Summary: If you approach the Bible as a book that you have to read, a bunch of rules that you have to memorize, then that is how your kids will approach it, too.
I read a story recently about three ladies who were sitting around and bragging about their children. The first one said, "You know my son, he graduated first in his class from Stanford, he’s now a doctor making $250,000 a year in Chicago."
The second woman said, "You know my son, he graduated first in his class from Harvard, he’s now a lawyer making half a million dollars a year and he lives in Los Angeles."
The last woman said, "You know my son, he never did too well in school, he never went to any university but he now makes 1 million dollars a year in New York working as a sports repairman."
The other two women ask "What is a sports repairman?"
She replied, "He fixes hockey games, football games, baseball games..."
Obviously parents want their kids to succeed. We want our kids to grow up to be responsible self-sufficient adults who are capable of taking care of themselves. I jokingly tell my kids all the time that I don’t have a retirement plan because they are my retirement plan. We want our kids to be successful. And this desire we have as parents raises a question. What is success? How do I measure success as a parent? The answer you have for this question this morning is the evidence of how you are raising your kids.
Think about this way. If you want your kids to be comfortable in life, to make enough money that they don’t have to worry about paying bills, or worrying about their future, you will more than likely emphasize a quality education. You want your kids to get good grades, and the reason you tell your kids they need to get good grades is so that they’ll have a comfortable life. So they won’t suffer from a lack of income when they’re raising their family. So then when your kids get good grades you reward them, when they graduate from high school and go to a prestigious school you’re very proud, and you might even push them to consider law, medicine, business or some other career that will provide a comfortable income. If you participated in the not a fan small group, Eric’s dad, Bill would be the poster dad for this measure of success. The quote in the movie that gave me the impression he feels like a failure as a dad, is when Bill says to Eric, “I didn’t raise you and spend all that money on your education, just so you could throw it all away.”
Or maybe you have other priorities as parents. Maybe the most important thing for you is for your kids to be happy. So you give them stuff and you feel good when you give to your kids. You say something like, “I just want my kids to have things I couldn’t have when I was their age.” You feel good as a parent when your kids are happy. When they go to school you want them to get good grades, but, the more important value to you might be that they enjoy their school experience. So if they want to try extra-curricular activities you do everything you can to make sure they enjoy as much as possible. When they are old enough to talk about a career you stress that they consider a job they will enjoy doing. And if your kids seem well adjusted and happy as adults you feel good as a parent, because this is how you measure success.
These are just a couple of examples of how parents will make decisions, how they will spend money, how they will structure their family life based on how they want their kids to live, behave and function as adults.
But what if we measured our success as parents not by how much money they might make, or how educated they will be, or even by how happy they are. What if we considered the ultimate success as our children living out lives as sold out followers of Jesus. What if everything we did as parents, the money we spent, the time we invested, the way we structured our family life was for this one purpose. To raise kids who are more in love with Jesus than they are with anything else.
I think it's important to first point out that this isn't about how to raise your kids. I don't think that I'm a perfect parent. And I don't want to tell someone else how to raise their children. There are three things that preachers are always intimidated to talk about. Sex, money, and raising kids. Because these things are deeply personal and intimate we don't like other people sticking their nose in what we consider our business. So, I want to be sensitive to that, so don't consider that I'm getting nosy, or pushy or telling you what to do, because this is not my intent.