Monday, October 18, 2010

A is not for Achievement

Like every "good parent", I want my kids to be successful. I would like them to go to college and make good money so they can put me in a nice nursing home. I make them do homework, read, practice their instruments and practice their sports. It makes me proud when they come home with good grades. I was glad when they were the first to walk or talk or be potty trained. Isn’t that what’s important? Well, the Bible says it’s the heart that’s important. And our actions and words are an outpouring of what is in our heart.

Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:44-45

We have one child that is a natural student. This child loves to learn and read and still comes home with “Fabulous” written on his papers. Mainly because he has a great teacher that is really invested in her job. So naturally, we are proud of him.

We have another child that is a natural athlete. She loves to play sports and she is good at it. It’s fun to go to games and watch her play. Obviously, we are proud of her too.

We have another child that is different. She is a nurturer and very social. She spends hours taking care of her Barbies and her sisters and especially her new puppy.

She is a fine student and a good athlete. She is just not as driven in academic and athletic pursuits as some of the others. She has other gifts. Those gifts are good. Those gifts are from God. But they are not as easy to point at and say we’re proud. There aren’t papers or trophies announcing her nurturing heart.

It’s easy to say I would never focus on outward appearances, but it is very easy to make education, achievement and success my god. It’s tempting to focus so much on grades and being the best basketball player that we forget about the heart.

My son is growing into the middle school years. I am a little bit unsure about puberty, sports, fitting in and all the other stuff that goes along with that age. Actually, I'm terrified. Does anyone really have fond memories of those years? I don’t think so. My worries came to a dead stand still yesterday. I wasn’t worried about grades or friends or athletic ability, I was just thankful for the work of God in our hearts.

Sundays are always crazy days for us. After church this week the girls were going over to their friends’ house. There are lots and lots of girls in our church. A first grade boy invited Grant over to play. He only has sisters and when our families are together he loves to do boy stuff with Grant. Grant didn’t want to go and understandably so. So I invited him to come over just to play at our house.

Grant came up to me a little upset. He didn’t want to play with a little kid. I told him he didn’t have to play with him but he was still invited to our house. By the time we got home, he had invited another younger kid over from church. When we got out of the car the three boys and Maren were playing “sheep and wolf” and running around happily. They played star wars, video games and football. It meant so much to that boy. He was just beaming when I took him home.

There is no way I could have been more proud of Grant than I was yesterday. He was humble and loved others more than himself. He was kind and compassionate. If I could write on his life paper for that day, I would definitely write fabulous with a big “A” next to it. There is nothing more important for our kids to learn in life than to have a heart that loves Jesus and shows that love to others. I don’t care how smart, athletic or good looking you are, the heart is what count because that’s what God cares about.

1 Samuel 16:7

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

My kids could be on the A honor roll every year but if their hearts are not soft toward Christ it doesn’t matter in the long run. The long run being eternity. What is your focus as a parent? Is your main concern about fitting in and achievement and athletics? Does all the time and energy focused on that stifle efforts to work on heart issues?

It’s not an excuse to be lazy or not work hard at school work or activities. But learning to trust Christ and open your heart to His power to work in your life. He can give us the power to love others when we don’t want to, to think of others first or to be peacemakers. Those things might not get you very far in this world. They might even make your life harder. But to Jesus there is nothing more important. And if it’s important to Him, there should be nothing more important to me as a parent.

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