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RAISING KIDS FOR TRUE GREATNESSredefine success for you and your child
By TIM KIMMEL
W Publishing GroupCopyright © 2007 Tim Kimmel
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE LONG AND WINDING ROAD TO GREATNESS
Many parents are so busy preparing their children for success that they miss the chance to equip them to do something truly extraordinary. Somewhere along the way, they've taken a wrong turn in their thinking and are pointing their children toward misdirected goals.
According to most parents, a child's success starts with a good education. So they become preoccupied with their child's grades, class placement, cumulative GPA, and SAT scores. They make this a high priority-for many, the highest-because they think that a good education is the best way for their children to obtain a prestigious career-another way of saying, a job that pays well.
Why do parents want their children to make a lot of money? So they can live in attractive homes in a safe part of town and have an enviable lifestyle. And while they're at it, maybe their respectable jobs will help them find spouses who look good in the Christmas pictures, and then they can bring home lots of cute grandchildren for Grandma and Grandpa to enjoy.
If all goes according to plan, these parents reason, their children will achieve the kind of success that enables them to enjoy an adult life of comfort and endless personal opportunities.
Well paid, well supplied, well known, and well received-these are the standard characteristics of a successful life. Parents whose children achieve these goals often experience an overwhelming sense of relief: "I did it. I handed my kids a powerful gift. I helped them achieve success."
God Has Bigger and Better Plans for Our Kids
Question: where in the Bible does it say that we are supposed to aim our kids at these priorities for success? If anything, these run counter to what the Bible encourages us to pursue. Wealth, fame, and comfort can be nice additions that our children might gain by default on their way to a great life. But we find ourselves on biblical thin ice if we make them the targets at which we are aiming our kids.
Jesus weighed in on this subject, and His observation might surprise you. Here's what He had to say about what it means to be truly great:
You know that the rulers of the non-Jewish people love to show their power over the people. And their important leaders love to use all their authority. But it should not be that way among you. Whoever wants to become great among you must serve the rest of you like a servant. Whoever wants to become first among you must serve the rest of you like a slave. In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people. (Matthew 20:25-28 NCV, emphasis added)
According to Jesus, if we want our kids to be truly great, we must first teach them to be servants. But let's face it: most parents aren't raising their children to serve others; they're raising their kids to be served by others. Their success mantra rings hollow: "Be first! Own the best! Be the boss! Don't let anyone get in your way! It's all compare, compete, and control!"
But this materialistic view of success finds no home in the heart of God. God has much bigger and better plans for our children than merely indulging them. He has called our children to a much higher set of goals than what this world has to offer.
God's goals for our children often run counter to the default mode of the human heart-especially a heart that has built its hope on the Carpenter from Galilee. That's why God has put parents into the equation. We offer the best means to help our children make true greatness the ultimate goal of their lives.
Parenting on Purpose
I can think of three compelling reasons to avoid the trap of aiming your kids toward a life of success.
First, they never get to have the significant impact that God intended for them. God has gifted them and wants to use their experiences and relationships to do something that is beyond quantification. They may still have prestigious careers, but they'll carry out their work for a much better reason than what's in it for them.
Second, the pursuit of man-made success often brings out the worst in both parents and children. Many kids who are aimed at success struggle with antagonism or indifference toward their parents' dreams for them.
The third reason you want to avoid the success trap is that you really undermine the chance for your kids to gain the kind of wealth and extravagance God intended for them to enjoy ... in heaven.
God would like to build your children a mansion that is the logical extension of their faithfulness here on earth. If you've visited the Rocky Mountains or gazed over the edge of the Grand Canyon, you know that God is a superb architect. And if you've peeked at a sunset lately, you realize that God has a good eye for color. It makes so much more sense to raise your kids to live faithful and effective lives on earth and then leave the breadth of their success up to God. Eventually, He can create a far more "successful" future-even a forever future-than the best-laid human plans ever could.
The Trinity of True Greatness
True greatness takes on a life of its own when it is applied to the three biggest challenges our children must face. For the record, there are three primary questions your children need to answer in order to enjoy an effective adult life. If they answer these three questions correctly, they will be able to leave a powerful and lasting legacy for many generations to come:
1. What is my mission in life going to be? 2. Who is my mate going to be? 3. Who is my master going to be?
Put another way: What am I going to do with my life? Who will I spend my life with? Who will I live it for?
