Last week we talked about running; this week and next, we are going to talk about chasing. We are all chasing something; this has been the case since Biblical times and probably before. Some of us are chasing money; some of us are chasing success in our careers (again money?). You may be chasing security, through money, career, or even a marriage. Many of us chase respect, again in our careers or our marriages, or in other relationships.
What Are You Chasing?
As we look at the things that we are chasing in today’s world, you may think that there are some things worth chasing. Some things that are more noble to chase than others. For example, certainly it’s better to chase respect than it is to chase the almighty dollar. Here’s another thing a lot of us chase today: our kids! Is there any thing in this world that could be more worthwhile to chase than our own kids?
Whether you have older children, like me, or are literally chasing toddlers around the house, there can be no greater calling than putting yourself and your needs aside to make sure that your children are well cared for and have every advantage you can give them. Surely, Jesus supports that chase, right?
I wouldn’t be so sure. Look at what Jesus has to say about family, including children:
Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Matthew 19:27-30
Wow! that’s a pretty hard verse to read, isn’t it? Is Jesus telling us to abandon our children? Sort of sounds like it, doesn’t it? And in case Jesus’ stance on family wasn’t clear, check this out:
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:25-27
Jesus definitely takes it up a notch in that verse, doesn’t he? So Jesus doesn’t just want us to abandon our kids, he thinks we should hate them too? Based on these verses, you might assume that Jesus has high school kids like me. I know those of you with teenagers know what I’m talking about. But all jesting aside, these are some harsh words from Jesus. What exactly is He saying?
Don’t worry; before we are tempted to call Child Protective Services to investigate, I don’t believe Jesus is asking us to abandon our families and hate our mother and father and even, our kids. But what is clear from these verses is that he doesn’t want the chase for our children to be at the top of our priority list.
The Problem Isn’t the Pace, It’s the Direction
If you read my last blog post I hope you remember this: that where our chase is concerned, it’s not the pace that matters, it’s the direction!
[bctt tweet=”It’s not your pace that matters, it’s your direction”]
To extend that message to how we parent, I believe what Jesus is saying is this: Put me first. Seek me first. I want to be at the top of your priorities. In fact, I want to be so high on you list that, in comparison to me, you hate everyone else.
That’s not so easy for us, is it? Based on what you see as you look at your life and you look around at other people, Jesus’ words are down right radical. But folks, they are right. They are the best way for you to live and the best way to raise great kids. But it will take a radical shift in the way you live and the way you parent.
If you want to stop chasing your children, make sure you have the right priorities.
Put God First to be a Good Parent
God has a better plan for us than making our lives about our kids. He wants us to seek him first. Put him at the top. If we seek Him and put Him first, we won’t be run ragged trying to get our kids everywhere. Our security won’t be based on how well our kids are doing in school and if they made the starting line up in basketball. We won’t have to drive them so hard that they get stressed out an anxious trying to live up to our expectations. God says seek me first and I’ll take care of your kids. I’ll give you the kids you’ve always wanted.
Take a moment and listen to what God promises us and our families if we put him first:
Psalm 37:23-26 The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsake nor their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.
Psalm 112:1-3 Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever.
Jeremiah 32:38-39 They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them.
God wants to bless us. He wants to bless our children. He wants them to be mighty in the land. He wants things to go well for your kids. How do we make that happen for them and for us? All we have to do is put God first; chase God first.
Today, I challenge you to put God first, above play dates and soccer practice, above clean rooms and laundry, above practicing sight words and SAT scores. And stay tuned to my next blog for 10 practical suggestions about exactly how to put God first in your parenting and keep your kids young.