Are you parenting with eternity in mind?
Someone once asked me what I wanted most for my children. My automatic response was, “Success!”
It seemed accurate. I want them to have successful marriages that bless their families. I want them to be successful in the careers they choose. I want them to find success when trying to reach their goals. But I went home unsatisfied with what I’d said because it wasn’t enough. It didn’t communicate all that I want for my children, and it wasn’t until later that I realized why.
As a follower of Jesus, I’ve discovered things more important than success. Success in and of itself isn’t bad or wrong. But other things will last and that’s what I want my focus on.
Our time on earth is short, and eternity is sure to follow. James 4:14 describes life on earth as, “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” That knowledge bears weight on the choices I make as a parent.
Three Ways Eternity Changes How We Parent
1. We realize our kids are not our own.
This is a tough concept for some, myself included. Being a parent involves putting the needs of our kids above our own and sacrificing to provide for them. We love our children more than we love ourselves and are willing to go to any length to protect them.
But ultimately, each child belongs to God. Psalm 127:3-4 says God gives them to us as a reward. When we think of children as solely “ours,” our goals and our desires for them become the focus. When we think of parenting as stewarding the gifts God gives us, it puts the focus back on what God and He wants for them — which may not always be what we want for them.
When we think of parenting as stewarding the gifts God gives us, it puts the focus back on what God and He wants for them — which may not always be what we want for them.
2. We prioritize differently.
To most people, wanting success for my children would be admirable, even expected. While success isn’t a bad goal, we’re called to teach our children there is more to life than the success the world tells you to chase. Knowing the love of God is the greatest thing we can desire for our children (Ephesians 3:14-19). That should be apparent in the way we prioritize activities.
Encouraging good grades and allowing kids to excel in sports is great. But teaching our kids to look for the lonely and the hurting, to love sacrificially, to forgive quickly, and to obey God’s Word is more important than anything else.
3. We encourage and celebrate differently.
The world tells us that our kids are defined by their accomplishments in school, on the playing field, and in comparison to others. But the Bible tells us to focus on their hearts, not their trophies.
We’re to point our children to the love of God so much it becomes the story of their life. They hear about it day and night, they see it in our houses and how we live our lives (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Our lives are a picture of the Gospel, pointing others to Jesus and celebrating when our children do the same (2 Corinthians 5:16-20).
If someone asked me today what I want most for my children, my answer would be, “That they would love the Lord.”
Those who love the Lord, whose confidence and trust is in Him, are blessed no matter what comes. “They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
I can live in peace knowing that a child who follows the Lord will ultimately be blessed. Their roads may not look like I envision, but if they’re following God’s plan for their lives, I know it’s the best plan for them.
Parenting with eternity in mind means remembering we have the opportunity to raise disciples who will make a difference in their world. We can leave a legacy that makes an eternal impact, one generation pointing the next generation to Jesus.