“But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.”
take God seriously.”
Micah 6:8 (The Message)
When my husband and I first decided to tackle parenthood, we were both completely idealistic… and totally naïve, which isn’t exactly a winning combination. But, through God’s grace, we have made it this far… battered and bruised (and incredibly tired), but, nonetheless, we’re hanging in there. Yet, after 11 years of parenthood, and more importantly, after 11 years of pursuing Jesus, we’ve seen an amazing transformation in our desires, our hopes and our dreams for our children.
A little over 10 years ago, with only one child in tow, I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. At the age of one, I had my eldest child in EVERYTHING imaginable: gymnastics, art, music, swimming, dance, weekly museum visits, and an endless supply of play dates. It was enough to drive a person mad… and it just about did. I was completely overwhelmed with the expectations of being a “good parent.” I remember talking to other moms about getting my daughter into one of the best preschools... and being horrified when I found out that some of them had a three year waitlist, which meant I needed to pick a preschool before I even had a baby!
In the days that followed this revelation, I began to fall for all of Satan’s lies: If my children don’t go to the right preschool, then they won’t get into the best grammar school, which OBVIOUSLY means they won’t go to the best college; if they don’t play little league at the earliest age and continue to play for every available team until the end of high school, then they will NEVER get a scholarship; if I don’t steer my children into math and science, they will never find a good paying job that will provide them with the life they need (which, of course, includes vacation time, a 401k and a sizable retirement package.) Do you see where this is going? I allowed the world to shape my definition of success; to map out the course… an incredibly ridiculous course that would keep me and my family so distracted with life and worldly achievements that I would never have the time or the energy to set my eyes and my heart on the one thing that matters.
Now, please don’t get me wrong, none of these things are inherently “bad” (school, sports, extracurricular activities). In fact, I would even argue that they serve an amazing purpose. They allow our families to shine a bright light in a broken world. However, I recently listened to a sermon that shared a completely different perspective, one that truly challenged me. The pastor said there’s nothing wrong with all these activities, as long as we’re giving God equal time… more than equal time. We have to make God our number one priority. He then went on to say that if we have our kids spending more time doing other things, then we’re teaching them to prioritize those things over God.
I thought of all my children’s activities, hours worth every week. Then, I thought about how much time they spend with Jesus (reading the Bible, devotionals, praying, going to church). At first, I must admit that I was a little nervous. But, then God brought Micah 6:8 to my mind. (If our family had a life verse, this would be it.) In His mercy, He reminded me that “scheduling” Jesus… like any other activity in our lives… isn’t really the point. Jesus wants to be involved in EVERY aspect. As parents, it's our job to make sure we teach our children how to incorporate Jesus into every part of our lives; how to follow Him at every turn; how to depend on Him when times are tough; how to praise Him when they’re not. Ten years ago, if you asked me what I wanted for my children when they were old enough to leave the house, I would have said that I wanted them to be prepared to go to college and be able to stand on their own two feet. If you asked me that same question now, the answer would be completely different. Now, I want my children to know how to lean on Jesus; to trust Him completely; to love Him unconditionally; and. to follow Him wherever He shall lead.
Spend some time thinking about the desires and expectations you may have for your children. If you don’t have children, think about the expectations you have for yourself. Were they cultivated by the world, or by Jesus? Look at your week… or maybe just start with a day. Are you fitting Jesus in (scheduled quiet times or Bible reading) or do you acknowledge His inclusion throughout the day? If it’s the former, ask Jesus to help make you aware of times throughout your day where you can invite Him to join you in experiencing life… together.