Parents, Your Mission Matters

The mission matters. The mission can be something like making sure that your kids get a good education. It involves the hard work of shaping them into adults who produce, serve and lead. It’s doing your best to keep them away from the worst possible things. It’s trying to be a good parent.

The mission matters.

The mission is good.

But like most good things that really matter, the mission can rob us. It can dominate us. If we’re not careful, the mission can be like a finish line that someone keeps moving further away from us. And if we do ever manage to reach it, it never ends up being worth all of the work. That’s because there is something that matters just as much as the mission.

The moment.

The mission is big. People make movies and write books about the mission. The moment is mundane. You may even think that the moment is insignificant. Like the stop for an ice cream after practice. Or the no agenda Saturdays spent together has a family with nowhere to go and no one to see. Sometimes the moments even frustrate us. Like the milk on the new carpet. Or the nightmare that wakes your kid up 45 minutes before you were supposed to wake up.

Moments matter more than you think they do. Twenty years from now, your kid might remember your mission as a parent. He will definitely remember the moments along the way.

There is no mission without the moments.

On Monday night, my wife baked a cake while I cooked burgers on the grill. There was nothing special about our meal. No one was celebrating a birthday or coming home from college. It was just another Monday night. After the burgers were eaten, my wife asked me a strange question.

“Do you want to make the cake an unbirthday cake?”

I wasn’t too sure what an unbirthday cake was but I said okay. My wife put a candle in the middle of the cake and I lit it. We called the kids in and we sang Happy Unbirthday to each other. Our kids looked at us like we had lost our minds. And then we all laughed. And ate cake.

On Monday night, we had a moment. It was a moment that didn’t seem like much at the time. But it was a moment that our kids aren’t likely to forget, even after their mom and dad really do start to lose their minds. And it was a moment that I would’ve missed if I would have skipped dinner because I was working late to earn extra money to get my kids a good education.

The mission matters. In fact, there probably aren’t enough parents who have a mission that goes beyond getting the kids out of the house before someone has an untimely pregnancy.

But the mission is meaningless if we’re not paying attention to the moments. The mission amounts to nothing if we’re not slowing down to create our own moments. The mission is a failure if we’re not turning those stressful moments of parenting into lessons for us and our kids.

Every night I pray for God to protect my sons.

I pray for him to shape them into real men.

And I thank God for that day’s moments.

Because it’s in those tiny snapshots that our kids are being shaped. It’s there that, if we slow down enough, we will see the work of God.

Parents, your mission matters.

But not without the moments.