Editor’s note: In honor of Thanksgiving, the IFWE blog will not publish tomorrow. We wish you and your family a wonderful holiday.
Thanksgiving and other holidays have changed drastically for me now that I have children.
It used to be a day where I would make some yummy food and travel between my parents and my in-laws to share meals and fellowship.
Now Thanksgiving is a time to teach my children about who they are, what they are called to do as followers of Christ, and to give thanks to God for our many blessings.
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
My son, Parker, is the one who gets these lessons the most directly.
He is six and more able to understand some of the lessons of who God is and in turn, who he is.
Every night before we go to bed we say a prayer, and I encourage Parker to do as much unprompted talking to God as he wants.
Some nights, purely in an effort to extend bedtime, he lists every animal for which is thankful.
Stalling tactics aside, his heart is full of thanks for what God has created.
I know he doesn’t fully understand yet that God has a unique and special purpose for his life, but I know clearly what my job as parent is: to let him discover that and help him along the way.
Psalm 139:14 (NIV) says:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Our job as parents is to help our children live into this verse.
We praise the Lord because we are fearfully and wonderfully made in his likeness.
We should be teaching our children to rely on the Lord’s strength, not our own. In his infinite wisdom, the Lord created each of us wonderfully and differently.
These differences are part of God’s design for his creation and a reflection of his desire for how he wants the world to operate.
Should My Son Be a Scientist or an Ice Cream Truck Driver?
This means that rather than teaching our children to be anything they want to be, we teach them to be all they can be in Christ.
I cannot choose to be anything in the world, and I should not be guiding my children to think that is an option.
Rather, I can counsel them to prayerfully think about what God has designed them to do, and I must fully support whatever that is.
In this they will bring glory to God, experience a greater level of personal fulfillment, and be empowered to serve others best. They can only do these things when they live into their gifts.
As a parent of young children in 2015, this is not what culture is telling us to do.
In fact, culture puts enormous pressure on us to over-schedule our kids and make them believe they can be anything and everything that they want to, as if they were selecting a meal off of a menu.
The hard truth is that God might call your child to a lesser paying job with little fame and no glory.
If that is what God calls your child to do, will you support it?
This year, before Parker’s first day of kindergarten, a huge milestone separating toddler-hood from schoolboy, I made a list of his favorite things reflected in the picture above.
Parker told me he wanted to be a scientist and an ice cream truck driver.
I would be lying if I did not admit to a fleeting thought of “please go with the scientist…”
But what if he is supposed to become an ice cream truck driver?
If God called him to be an ice cream truck driver, I can rest assured that he should do it with excellence. What’s more, in a free society I can know that he is serving others by pursuing this job.
It might not have the prestige of scientist, but I am not in charge of that and neither is Parker—God is.
In a season where we are more intentional about being thankful, I have to remind myself to be thankful for my children and for who God designed them to be.
I am also reminded of my duty: to raise up my children to live into who God has created them to be, because if they live into that, the world will be a better place, even if a little bit.
We must reject the culture and live into what the gospel calls us: be all we can be in Christ.
I am so thankful for the gift of children who are teaching me this lesson, even in my own journey.