EDITOR’S NOTE: Visit “WorldView Conversation,” the blog related to this column, at http://worldviewconversation.blogspot.com/. Listen to an audio version at http://media1.imbresources.org/files/104/10408/10408-55553.mp3.
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–A father who lives down the street from me turned his small backyard into a state-of-the-art batting cage, complete with a high-velocity pitching machine, when his son was in elementary school.
The son practiced hitting for hours every day. He played high school baseball. Now he’s playing college ball. Just what Pop wanted.
I hope it’s what his son wanted.
We’ve all seen sports dads, stage moms and other victims of a condition I call “Hyperactive Parent Syndrome” living out their dreams through their kids. Maybe we’ve even been one of them.
We do it because we love our children, right? We’re involved in their lives because we care. We want to encourage them to develop their gifts and talents.
Involvement and encouragement are great. Manipulation isn’t.
I’m thinking about the difference a lot these days while trying to help my senior high kids find the right college.
What is the point of going to college in the first place? To study the best our civilization has to offer, according to the classical ideal? To gain the knowledge and skills to launch a career? To earn more money?
Or to serve God with all one’s mind?
“What are your goals?” asks C.J. Mahaney, editor of Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World (Crossway, 2008). “Do they move you forward — to financial security, more friends, successful kids, a certain position at work, learning a craft or trade? Or do they drive you upward — to obeying and glorifying God above all else?”
There’s nothing wrong with helping a young person prepare to earn a living. But there’s more to life than earning a living, even in hard economic times. That’s what Jesus meant when He said we do not live by bread alone, but by the words of God.
We cannot force our children to serve the Lord. Neither should we unwittingly push them toward worldliness and materialism with the best intentions of helping them achieve “success” as defined by the world. Rather, we should model lives of love and service — and invite our children to join us in the great task of sharing the Gospel with lost and suffering people everywhere.
There’s plenty of data indicating they’re open to the invitation.
Pollster John Zogby has renamed the so-called Millennials (18 to 29 year old Americans) the “First Globals.” They are “the most outward-looking and accepting generation in American history,” Zogby reports. “First Globals are also the most cosmopolitan age group in America, the most international, and the one most concerned about the environment and human rights.”
By and large, they’re comfortable with the different skin colors, cultures and languages they encounter every day. A fourth of them expect to live outside America at some point in their lives.
They sound like potential missionaries to me.
If your children fall into this age group or mindset, why not show them the unprecedented opportunities they have — not just to pursue a career, but to pursue the glory of God among the nations?
Erich Bridges is global correspondent for the International Mission Board (imb.org).