Will your child have similar answers? How does he or she perceive success? Does he or she perceive success? Does he or she know what the Bible teaches about success?
Redeeming Our Children’s Success With God
In reminding and helping your youths succeed, parents need to point out that success is ultimately through obedience to God as stated in Joshua 1:7, “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”
Michael Chan, our Teaching Ministry staff, and his wife Isabel shared their goal for their 14-year-old son, Sean: ‘That he progressively learns to handle responsibilities we deem appropriate for the different stages of his life. Ultimately, that our son sees growing in these responsibilities integral to a life with God as his Saviour and Lord.”
To this end, Michael and Isabel listed some practical things they hope Sean will succeed in. Does this list reflect your desires for your children too?
How do these reflect obedience to God?
Michael cites the example of Sean helping out with household chores, “We try to impress upon him that being useful to God includes contributing to the family in such ways as well.”
Michael confessed, “The list can go on… and it doesn’t mean everything on the list has been successfully attained…”
Indeed, helping our children to succeed takes time, and even when a teenager has achieved success, he or she still needs guidance.
This concurs with the findings of our questionnaire, which reveals that our youths want someone to teach them how to manage success. This is good news because success is never an end by itself, but a process of learning to depend on God!
Michael and Isabel shared how they teach success management in their home.
We constantly remind him (and ourselves!) that God is more concerned about him than we are. We tell him that we pray for him constantly that he will learn to depend on God whether things are well or not well with him. We remind him that though we cannot be with him all the time, God is, so God is the more reliable help he can turn to in his moments of need. We remind him that any praise or commendations should come from others and not from himself, and that the most important and decisive praise must be from God, not man.
We often tell him that between achievement and character, the latter is more important to us because God wants us to conduct ourselves for His pleasure.Regarding his musical ability (e.g.. to play the piano and violin), I often remind him that it is a gift from God, that he should use it to serve Him and not just to ‘show off’. If there are opportunities for him to use it, we would encourage him to be involved, bearing in mind that God is more concerned in his availability than in his abilities.
Achievement has its place only in opening opportunities for us to contribute to society and be a witness to God where He puts us. We often talk about the kind of job options open to him. We hold the view that it should be something that he is passionate about, a job that will allow him to use his gifts and talents, contribute to the society, and not so much of the prestige that comes with the job title.
That we all make mistakes, but more important than not making mistakes is that we learn from our mistakes and become wiser.
We try to impress upon him that his successes are not final. he could be on top one moment and fall the next. If he does well in his studies, but is not a good friend to his peers, it is still failure of another kind. We constantly affirm that if he doesn’t do well in his studies but does what is right and pleasing to God, he would still be in God’s eyes, and ours, a successful person.
A word of caution, Michael added, “…so often we want our child to learn certain skills and be mature in certain ways within a week or month, but we ourselves have taken years to learn those same things! Our expectations are too high, not realistic, and worse, make us less understanding and forbearing.”
Dear parents, we could do well to set reasonable and realistic expectations of our children according to different stages of their lives. Michael shared, “Once our focus turned to responsibilities appropriate for the different stages of his life, we find ourselves redeeming our relationship with our son and seeing him handling his responsibilities with better attitude and effort.” Michael and Isabel take great pains to help Sean acquire appropriate skills and attitudes according to his maturity. He added, “This is tougher than teaching Mathematics or Chinese! We must instruct, remind, encourage, rebuke, and do all over again many times, so that he would eventually be carrying these responsibilities on his own with fewer reminders.”
Successes and Achievements
As our teenagers walk in and out of school every day, chances are they will be reading and hearing messages that broadcast their schools’ successes and achievements. The “Best Choir”, “Top 10 value-added schools”, “Champions in B Boys Table Tennis”… etc. With this in mind, we set out to explore our teenagers’ perception of success. Here is what we found out from a questionnaire: