Every Child Has Two Options

25914562001_9d3d53abfe_o

Your kids will be known for something. Basically, they have two options. They can either be known for who they once were or who they are becoming.

If you put all of your parental efforts into making sure that you kid becomes a great student or athlete or musician, there is a chance that you’ll get what you worked for. But there will come a time when your kid will be known simply for who he used to be. The fourth grader who could hit a baseball harder than most high schoolers. The really good math student. The great piano player. While these accomplishments are certainly noteworthy, they aren’t enough.

Take Jake Lloyd for example.

You probably don’t recognize that name. A while back, Jake was arrested after leading police on a high speed chase. Earlier this week he was moved from prison to a psychiatric facility. He’s mother says that things are finally looking up.

Things weren’t always this way for Jake. In 1999 he played a young and innocent Darth Vader in the first of three new Star Wars movies. The movie made $2 billion. Some of that money went to Jake Lloyd. He had every young boys dream. A lot of money and a major role in a Star Wars movie.

But when we talk about Jake Lloyd today, we don’t say much about who he is becoming. We talk about who he used to be.

There is no accomplishment in this world that is worth the pain of simply being known for who you used to be.

In speaking to a group of suffering believers in the context of church leadership, the Apostle Peter helps to shift our attention away from the used to be and toward the becoming. The challenge he gives us in 1 Peter 5 is exactly the opposite of what many kids are told today, whether directly or indirectly, by parents, teachers and peers. If you want your kid to be known only for who she used to be, listen to the world’s advice. If you care more about the person she is becoming, follow the words of Peter.

The world tells your son to follow his heart. The Bible tells him to humble himself and follow God.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you. 1 Peter 5:6 (ESV)

Teach your kid to follow his heart and he’ll grow up to be arrogant, in debt, sick, imprisoned, addicted and miserable. The heart is evil. It’s the last thing any of us should follow. If you care more about who your child is becoming, teach him to humble himself and submit to God in all things.

The world provides quick fixes for anxiety. The Bible invites us into a process of continually casting our concerns on the One who made us. 

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (ESV)

They make a pill that can help you daughter quit feeling so anxious. But that pill only addresses the feeling. It does nothing to address the source. When we cast our anxieties on Christ, we are giving him everything that we have. We are trusting that, even if our anxieties keep popping up, there is a Savior there to walk with us through them. And he doesn’t walk with us coldly or mechanically. He walks with us because he cares for us. If all you’re after is immediate success for your kids, teach them to mask their anxieties. But if it’s long term faithfulness that you’re after, teach them to make anxiety the check engine light of their soul that reminds them that they are cared for by a sovereign God who is big enough to handle what makes them worry.

The world teaches your kids to keep an open mind. The Bible tells them that there are some things worth closing their minds on. 

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9 (ESV)

G.K. Chesterton said it best. “Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.” If your son walked around school all day with his mouth wide open, not wanting to miss whatever flavors were around him, you would seek medical help for him. But for some reason, it’s okay for him to do the same thing with his mind.

One of the primary ways that Satan will attack your children is through their belief system. Just as he did in the Garden of Eden, he’ll come at them with his usual tactic of, “Did God really say that?” And if all you’ve given your kids is an open mind, they’ll take the bait every time. It doesn’t have to be that way. They can resist. But their resistance doesn’t come through a crucifix or holy water. It comes through a faith that is firm and a mind that is fixed. If you have any concern at all about the faith your child will have when she becomes an adult, do everything you can to train her in what the Bible says and help her to make her faith her own. If all she has to stand against the devil’s schemes is the faith of her parents and grandparents, she will be devoured. Her faith must be her faith.

Finally, the world encourages kids to avoid hardship at all costs. The Bible teaches us that we’d all be dead without hardship. 

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)

The road of discipleship is a difficult one. There are sacrifices to be made and friends and loved ones who will abandon you. Discipleship can be painful. Success, while often requiring hard work, doesn’t work that way. Like water, it seeks the easiest way in or out, regardless of what damage may be done.

If you take the time to teach your kids what it means to follow Jesus and they follow your guidance, they will get hurt. There will be times of suffering. There will be pain. But this is momentary. The eternal glory of Christ awaits and it is much better than the fading glory of who they once were.

There are two options for your children.

They can either be known for who they once were or who they are becoming.

Which will it be?

image credit