Being a parent is no easy task. That’s not exactly rocket science, I know! Between academics, personal character, honest living, raising them to be productive, and teaching social cues, where do we even begin? The pressure can be overwhelming at times. However, I believe it all boils down to 3 important values.
I don’t care if my children are good at sports. There, I said it. This may cause some to balk. Even in my own city. In fact, we live in a sports-crazed city where it seems that nearly every child is wearing shoulder pads or shin-guards by the time they’re 5. Sometimes that brings a bit of pressure. But, I don’t feel it. Heck, there’s even a brand new youth sports complex 5 minutes from my house that’s billed as one of the best in the country. I’m not phased though.
It’s not that I’m against sports. I love football and I grew up loving and following baseball. Every Saturday you’ll find me glued to my TV rooting for THE Ohio State Buckeyes. I expect my children to be a fan of the same teams I’m a fan of! (slightly kidding). If one of my sons or daughters suddenly had a hankering to play sports, we’d let them, providing it didn’t break the bank!
If I’m honest, I also don’t care if my children are straight A students in school. Sure I want them to work hard and do well in school, and I expect them to graduate on time, but straight A’s? The top colleges knocking on my door? Doesn’t really matter to me.
Do you want to know what does matter to me when it comes to my children?
I want my children to grow up with values. But, not just any values. What I believe to be the most important values that any person can grow up knowing and applying to their life. I’m talking about something that money can’t buy, sports can’t teach, and academics can’t grade. I’m talking about love, generosity and servanthood.
By far the most important value I want my children to grow up with is a genuine love for others. Love that’s unconditional, with no strings attached. Love is powerful. Love can change the heart and it can change a person’s life.
Love brings hope to hopeless places and it brings light where there once was darkness. I pray that my children will look at all human beings with a deep respect and an unconditional love simply because they are human.
My wife and I are extremely generous people. We love to give. We believe in giving our waiters and waitresses big tips. We feel called to give to causes we believe in. It fills us up to be able to bless people who have less. We talk about this openly in front of our children. When they ask us questions about tithing to our church or sending money to a missionary we are honest and tell them why we do these things.
Life is too short to live life with a closed hand. This world tends to turn a cold, selfish shoulder to those who are less fortunate. The way to live a complete life, in our opinion, is to give most of it away. We do this publicly in front of our children because we want them to learn this value and live it out in their own lives as adults someday.
Wherever my children go in life, whoever they become, or whatever they choose to do, I want them to learn the value of serving others. I hope and pray they choose to use some of their free time to serve whole-heartedly.
One of the biggest blessings of no longer working full time at a church is that we have a lot of time to do this on a regular basis.
But, What About….?
I know what some of you are thinking. What about integrity, honest living, social productivity, character, etc etc etc.?
Do you want to know something else I firmly believe about love, generosity and servanthood? They’re umbrellas. That’s right, umbrellas. What I mean by this, is that if my children can learn these 3 values, and really apply them to their lives, they cover the rest. Another way to look at it is that living by love, generosity, and servanthood causes integrity, honesty and productivity to fall into place in one’s life.
In fact, I don’t think a person can really love others and be a person who lives without integrity. I don’t think dishonesty can exist if a person is really generous. You may disagree with me, but at the very heart of love, servanthood and giving there’s integrity, honesty and right living. These three important values breed strong character.
It All Comes Down To This.
At the end of the day I don’t care about my children’s life accomplishments. I mean, I do and I will be proud of each of them. I’m already more proud than I could ever be of each of my children. But what I will be proudest of, is their genuine heart for others. I pray they grow up to have hearts of generosity and hearts for serving others. In a lot of ways, they already have both and it’s so encouraging to us.
I’ve ended posts like this before by pointing this all back to me. This post is no different. If I expect my children to grow up to love others unconditionally, give extravagantly, and serve with all of their hearts, I’ve got to model all of this in my own life. They will learn from me, and my wife. The world teaches the opposite. We have to teach these values to them.
It’s pressure for sure, but I don’t mind this because it’s good for me personally. We are both far from perfect when it comes to these three values but we continually believe in their transforming power. What about you?
Question: What are you teaching your children? What do you need to start teaching them? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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