You consistently took your children to Sunday School, read the Bible and prayed at meal times, sent them to Christian summer camp, took them to numerous youth group events and yet your teenager is in full-rebellion mode and is making you look bad. Sound familiar? Maybe not to everyone, but there are lots of kids who grow up in Christ-honoring homes who are not believers. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees. Free Will means each person individually must decide to follow or not follow God. When we begin to approach our parenting with a sense of ownership and are not only disappointed but embarrassed by our teenagers, we may have made an idol of success.
As we spend countless hours at practices, games, recitals, and concerts we can easily begin to get wrapped up in our children. Our conversations begin to focus on their activities, their grades, their accomplishments – to the level of seeing our children as our trophies of success rather than God’s creations. We secretly want to display them as visible testimonies to a job well done. But, when they fail to live up to our expectations we find ourselves not grieving for their losses but angry with them and fighting them because we are actually grieving for ourselves and our loss. The reputation for success has come to rule our hearts.
Our Identity is in God.
Our children are really God’s children. They belong to Him, not to us. They are meant to bring Him glory not us. As Christian parents we have the ability to be God’s instruments to help them. We are agents to accomplish His plan. Our identity must remain firmly rooted in God and His call for our lives not in our children or their performance. If they rebel or fail, our grieving should be that they have rejected God not us. When our parenting is reduced to our hard work, our teen’s performance, and our reputation or the family’s – it will be hard for us to respond with selfless faithfulness when we face our child’s failures.
Here are some of the danger signs or warnings that our hearts may be worshiping success. God-ordained opportunities to minister to our teen’s pain will become moments of anger-filled confrontation using words of condemnation. Instead of leading our needy child once again to Christ we will beat him with our words. Instead of loving, we will reject. In place of words of hope, we will condemn. Our feelings will be flooded much more with our own embarrassment, anger and hurt than with grief over our wayward child’s standing before God.
Do you have an attitude of ownership and entitlement? Are you ruled by reputation? Are you worried about what others think? Check your heart and make sure the idol of success is not driving your view of or your relationship with your teenager.
For more about discovering idols in your heart, listen to the Gospel Treason series by Brad Bigney. He also wrote a book, Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel With Hidden Idols.
I’m praying for you! Let me know how I can help or better serve you and your family.
in HIS service,
P.S. The themes and main ideas come from Paul David Tripp’s book “Age of Opportunity”. I’m summarizing what I read, adding my own thoughts and Scripture too.
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