The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as he said it. The words filled the air as he said what he thought was a compliment. Instead, his words left me reeling through my brain and assessing every moment of being a parent. He said, “Your son is a good kid.” What he said may not sound like an issue to you, but please hear me out.
I am a parent of four teenage boys. I am also a Christian, and I happen to be a preaching minister. I have spent my life trying to make God the number one priority in my life while trying to teach to my kids. My goal as a Christian parent has never been to raise good kids; I wanted to raise Godly children. To there is a world of difference between these two things.
1. Godly kids prioritize God over all else. I want to raise children who ask, “What does God want me to do?” as their number one question. They strive to put God first in everything that they do and say. That does not mean they have to be a paid vocational minister like myself. It means they plan their lives around their faith no matter what situation in which they find themselves.
2. Being a good kid has an ever-changing definition. Everyone has a different definition of what it means to be good. Some would say that means you don’t hurt anyone with your words or actions. Other would say it means helping people. Still, others would say it means having no public flaws. When you settle into trying to raise a good kid you might be overlooking a vital part of their life. For example, my kid may be nice to others, but what if he has a pornography addiction? I believe that issue must be addressed and not ignored. I believe raising a Godly child means that we try to focus on every aspect of their life.
3. Godly kids value the things of God. They understand the need to read and apply the Bible. They see the need to be a part of a community of believers. They know what it means to serve others without expecting repayment. They know that being a follower of God is seen in everything they do, not just in what they claim to believe. Bible reading, prayer, service, Church attendance and Christian leadership are woven into the fabric of their lives.
4. Good kids can think that goodness is enough for Heaven. Somewhere along life’s journey, it is easy to substitute the idea that I need to be good to make my parents happy to I need to be good to make God happy. Heaven is not for good people, it is for people who have received grace. My kids are frequent failures at following God – just like I am! I want them to know that is okay. God values them despite their sins, and he offers them grace in Jesus. I do not want them trusting their own efforts to get them into eternity; rather I want them to throw themselves on the grace of God.
5. Raising Godly kids is far more challenging. Let me be 100% honest with you. Raising Godly children is one of the most difficult things in the world. Almost everything around my children is trying to pull them away from their faith. There is little support from other parents and often from other believers. It keeps you up at night replaying your action and down on your knees in prayer. There are many times I wish God wanted me just to raise nice kids because it would be far easier. I believe we are called as parents to give our best efforts at raising the type of children God desires.
Once again, if I am honest, I would say that most days I feel like a failure. I feel like I haven’t taught enough, encouraged enough or lived a good enough example. I fear my children will walk away from the Lord and never return. So, I spend time every day praying for them, their future spouse and the decisions they are making. I ask God to help me in every part of my parenting. Then each day I get up and do the best I can as I lead my home.
Yes, I hope people will one day say I have good kids, but I hope that goodness will flow from their life of faith and a Godly heart.