Why I Don’t Tell My Kids They Can Be Anything They Want To Be.

Parents who say that their kids can be anything they want to be to are trying to build into their kids I think in many ways a right desire to think about the possibilities for the future. However, the values of our culture in many ways have subtly infiltrated the church and the homes of those who attend our churches. We believe that the Christian life is about the pursuit of happiness more than the conformity to Christ.

As Americans freedom is our highest good and greatest goal. Freedom to choose freedom to live and freedom be whatever we want to be. We pass this ideal on to our kids by saying they are free to do our be anything they can dream of. Romans tells us the opposite is true we are slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. Yet in our desire to live our lives on our own terms in our own way we value freedom as the greatest of all virtues. What we fail to realize is the freedom is the byproduct of constraint. Raw unabashed freedom always produces license. Os Guinness says it this way in his book A Free People’s Suicide.

Americans today are heedlessly pursuing a vision of freedom that is short-lived and suicidal. Once again, freedom without virtue, leadership without character, business without trust, law without customs, education without meaning and medicine, science and technology without human considerations can end only in disaster.

When exported abroad, the same rampant American freedom often undermines the traditional ways of life in other countries through its licentiousness, permissiveness and passion to transgress.

Os Guinness

Why shouldn’t we tell our kids they can be whatever they want to be?

1. It presupposes man as the center of all things.
As Christians, the Bible tells us the story of God and his love for us. It starts with God, not man. “In the beginning, God created…” The Bible is all about God and what he has done for us in Christ. God is the Author and Jesus is the Hero. The tendency we have is to read the story of the Bible with ourselves in mind. We use the Bible as a tool to find our purpose in life. This is dangerous because when we presuppose that the primary purpose for us is to find personal fulfillment and personal success we become disillusioned when our dreams are not fulfilled. The first question of the Westminster Catechism asks: What is the chief end of man? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Our purpose is giving God the glory and we, as a result, get the joy. The first question of the Westminster Catechism clarifies first and foremost our purpose is only found in God. The first question of the Heidelberg Catechism asks: What is our only comfort in life and death? Answer: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. We are not the captains of our our souls or the masters of our fate. We belong to God.

2. It teaches them that what you like matters more than who you are becoming.
The Bible teaches us that God is very interested in who we are becoming. Are we and our desires being formed into the image of Christ? Being like Christ in his suffering is far weightier than what our petty preferences are. Questions that are based around what you prefer or how much money you can make. While those may be aspects of what you choose to do you need to ask better questions like:
1. What do I enjoy doing?
2. How has God uniquely gifted me to do something that will bring God glory and those around me joy?
3. What do my friends, family, and leaders see in me that I don’t see in myself?
4. In the ways, God has uniquely gifted me how can I point people to Jesus?

3. It sets kids up to see failure as fatal.
I have seen it over and over again kids believe their parents (after they recover from being lied to about Santa Clause). Kids think they can do whatever they want to do sometimes it works out, but oftentimes it doesn’t and when it doesn’t work out kids are devastated and disillusioned. To have a dream your whole life and then it doesn’t work out and you question everyone who promised success is yours for the taking. Often times our success is a process and if kids think it is a birthright they won’t do the hard work and won’t trust God in the hard and those failures will not have the intended effect on our kids.

If you have been in a bookstore (go now while they still exist) you will find the self-help section is massive because we all want to be a better version of ourselves. This to a limit is ok. Parents who tell their kids they can be whatever they want to be are doing so for very kind reasons they want their child to have good self-esteem and self-awareness. The problem is when we are so self-aware but not God-conscious we tend to gloss over things God doesn’t gloss over. Saying to our kids they can be whatever they want to be will set our kids up for disappointment or make them self absorbed. Telling them they should pursue the gifts that God has given them and they should explore the dreams God has given them is a far better way to say the same thing .

So what’s the difference? It’s very subtle yet very important. By saying how has God made you? What dreams has God placed in your heart? God is primary and we are secondary. Our kids are growing up where this is never explained to them nor enforced in them. Our kids need to see their lives are more than the fulfillment of their wish dream but rather in light of God’s unique and particular design of them

In sum, parents be far more worried about how God has designed your child and think more about how we can make our kids more God-conscience and less self-absorbed.

6 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Tell My Kids They Can Be Anything They Want To Be.”

  1. Sam, this is really, really good advice for any parent. I also found myself reflecting, as an adult, how I lose focus of this in my own career as well. Thank you for this much needed word of wisdom and encouragement!

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