How can I love my children and make a lasting impact on their lives?
In 2011, our last child was nearing high school age. We made the decision for me to go back to work. My goal was to write a book. Publishing changed tremendously over two decades so I had a ton to learn. A plan was in order. I decided that each day I would sit down at my desk and:
- Read about the new rules of publishing
- Read and do practice exercises from a writing craft book
- Write some on my book
I call a plan like this goal setting.
However, the endgame of writing a book is for people to buy it. I call actual sales the target.
Targets are things we hope for, wish for, but are out of our control.
Goals are tasks we can accomplish that lead us toward the target.
Selling books was my target. Writing the book and making a plan to market it are both goal setting tasks, within my capabilities. Actual sales are the target, not within my ability to ensure.
The same is true with our children.
God tells me to train up my child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.
The Target: My child becomes an adult who loves and serves the Lord for His glory and the fullness of his joy. Two things are at work in this admonition from the Lord. My heart and the heart of my child. I have absolutely no control over the heart of my child. I do have a choice whether I make attempts to train him or not.
The Goal: This is where I make decisions about tasks I can engage that have the potential to lead my child to an understanding about who God is and who he says his people are.
10 ways I can live my life that have the potential to impact my children positively. Please add more to the list in the comment section.
- Love my child. Get into his world. See life from his perspective.
- Listen to him. Build him up according to his interests and gifts.
- Maintain a willingness to admit when I am wrong. Forgive others when they wrong me.
- Read and talk about the Bible and other stories with him.
- Pray for God to accomplish the target. (Goals that can be set here are really fun to explore, but that’s a different post.)
- Find my own joy in the person of Jesus Christ.
- Serve and enjoy the people in my life.
- Attend worship with an excitement to be there.
- Cry with those who are crying
- Laugh with those who are laughing.
I Corinthians 13 and Romans 12 have a whole list of ways that I can practice living in front of my children in hopes that I will impact them for good.
Regarding the creation of a parenting strategy, these things are within my control. I can make decisions about tasks. I reach for them in an effort to know and love God more. I propose that the vertical aim in our own relationship impacts our children to a greater degree than focused directives aimed at changing their behavior. (Note: mothers of little ones, I am not talking about their need to be taught right from wrong.)
The best part.
I can do these things with a light hearted sense of freedom that the results do not depend upon me. I can find peace that I don’t have to do these things perfectly for the job to get done. The outcome isn’t my responsibility. Making the effort is. Aiming at targets and setting goals allows me to throw perfection out the window. When I expect this of myself, I usually just quit. How’s that going to impact my children?
The light hearted freedom is appealing to our children and others. It is a way of life where the burden is carried by Jesus. He makes the yolk easy and the burden light.
Whether my children become adults who love God or not isn’t within my control. Therefore, the outcome is a target, a hope of mine. I find it much easier to lay them in the arms of Jesus than to rely upon my strength and ability to get them there.
How do you live a life of grace that impacts future generations?