A few months ago I took a very scientific approach to finding out what parents were hoping to instill in their children….you know….I asked on Facebook. I got a variety of answers. Some were hoping for their child to have a love of learning, to be successful, to work hard. I spent a lot of time thinking about what my hopes are for my kids and I found myself floating between things that the world says are great and things that are Spirit-filled. I hope for my children to be financially stable, for them to fall in love and stay in love. I hope for them to find something that they love to do as a career. I hope they will take care of me in my old age (wink). I hope they are successful. We spend a lot of time instilling these concepts in our kids. We work on our letter and numbers. They have chores they need to complete. We try different sports and activities to see what they will be good at, but when I really slow down and think about the things that will make me the most proud of them, it isn’t their success at a sport or in a career. It isn’t their ability to find and hold down a steady job. It isn’t even that they will be “happy.” It’s more important than the stuff that comes from a “good life.”
I really want them to be good people. In Galatians 5, Paul lists the fruits of the spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Ever since I memorized these as a child, I have always thought of the fruits of the spirit as what should come out of you if you are full of Jesus. Some of these I feel like we work on with our kids on the regular. Concepts like patience are constantly coming up in our home. “Be patient with her, she’s grumpy in the morning.” We love well and we laugh hard. We even talk about kindness and what it means to be kind with our words and actions. I think that some of the more counter-cultural concepts are faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Our culture doesn’t love these concepts. We constantly hear about marriages breaking up due to unfaithfulness. We praise aggressiveness in sports and winning at all cost in business. We are bombarded by marketing that encourages us to buy now, eat now, drink now. I think its hard to raise gentle kids who don’t get walked all over. I think it’s hard to raise kids with self control and patience when so much around them is about instant gratification.
Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we don’t try. Perhaps we could raise a kinder and gentler generation. My hope for them is that they love others the way Jesus did, holding nothing back. My prayer for them is that they put others before themselves and take care of others recklessly. I’m going to look for these fruits in my kids this week and put just as much energy into encouraging and pointing out their success in these areas as I do when they write their names with no backward letters.