Stop Raising Kids

If there would have been a vote at my house yesterday morning for Greatest Dad Ever, I would have been passed over by the selection committee.  Thanks for trying.  Maybe next year.

My kids needed me and I wasn’t there for them.

I was an absentee father.

I bailed on my two precious young sons.

Looking back, I have no regrets.

It all started with a Lego.  Doesn’t it always?  I spent a few minutes building with my sons before it was time to make breakfast.  When I got up to go into the kitchen I suddenly became the most wanted man in the county.

“Dad, he’s putting Wolverine’s hair on Superman!”

“Dad, he won’t help me look for one of those long pieces.”

“Dad, can you put this on for me?”

“Dad, how do you build that molotof cocktail again?”

Made that last one up.

I left the kitchen and told my boys that I couldn’t help them.  They were going to have to figure things out on their own because I was making breakfast.

The tears flowed like waterfalls.

I didn’t walk away from my kids that day because I was too busy.  I walked away from them because I was trying to teach them a valuable lesson.  I was preparing them for manhood and there are some manhood lessons that can’t be learned from a book or even from the best of fathers.  They can only be learned away from adult supervision.

As the father of two boys I have been given a divine mandate and it has nothing to do with raising kids.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.

Have you ever thought about that phrase, raising kids?  It implies that after the work of raising is done the finished product is still a kid.  The only difference is that instead of crawling around in diapers the kid is shaving, driving an expensive truck and even has kids of his own.

I have failed as a father if, twenty years from now, I’m talking about the kids that I raised.

Jesus gives fathers a higher task than merely raising kids.  He has commanded us to make disciples.

If you’ve grown up in the church, you probably think about world missions when you hear the Great Commission in Matthew 28.  This is good but we miss the point of the passage if we confine Jesus’ words to overseas ministry.  When Jesus left his followers with the command to make disciples and teach them everything they learned from him, he had in mind the unreached tribe in South America as well as the slobbering diaper consumer in your living room.

Jesus wants us to stop raising kids and start training up disciples.

Raising kids has left us with generations of grown kids that are overprotected and underprepared for the challenges of adulthood.

Making disciples means teaching kids to take calculated risks in hopes that one day they will take great risks for the spread of the gospel.

Raising kids means always being there for your kid, even when your kid is 35 and doesn’t seem to care too much about finding a job.  They’re so cute at that age, aren’t they?

Making disciples means, as Tim Elmore points out in his book Artificial Maturity, training your children to gradually reduce their need for you while at the same time increasing your influence over them.

Raising kids means raising consumers.

Making disciples means training up servants.

Raising kids means that you’ll do anything to win that Greatest Dad Ever Award every single day.

Making disciples involves a vision that goes beyond the walls of your home and into eternity.

Yesterday when I came home for lunch I saw something better than the Greatest Dad Ever Award.

One of my sons was doing laundry.

I stood for a second and watched his small hand close the dryer door before he moved a chair over so he could climb up and hit the start button.

He was doing this all by himself.

No adult supervision.

Ever so slowly, becoming a man.

A disciple in training.