Recently, in the midst of a discussion with my wife, Kelly, about our son’s education, she asked me a good question. It made me reflect on things I’ve thought about before but hadn’t stopped to ponder in a while. What was the question?
What is your vision for Owen?
Great question! Actually, it’s a vital question for Kelly and me; it’s vital for any fallible man or woman who endeavors to raise a malleable young soul. Have you considered the question lately in your own parenting?
First, what is vision? Quite simply, vision is a compelling picture of a preferred future. (I’m sure I owe credit to someone much smarter to me for that definition.) Vision is more actionable than a dream. It precedes goals. It provides clarity when confusion threatens. It sustains hope when difficulties arise. It keeps the focus on the best things when good things come knocking. It motivates you when you feel lazy. It holds you accountable when you stray. Vision matters.
Four components of visionary parenting
So, what’s my vision for Owen? Let me summarize by suggesting a few things any Christian parent ought to consider the primary components of their vision:
1. I want him to love his Savior with his whole heart.
The most important vision any parent can have for a child is for that child to develop a faith that is his or her own. Everything else pales in comparison. Jesus said this was the most important commandment: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind,” (Matthew 22:37). And, there’s no more compelling vision for me than that love taking root in my son’s heart.
2. I want him live a life of service.
The second greatest commandment, equally important to the first according to Jesus, is to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” (Matthew 22:38). My vision for Owen is that he look to others’ needs and that he’d be the type of person who takes appropriate action to meet them.
3. I want him to love the Church Christ died to redeem.
The Church is not perfect. But, it’s still Christ’s Bride. He instituted the Church. The Spirit empowers the Church. And, the local Church is God’s instrument for redeeming a world full of souls who need him. I would love nothing more than for my son—no matter what he chooses as a profession—to view it as his mission to give his best to build the Church and, as a result, the Kingdom.
4. I want him to be marked by generosity.
Generosity flows from a heart marked by gratitude. And, even in a what’s-in-it-for-me culture, true gratitude and generosity do exist and are attainable. I want Owen to be a man who recognizes the grace he’s been given, the provision that is all around him, the richness of the world in which he lives, the wonder of the relationships he experiences. Then, I want that gratitude to bubble up and overflow in great generosity.
That’s it. If he gets straight As, great! If he is awarded a scholarship to a university, play ball! If he can shred on the guitar, rock on! If he can be a chef at a five-star restaurant, gravy! Those would all be fun things but neither they—nor any other lesser thing—can never be my (or his) vision for his life. They cannot be the primary path down which I point (or push) him.
I have to teach him—no I have to lead him by the power of my example—onto the path of faith. Do I love Jesus? Am I serving others? Do I invest in the church? Am I a sacrificial giver? It’s my most important job as a parent to live and teach this vision. And, Christian parent, let that vision motivate you as well. God will take care of the rest.