Here's what makes aiming your children at true greatness so compelling: their ability to answer these three questions properly almost becomes a foregone conclusion. When you're consistently pointing your kids toward greatness, it's difficult for them to mess up these three profound dimensions of their lives.
As we have said, true greatness happens when we produce kids who have a passionate love for God that shows itself in an unquenchable love and concern for others. This greatness is maximized when our children thoroughly prepare to make the best contribution possible through their gifts and skills, team their dreams with someone who multiplies their capabilities, and do everything in complete submission to the God who called them to true greatness in the first place.
And oftentimes, we can embed the priorities of true greatness into the DNA of our children's character without having to formally teach them how to do it. We simply have to show our kids what true greatness looks like with our lives.
WHERE ARE YOU AIMING YOUR KIDS?
1. Look at your calendar. How much of your time do you spend nurturing an "others-oriented" attitude in your children?
2. Look at your checkbook. How much of your resources are going to serving others rather than yourselves?
3. Look at your attitude. What makes you feel like you are doing a good job at raising your kids?
4. Look at your heart. What are the things that bring joy and satisfaction to you and to your family?
5. Look at your reputation. How would your friends, coworkers, teachers, and neighbors characterize your priorities?
You see, as parents, we play the greatest role in how our children answer these questions. Either we put them on the freeway to success, or we point them toward the long and winding road that leads to true greatness.
There aren't many parents willing to take on this challenge. It's too bad, because raising kids for greatness has more immediate as well as long-term benefits for Mom and Dad than raising them merely for successfulness. Among other things, greatness goals improve the way your children view you, treat you, and blend into the dynamic of your family.
Because the freeway to success is easier to quantify and requires far less from the parents from a faith perspective, many parents prefer to take the shortcut. And let's face it: success does offer some nice amenities for your kids, if you're willing to confine their rewards to the narrow options of what earth has to offer. But it's best to keep in perspective that the greatest rewards that earth has to offer pale in comparison to the minimum that a life of true greatness has to give.
On top of that, it's hard to send kids down a path you aren't willing to take yourself. In most cases, this is the main reason parents are satisfied with the mediocrity of success when it comes to their children's future. However, we should keep in mind that regardless of how rugged the path to greatness may look, our kids would rather we show them the way than merely point them in the general direction.
Should you choose to be their tour guide on the long and winding road to true greatness, you'll find that you have more help than you ever imagined along the way. The Author and Sustainer of true greatness will be with you. He'll be glad to whisper in your ear and place His nail-scarred hand on your shoulder anytime you need a nudge in the right direction.
True greatness is the only legitimate choice when it comes to preparing your kids for their adult lives. As C. S. Lewis wisely pointed out, "Aim at heaven, and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth, and you get neither." God wants to give your children a life that can't be measured by space or confined by time.
In the pages that follow, I will show you how you can prepare your children for a life of extraordinary greatness.
And guess what? If you give your kids the gift of true greatness, God will often throw in earthly success ... for free.
Ten Ways to Be a Great Member of the Family 1. Everybody helps everybody ... always, in whatever ways are needed. 2. Be upbeat, positive, and encouraging. 3. Remember, "please" and "thank you" are not just good manners; they're the calling cards of a grateful heart. 4. Have a lot of fun, just not at the expense of anyone else. 5. Each week, do your best to eat as many meals as possible together as a family. You'll cut the chance of your kids using tobacco and drugs in half and double the chances they'll bring home A's on their report cards! 6. Respect one another's space and stuff. Ask, and it most likely will be given unto you. 7. Guard family traditions, and do your best to celebrate all birthdays, holidays, and major milestones. 8. Guard the morals and integrity of everyone around you. Be sensitive about how you communicate, what you view, and whom you bring into the family circle. 9. Be quick to rally around a family member who is down, whether it's a result of sickness, injury, failure, rejection, or discouragement. 10. Assume that the Lord Jesus is an ex officio participant in every detail of your family. Make sure He always feels at home and comfortable with what's going on.
Excerpted from RAISING KIDS FOR TRUE GREATNESS by TIM KIMMEL Copyright © 2007 by Tim Kimmel. Excerpted by permission.
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