I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to speak to kids on a regular basis. I don’t know if it makes any difference in them, but I know it does in me. Youth has the power to energize the old, warn out and tired – like me.
Yesterday, I started thinking of all the wasted words and opportunities of my life as a parent and an adult. I know I spent too much time trying to create a product rather than enjoying the development of an individual.
I still believe the primary parental responsibility is to “train up a child in the way he/she should go”. Instilling Godly, fundamental principles of morals and values is a God-given duty and privilege. I’m not suggesting I should have set around the fire, roasting marshmallows, singing Kumbaya and trying to be a friend not a father. Parenting and teaching is a deliberate, work-like pursuit.
However, in the innocence and energy of youth, I see a natural inclination to live exceptionally. Kids just know how to get the most out of life.
Yes, I know their lives are relatively stress-free. They haven’t experienced the responsibility of adulthood. As I’ve said many times to kids, “Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. Being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!” But on their faces, in a twinkle in their eye or the enthusiasm in their words; there is an addictive, powerful sense of unbridled optimism and untapped potential.
I spent all my parenting days focused on the responsibility, not the privilege. As a result, I failed. I was breaking the colt, rather than guiding.
Kids are young colts or fillies, who desire to please so much, but unabashedly buck at any attempt to be “trained”. They will kick up their heels and run wild across the pasture. If we have done our job, they can run all they want within the boundaries we have set.
I wish I had spent a little more time enjoying the run across the pasture. I was raised by a father who never praised or encouraged me. He demanded perfection. As a father, I believe I praised more than I corrected; but there are times that I wished my praise tipped the scale much greater than it did.
I guess my point is this – we, as parents or adults with influence in the lives of young people have been blessed so much. Children are incredible gifts from God. We need to be daily intentional about their “training up” and ever mindful of their developing character.
But … and it’s a huge but … in the midst of responsibility, we can’t lose the joy of the opportunity to make a difference. From the front row seats where we are allowed to observe their lives, we should be dazzled by their brilliance, amazed by their potential and encouraged by their futures.
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 11:7