Chapter 4: A Significant Purpose

It’s been a while, I know. I’m trying to finish this book, so I expect I’ll be posting here more as I get through it over the next couple of weeks…

The fourth chapter in Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel reminds us of, “a deep longing in the heart of every child to ‘make a difference.’ They were hard-wired by God to want to do more than take up space and suck up air. They weren’t born to be common denominators or mere faces in the crowd” (page 69).

He went on to list all kinds of different families who blunt potential in children: tyrannical, preoccupied, indifferent, lazy. On page 70, he says, “Our children deserve better. God has left us as stewards of our children’s gifts and skills.” I was taken by this idea of being a steward of the girls’ gifts, skills, minds, emotions, etc. It isn’t enough to simply provide the information they need, to present it. I need to be engaging with them in all these areas. I need to help steer them here.

This chapter so deeply emphasizes helping our children develop a sense of significant purpose and drive in life I think it almost sounds like a Lynne Spears type of endorsement. On page 75 he says, “In the bigger scheme of life, it is more important that we help our children reach their potential than it is to see our own dreams come true. Many parents aren’t willing to make that sacrifice, but those who are often find that they gain much more in the end.” I think Lynne Spears would agree. In her own words her goal was to “help her children make their dreams come true.” I think there is definitely a danger in teaching kids that the only thing that matters is their happiness and their dreams. To be sure, I don’t believe Kimmel is condoning this Spears-type of parenting, as is evidenced later in the chapter, but this one portion did seem to lean in that direction.

Back to the idea of helping to steward the potential of our children’s gifts, Kimmel reminds us on page 77 that, “Children embrace what is modeled far more than what they are told. Our good advice carries clout only when it is consistent with our example.” This, combined with his words on 92, “For good or for ill, we play the biggest role in determining what kind of a difference they will ultimately make,” really punched me right in the stomach. I’m all about good intentions with my kids. I question my own follow-through. There is so much I want them to embrace yet I don’t know if I’m fully embracing it myself. I’m constantly telling my kids their actions speak louder than their words. Kimmel is now telling this to me. I need to hear it. I need to hear it every day.

He talked about the importance of regularly affirming our kids by reminding us of the cause and effect between encouragement and confidence (page 83). He said, “Affirmation catches your children doing things right. It notices when they do things you know don’t come easy to them.” Why is it so much harder to remember to point out the good? I do this sometimes, but I don’t do it nearly as often as I point out the flaws. I need to implement the 3-for-1 principle where for every critique there are three compliments. Maybe I would be more careful about how often I critique…

Then, on page 89, Kimmel says, “It’s hard to build a significant purpose into people we aren’t paying careful attention to. It’s our attention to the finer details that tells them how much they truly matter to us. Our gracious God is a God of details. He knows how many hairs are on our heads. He’s interested in us because we are fascinating to Him. Children who get the same treatment from their parents – the same treatment that their parents get from God – grow up feeling significant. A deep sense of significance makes it a lot easier for them to find their purpose and to live it out.”

Simply being present in the home with my kids does not mean I’m paying careful attention. The challenge I have is to not check out on my own family while I’m sitting right here in the same room. I want my kids to grow up knowing I was present, available, aware. I want to know the details, not because I snooped around long enough to find them, but because they were offered to me and I accepted.

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