Recently I had the privilege of joining in with a bunch of educators, community leaders, parents and students in a school division workshop to talk about what skills, knowledge, dispositions (attitudes) and values (or beliefs) that a student graduating from our schools should have. Besides the fact that it was a surprisingly fun exercise (I think the company helped!) I learned a lot! There were clear winners with many of the characteristics that were chosen, for example a student should be proficient in numeracy and literacy as well as technology but then there were some pleasant surprises such a wholeness, joy and work ethic. I walked away thinking that if our graduates embodied the set of qualities we had listed as a group that we would have very fine citizens indeed.
Now this was a public school workshop and so while some of the specifics of the ideal graduate would look different from say a Christian school, there were many that overlapped. It caused me to think about what our church was “producing” in terms of our graduates! Are they joyful? Are they hard workers? Do they demonstrate, say Biblical literacy? I used to say that you had to have a goal in mind for your students or you will just do “stuff” without direction. An unplanned approach might produce a student who loves Jesus and engenders the values of our church, but it would also be easy to miss the mark… because there isn’t one. (“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!”) The Church needs to be intentional. We need to know where we are leading people. Of course the path isn’t always straight nor the way easily distinguished, but if we don’t at least think about what we are doing with the sheep God has entrusted to us, we shouldn’t be surprised when we end up in the rough. And this has led to many fruitful conversations around our office.
However, during one such conversation yesterday it dawned on me; our schools are working to become much more intentional (and thankfully about more than intellectual goals, as important as those are), and now our church is thinking through intentionality and goals, but I’ve never done the same for my family! I mean in general I want my kids to love God and love people and we even have a few strategies for accomplishing that goal (foster care), but I’ve never actually thought about raising our kids with purpose from beginning to end. That’s a problem. And if I’m facing that dilemma I suspect that other parents are also shooting towards an unmarked target. So what do we want for our kids?
I thought of telling you what our values were as a family but then I had a better idea – why don’t YOU tell The Renewed Family readers what is important to your family. And more than that, tell us how you are working to see those values in your children. If you need help to get you started think about this, when your kids leave home one day, what do you pray they will take with them? What will they need in terms of skills (e.g. budgeting, conflict management, communication, cooking, etc.), what sorts of knowledge will they need (e.g. how to buy a car, how to bind a wound to stop the bleeding, the kind of spouse they want, etc.), what kind of attitude do you hope they display (e.g. hopeful, hard-working, respectful, etc.) and what values or beliefs do you hope they’ll have (e.g. I believe in God for myself, generosity is good, etc.)?
Clearly there are tons of different ideas out there but the point isn’t to implement everyone else’s, nor it is to critique other families, but to learn from other parents to see if there are holes in the values we have in our home. So think about it and suggest your top one or two for a few different categories and then let us know what you do to train your kids in those areas! This is going to be fun! I hope many people will weigh in!