Raising Your Kids For Greatness: Part One

I’ve been reading a few books lately and thought I might share my thoughts on some of them. For “work’ I am reading through Raising Kids For True Greatness: Redefine Success For You and Your Child. Why did I pick this book up? Because I think we focus too much on success. Now this is important: What I am not saying is that we should raise our children to be slackers. What I am saying is that we might need to refocus priorities with our family away from the idea that success is what we ultimately value.

Chapter One: The Long and Winding Road To Greatness

What is the point of raising your kids? This has become an all too real question in the last few months, and it is one that will cause me much contemplation and anguish. I hear many stories of parents who just wanted their children to have a better life than they had, with better opportunities and a hope of one day climbing the social/fiscal ladder. One reason I decided to read and discuss the book was to battle with my own thoughts on parenting (all three months of it). Tim Kimmel makes it clear though right from the start that success for our children is not to be our goal. Instead of success, “greatness” should be the goal for our children. Isn’t greatness another way of saying success? No. Success is a desire that nips at the heels of greatness. Success is settling for wanting our children to make good grades, make a honest yet desirable living, and carry a good reputation. Greatness is different from success in that:

-Success looks inward; true greatness looks upward, then outward.
-Success is about my agenda; true greatness is about God’s agenda.
-Success accommodates selfishness; true greatness celebrates altruism.
-Success is about receiving; true greatness is about giving.
-Success worships what it sees in a mirror; true greatness grieves over what it sees through its windows.
-Success pays off for now; true greatness pays off forever

Kimmel’s thesis is then this: “True greatness happens when we produce kids who have a passionate love for God that shows itself in an unquenchable love and concern for others” (5).
So how do we raise children to be great? Kimmel first looks to Jesus and Matthew 20:25-28 where He says, “Whoever wants to become great among you must serve the rest of you like a servant. Whoever wants to become first among you must serve the rest of you like a slave. In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people.” The first step in teaching our children to be great is to teach them to be servants. Sounds reasonable. But here is where we struggle:

Most parents aren’t raising their children to serve others; they’re raising their kids to be served by others (2).

What an uncomfortably true statement! It makes me wonder what culture has sunk into our psyche that perpetuates this desire for our children? What idea of greatness are we living out in our church and in our family life? Does our idea of greatness contradict the idea of being kingdom focused?
So if we are to go beyond the goal of success and challenge our children to be great, where do we start? Kimmel suggests starting with three questions, that if answered correctly will create a lasting and powerful legacy. The three questions are:

1.What is my mission in life going to be?
2. Who is my mate going to be?
3. Who is my master going to be?
Or, to put another way: What am I going to do with my life? Who will I spend my life with? Who will I live it for? (5)

How will this happen? This greatness is maximized when our children thoroughly prepare to make the best contribution possible through their gifts and skills, team their dreams with someone who multiplies their capabilities, and do everything in complete submission to the God who called them to true greatness in the first place (5). As Kimmel closes out the chapter, he challenges parents to consider where they are aiming their kids. He asks parents to:

Look at your calendar: Do you promote spending time serving others in your daily life?
Look at your checkbook: Do you promote serving in how you spend your money, or are you focusing your money on yourself?
Look at your attitude: What is it that makes you feel that you are doing a good job raising your kids?
Look at your heart: What is it that gives you joy, a sense of accomplishment, or satisfaction?
Look at your reputation: What do other people say are your priorities?

If we are honest with ourselves, we often aim our children to live life with the goal of being served and serving others. How do we change this focus? Hopefully that is what the rest of the book will focus on. What we do know is that this process will take time and effort. After all, the chapter is titled, “The Long and Winding Road to Greatness.”

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