Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year, A New Perspective

As a former public school educator education has always been important to me.  I was the first in my immediate family to go to college, earn a degree and go on to get a master's degree.  I love learning and I think passing on that love for learning is important in teaching and parenting too. 

But how much of my focus has been on turning out children to succeed in the educational arena?  Our oldest was taught at home until 9th grade, went to a private school for two years, and then the public school for two years.  She exceeded in her studies.  So much like her mother, she loves to study and to learn.  Thankfully, she also has a heart to love and serve the Lord.

The questioning of myself has been on just "getting the job done".  With seven children, four of which are still learning at home (and a preschooler too) much of my day is focused on just getting done the bare necessities. 

God has used the last few months to convict my heart.  Perhaps some of it is due to a child who is very smart, but doesn't like to complete his assignments.  I know he can get straight A's but that is not his priority.  His priority is friends. 

In my attempts to get him to  "do what needs to be done" I am pushing him away and it is creating tension in our home. Yes, he does need to be held accountable and do the best he can do, but, in my focus on his scores alone I have left out something more important...his character and True Greatness.  In Tim Kimmel's book, Raising Kids for True Greatness he challenges parents to strive not only for their kids to succeed but to reach greatness.  Here is an excerpt from his book:

One date in recent history permanently seared its mark onto America’s conscience: September 11, 2001. This defining moment exposed the best and the worst things about us. It forced us to look in the mirror as a nation and ask ourselves what really matters.

The terrorists who slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center caught us completely off guard. In the middle of a business-as-usual morning, they showed us how naive we were about the magnitude of their hate and the extent to which we could be humbled by their violence.

Many successful people found themselves trapped in the clutches of this ghastly event. At 9:03 that Tuesday morning, their SAT scores and the cars they drove to work meant nothing. There was very little that their pedigrees and résumés could do for them. The famous as well as the obscure became equals in the statistics. In the Twin Towers, “Who’s Who” died side by side with “Who’s he?”

But in the midst of this crisis, there were magnificent people who responded to the urgency of the moment and gave everything they had for the sake of others. As the successful rushed down the stairs of the World Trade Center, the truly great ran up. As the well-heeled and comfortable ran for their lives, the truly great slipped inside the nightmare to see what they could do to help those who were left behind.

And after the smoke cleared, thousands of truly great people stepped out from their quiet positions within the ranks of successful Americans and opened their hearts and their wallets to those whose lives had been shattered by this cataclysmic event.

Isn’t it ironic that as a nation we worship those who are successful, but when tragedy strikes, our survival depends upon those who are great? A cry for help is always answered first by people who live for something more valuable than their own fame or fortune. They respond even though there isn’t a thing in it for them.

That’s why, when it’s time to bury our dead, we mourn the loss of those
who were successful, but we celebrate the memory of those who were truly great—the firefighters, the EMTs, the rescue workers, and the countless civilians who sacrificed everything they had for people they’d never met.

Truly great people seldom simply happen; they are carefully groomed for the moment long before they are forced to face it. Long before they get to these challenges, so many of them have lived within the proving grounds of a family that inspired them to true greatness.

An excerpt taken from Raising Kids For True Greatness, pp 11-12, Tim Kimmel, Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Isn't that inspirational?  I want my children to be truly great in the eyes of the Lord.  I want them to seek to serve, rather than to be served.  I want them to follow the example of Jesus, who lived to give his life for others. 

That kind of life will not be learned in the pressures of daily life, with a focus on schooling alone.  It is an intentional life, one that is not only taught but caught.  As a mom, my life needs to first reflect love for my Savior and to set an example of living for others and not for my schedule alone. 

For this new year my focus will be differnt and my teaching of my children will be different.  Yes, they will still need to accomplish their daily assignments and tasks, but in the midst of life, I want to help them to get a glimpse of greatness beyond themselves. 

I hope to achieve this by a few intentional things:
  • Pray diligently for my children
  • Help them establish good, healthy routinues in their daily lives.  One thing I am going to try is a daily planner by Ann Voskamp from A Holy Experience
  • Read great books.  Since most of my children are taught at home I can have an impact on what they read.  This year I am committed for them to read great literature and heroes of the faith.  I want them to get a glimpse of others who had a bigger picture than themselves.
If you have any other ideas I'd love for you to share them below so together we can help our children reach for true greatness

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