Let’s talk about success in today’s society, with our children, with ourselves, and with our ability to emulate and imitate the Lord’s merciful acts.
Technology has become quite my friend, just as easily as it has become my enemy. While I rely on technology, and more specifically social media, to keep me up to date with the news of the world, I also find it to be quite stressful especially where my children are concerned.
Podcasts are one of my favorite things to listen to. I enjoy getting snippets of news via NPR podcasts, or listening to 60 minutes while I’m doing laundry or the dishes. In a lot of cases, I’m listening to news specifically through my Amazon Echo and Echo Dot while I read and write blogs, pay bills, and finish up any writing projects I’m working on. It’s a different level of multi-tasking, than what my parents were used to. One podcast I enjoy listening to is Focus on the Family. In most cases, they have short little 20 or 25 minute devotionals and/or anecdotes about family and living a Christian life. Last week, one of the podcasts focused on success and pressure. They asked the question, “How do you define success?” And obviously, in today’s society success is defined in a more superficial and at times egotistical way as opposed to a spiritual one. So, today I wanted to discuss that in this blog.
Many parents will say their child is successful if he or she gets into a good school. If he or she wins the MVP trophy in soccer, scores the most goals in basketball, wins the geography bee, the spelling bee, is the valedictorian, or makes the President’s list. I don’t want to take away from these parents, because they are right…their children are successful, but they’re falling short at times in the way the Lord asks us to be. The Bible tells us to seek first the kingdom of God, to live for something bigger than what is on the surface.
So many parents these days have created a thin line between a child doing his or her best and satisfying the egotistical needs and desires of his or her parents. Ok, ok, friends, I know what you’re saying to me, “let he who doesn’t sin cast the first stone.” It is not my place to judge or to “preach” because I am just as guilty. For any of you who follow me on Facebook, you’ll see my often times shameless posts about my children completing tasks, some of those tasks are completed at an earlier age than their peers. That is my pride shining through and some could call it my gloating, and this is where I state that technology and social media, specifically, are my worst enemy. They encourage me to not focus on success in a Christian manner.
How many of you out there post photos of your children online? I’d be willing to bet that every one of you who reads my posts and have children, do this. You’re proud of your children and you want to share it with the world. I get it, I do, but does it add too much pressure on us as parents to encourage (and some of you go a few levels above encouragement) our children to succeed? Are our children becoming an appendage of our own superficial egos? Think about that for a moment.
This past Sunday, my pastor discussed “The Exceedingly Great and Precious Promises of God” from 2 Peter 1:5-11 and it correlated a lot with how we determine success, or at least I was able to relate it in my Christian struggles to be a good mom and mold my children into successful adults. I want to look at two particular passages from 2 Peter 1.
“Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fail, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:10-11
Peter wrote a second letter because false teachers were troubling the church and disturbing the faith of some by their heresy, immorality, and greed. Perhaps I’m seeing a parallel in what Peter found and how we, Christians and non-Christians, are determining what makes our children successful. We are placing realistic and un-realistic requests and stresses upon our children, and why are we assuming these are the only ways to be successful? Thanks to social media, the competitive factor amongst parents has increased. Our children’s success, or lack thereof, becomes a direct reflection upon how well we are raising our children. We can be seen as failures. We are labeled as dead beats and disconnected parents. We allow ourselves to dwell upon a shallow view of success. I struggle daily to make sure that what I’m conveying to my children as “success” isn’t something that is just defined by our society.
So, what was my point with the post? To encourage all of you to relax a bit, to let go, to not pin your child’s goals upon what Nosey Neighbor’s kids down the street are doing. God created us in His image and He has a higher purpose for us and our children than what society leads us to. This is not to encourage an indolent nature with our children, but continue to guide them and influence what true success is. And just like Peter says in 2 Peter 1: 5-8,
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
And isn’t that how true success should be defined?