I’m sure every Christian parent would say that godly kids are the main goal of their parenting. If you asked your teen what it means to be godly, what would be the response? It sure is hard to reach a goal if it isn’t clear — or if it seems completely unattainable. Maybe, truth be told, you just want a kid who will be more compliant, stay out of trouble, make you feel proud. A godly kid might not always do those things. So maybe we need to evaluate exactly what we’re aiming for as parents, what true godliness looks like, and how to make the goal clear for our kids.
Defining Your Parenting Goals
When you look down the road of life into the future which you hope comes to pass, what does your teen look like, as a thirtysomething adult? What’s most important to you — marital and family status, educational achievements, career path, (lack of) police record, church attendance and involvement, community service, healthy lifestyle habits, something else?
It may surprise you that none of those things are directly mentioned in Scripture as God’s goals for His children (a few are hinted at, of course). His main goals have to do with achievements and character traits not easily photographed for Facebook or included in the Christmas letter cameo. If you’re just looking for a conflict-free today and a proud-parent tomorrow, your aim needs to be adjusted.
Aiming at Too Low of a Goal
Consider the father of what’s often referred to as the Prodigal Son: He seems to have achieved such surface-level goals with his older son, but the pride and bitterness of his heart are far from godly. Instead, it’s the humble, repentant, broken heart of the former rebel that pleases the dad — and God.
It’s for that same reason the King with a far-from-perfect background is called “a man after God’s own heart.” How would you feel if David were your son? After all, he became a murder and adulterer. Would you rather have a child sin big and repent big — or one who doesn’t make waves, one way or the other, just makes your life easier and keeps your family’s reputation untainted?
Considering Those God Uses
Many of the people God used greatly to build the early church were far from compliant with the status quo, and God used their spirited personalities for His purposes. Perhaps your outspoken, passionate teen will be a Peter or a Paul, someday. It’s often easier to channel an enthusiastic person’s energy in a different direction than light a fire under someone who’s complacent. Keeping the goal in view can greatly influence how you address problematic behaviors now — and how you define “problematic.” (We’ll get into that more in Part 2.)
As you attempt to better define your parenting goals and make sure they align with God’s goals for His creation, an open mind (and Bible!) and humble heart will help you start in the right direction.