Success or Greatness Part 1
What is your goal when it comes to raising your children? If you’re like most parents, the word success is somewhere in your answer. We all want the very best for our children. And to be fair, there is a sense of success that is a legitimate parenting goal, if we’re defining success as our children doing something productive with their talents and skills that enables them to be independent, happy adults.
The problem is that most parents don’t stop there. They add wealth, power, beauty, and fame to their definition. The telltale sign that these goals have a vise grip on a parent’s view of success is the heavy emphasis they place on their kids’ getting stellar grades, being connected to the influential kids in school, getting onto winning teams, racking up strong athletic statistics, being the chosen leaders of their various endeavors, and investing often and heavily in current fashion. These are the priorities that plant the seeds of success—the wealth, power, beauty, and fame kind—into the soil of their kids’ souls.
But is that enough? Is that all we want our children to be–merely successful? A person can besuccessful without coming close to being truly great. And wouldn’t we all rather aim our children toward true greatness? There isn’t anything inherently wrong with getting a good education, making a nice living, and being well known. These things are fine additions to an adult life–but they shouldn’t be the primary goals we set for our children. That’s because man-made success has little to do with true greatness. If we’re aiming our children at success, we’re aiming far too low.
Success looks inward; true greatness looks upward, then outward.
Success is about my agenda; true greatness is about God’s agenda.
Success accommodates selfishness; true greatness celebrates altruism.
Success is about receiving; true greatness is about giving.
Success worships what it sees in a mirror; true greatness grieves over what it sees through its windows.
Success pays off for now; true greatness pays off forever.
God has much bigger and better plans for our children than merely indulging them. God’s goals for our children often run counter to the default mode of the human heart. That’s why God has put parents into the equation. We offer the best means to help our children make true greatness the ultimate goal of their lives.
I can think of three compelling reasons to avoid the trap of aiming your kids toward a life of success.
First, they never get to have the significant impact that God intended for them. God has gifted them and wants to use their experiences and relationships to do something that is beyond quantification. They may still have prestigious careers, but they’ll carry out their work for a much better reason than what’s in it for them.
Second, the pursuit of man-made success often brings out the worst in both parents and children. Many kids who are aimed at success struggle with antagonism or indifference toward their parents’ dreams for them.
The third reason you want to avoid the success trap is that you really undermine the chance for your kids to gain the kind of wealth and extravagance God intended for them to enjoy…in heaven.
If we’re going to invest twenty years of our live and spend tons of money preparing our kids for the future, why not prepare them for a life that dwarfs the goals of those who are merely successful? Why not groom our children for true greatness?
Taken with permission from Raising Kids for True Greatness (W Publishing Group).
Dr. Tim Kimmel has reached millions of parents with his message of building strong families.