Driving Our Kids
When historians look back at parents of the 20th Century, they’ll see moms and dads obsessed with their financial security, chasing the American dream.
When historians research families of the new millennium, they’ll see parents obsessed with their kids’ success, chasing their children!
One thing is certain of this generation’s parenting, we care about our kids. We show our care by signing them up for soccer or piano, or both, at age five–in addition to swimming lessons and gymnastics.
As they grow older, it’s one more practice, one more game, one more tryout, one more camp, one more recital, one more test. We convince them that all the registration fees, uniforms, equipment purchases, private coaching, doctor visits and out of town trips are for them…
But we’re really doing it for us.
Our children will chase after these activities because they know it matters to us. We trick ourselves into thinking they’re in charge of their goals, but really we are. We might even guilt them by telling them they should use their gifts to glorify God. But who are we kidding?
Driving to please
Naturally, children want to please their parents. So while they’re still in our homes, they’ll do what we value or consider important. (They are amazingly attuned to the unspoken values we demonstrate!) And there we are with our video cameras and phones, ready to post their achievements to the world–to make us feel good.
As they enter high school, we drive them more–to try out for club soccer, to lessons, and ACT/SAT prep.
We enroll them in college and then we chase them on weekends, wear their college jerseys and post pictures on Facebook to remind everyone how well they’re doing at life.
The American Dream has been replaced with the American Family Idolatry.
When it comes to our children’s spiritual growth, we’re often less ambitious. That’s not to say we won’t drive them to church, youth events, and summer church camp, or even write the check to send them on a mission trip. (Because it will be good for them, right?)
When they return, they will likely have been encouraged by their youth leader, “Be sure to read your Bible and have quiet time with God.”
But that’s difficult, because as soon as they’re back in our possession, they’re back on the performance treadmill with us, doing things that mostly don’t matter.
Driving or inspiring?
So what are we doing as parents to inspire our children treasure God’s word? Is there anything as important as growing in God’s truth? Most of us would say, no.
The problem is, our allotment of time, energy, and conversation says otherwise. This is often the case in my house. Guilty.
We care about their grades and their ACT scores. But do we care how well they grasp basic doctrines?
We take them on college visits to scout out a place to spend the next four years. But how well do they understand the basic theology of heaven?
You’ve likely heard about the trend of young people walking away from the faith. Research shows as many as 60-80% of youth are walking away from the faith of their parents.
Sure, a tiny percentage of walk-aways are doing so out of rebellion or hostility toward the faith. But for the majority, it’s simply a case of apathy.
They’re bored with the Christian faith. And they have been all their lives.
We’re losing kids because we’re setting such low standards for their faith. As a result, their faith has little cost, little value, and little meaning. And they are never inspired to grow deeper.
You notice during holidays when the adults and the older kids are playing a board game at the dining room table? The younger ones are often bored, hanging around at your feet. Once children are old enough to learn the game and play along, engagement replaces boredom and they become participants.
In the case of faith, we’re simply not bringing kids to the table.
The driver’s seat
Often, when we examine the problem of children drifting from the faith, we blame others. The church should do better. The youth leader has too many pizza parties and not enough Bible studies.
The problem is us. But there’s a solution, or a path we can follow.
Am I, as parent, placing priority on God’s Word in my home? Do I lead my family to know the Bible. To treasure it’s truths? To crave knowledge and understanding as much as anything else? And more important than leading my family, am I leading myself?
Before we challenge our kids, we must challenge ourselves.
If you have a household of youth, a reset is not optional. It’s mandatory for my house. It starts with me.
And here’s what your family needs: You… reading your Bible.
Notice I didn’t say study the Bible. And I didn’t say teach the Bible or lead dinnertime devotions. (You’re welcome!) These ideas are great, but sometimes we just need a return to the basics. A jump-start for our souls, like jumping a car battery.
Last year, a friend of mine challenged me to read the Bible in 30 days. I’d never considered such an idea. (Another example of low expectations, right?) I did it and found the read amazingly doable. Since then I’ve challenged others, including the teens I coach, to set meaningful Bible-reading goals.
1) Grab your Bible right now. Dig in. It’s that simple. Trust that good things will happen in you, and through you.
2) I’m leading folks in a 60-day Bible-reading effort called #ReadTheBook2017. Join us by signing up here for brief – and helpful – daily email encouragements.