“Mommy, how do you say God in Spanish? I really want to learn Spanish so I can teach people about God.”
This came out of my oldest’s mouth the other day and it made my heart swell with love and joy and pride, but also ache with something else. Something ugly. Something that I had to immediately stomp out like a little spark on a pile of dry leaves before it caught fire and spread out of control.
It was fear.
Fear rooted in selfishness.
I know, she’s only four years old. She has not yet mastered the English language, let alone Spanish. She has not formed a mission team and raised financial support. But the mere thought of her, my heart, possibly living on another continent someday made me want to hug her and never let go.
But I have to let her go.
She doesn’t belong to me.
These thoughts took me straight to The Parable of the Talents, found in Matthew 25:14-30. Our children are our greatest talents, and Satan wants nothing more than for us to metaphorically bury them. Here are but a few examples of how we can innocently do just that.
- We can hover over their every move, making sure they never fail, are never hurt, never face disappointment, and…never leave the nest.
Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” We always think of that verse in regards to their moral and spiritual training, but I think it’s absolutely fair to apply it to their life training as well. If our children lack the confidence and wisdom (the kind that comes only from trying and failing a few hundred times), they will not make very successful adults, and certainly not very valuable kingdom workers.
- We can involve them in every sport, every extracurricular activity, and every organization. We can make sure they are the very best at their sport or their instrument by signing them up for private lessons, summer camps, travel teams, and regional competitions.
1 Timothy 4:7b-8 says, “Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Paul is telling us that earthly pursuits are not evil, in and of themselves. They can even be good things. However, they are not the most important thing. When we overload our children’s schedules with numerous activities, we leave very little time for church activities, family devotionals, and time to think about serving others. Do our children’s weekly schedules reflect the priorities we hope they will have? Or are they so overbooked that there is hardly any room for training in godliness?
- We can emphasize academic achievement above all else. We can push them as hard as it takes for them to become class valedictorian or to get that prized scholarship. We can stress the importance of their professional future and financial security.
In Ecclesiastes 5:10-12 we read some insights from Solomon, the wisest mortal man to ever live. He says, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.”
We hear similar advice from Paul in 1 Timothy 6:6-10, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
Financial security, worldly success, obtaining a prominent or prestigious position; none of these things are inherently wrong. Those blessed with earthly wealth can do great good with their financial talents. However, these are strong cautionary words we just read. Let’s be so very careful to not overemphasize the importance of success as the world views success. Our goal in life should be to live in a way that glorifies our Father. Period.
“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” – Psalm 127:4-5a
As I continued to ponder the parable of the talents and how it relates to my small brood, my mind stumbled upon this verse and it all made perfect sense. The warrior does not leave his arrows in his quiver. They are there as a tool to be used in battle. He has sharpened them; forged the tips with fire, so that they will be unbreakable. He prepares them for battle and he uses them. He takes aim and fires them at the enemy.
Our adversary is not physical, but he is powerful and he is determined. Satan is described as the “Father of Lies”, and he is always busy dreaming up ways to deceive all of us. He wants our arrows to stay in our quivers. He wants them to be dull. And if they are sharp and mighty, he wants us to fire them towards the deceitfulness of riches, or anything else other than him.
Each of our children is an opportunity; an asset. We can bury them in the ground, failing to develop their own unique set of talents, or we can nurture those talents and help them reach their fullest potential for the Lord. Sharpen your arrows and let them soar!
P.S. I just ordered Song School Spanish for Ellery to start working on her second language ;).