What I Thought I was Teaching My Kids

If I made a list of character traits I hope we’ve instilled in our kids by the time they’re eighteen (at least the foundation of these traits), it would look something like this:

Wise, Loving, Graceful, Creative, Joyful.

All admirable things to pray for and work toward, right?  That’s what I thought, until this week.

I thought I wanted to teach my kids to “make good choices” and avoid some of the crap I’ve been through from my own sin or the sin of someone near me.

I thought I wanted to teach my kids what it means to love other people well and live for a purpose beyond their own needs and wants.

I thought I wanted to teach my kids they are and will always can be creative, to prevent that from being taken from them, and to watch them use their gifts to the glory of God.

I thought I wanted to teach my kids to know joy-not a just a life of seeking happiness, the shallowest (and most easily lost) form of joy.  Joy in the small moments.  Joy in the imperfect, messy moments.  Joy that originates and ends in the knowledge of the Lord God, the creator of heaven and earth.

I do want all of those things.  But I don’t think it’s the Lord’s goal to make them feel like “pretty good Christians”.

One day when they’re 34, like me, they might get one heck of a reminder of their sinfulness (pretty much a guarantee, right?).  It will come along right when they are feeling a bit wise, a bit removed from their old self, and the reminder might not even be because of something they’ve done.

But no matter what, they will be stunned, probably angry at the interruption to what they viewed as their growth and maturity.

Later, by the grace of God, they might look beneath the anger and realize they’re angry because they’ve turned being wise and “a pretty good Christian” into an idol, and someone just messed with their idol.

And from it, like me, they might realize that all of their wisdom, love, grace and joy is completely imperfect and forever will be until the very end.  When that happens I hope they already know that all they really need to is to desperately know their need for the Lord. And accept that they’ll need Him forever.  And to have their hope in Him, only Him, and not in their own anything.

Then, like me, they can stumble along, a little stunned, but also thankful for the reminder.  Thankful beyond words.  For it was his His love that brought the reminder.

So I take another look at my list.  And think about what I can say to them when they are not 34, but still measuring below my chin.

I can say, “Do better, do better.  Get it right.  Make better choices.  Be wiser.  Stop loving so imperfectly.  Don’t mess up so much.”


I can say, “Grace to you.  It’s okay.  Call to the Lord.   You need him.  You’ll always need him.  Don’t try to stop needing him. You’re not trying to get it perfect.  You can’t get it perfect. So receive love and grace instead.  Let Him do His work. And you-you hope.”

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you my overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

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