal.
These are sobering thoughts, but thoughts which I think Christian parents desperately need to hear.