Parenting on Purpose

Posted: June 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

Sustained greatness is not a product of chance, nor even of talent, though certainly giftedness does play a role. But greatness over the long haul is the result of intentional hard work. This is exactly Malcolm Gladwell’s point in his critically acclaimed Outliers. In fact, Gladwell goes onto say that anyone who achieves sustained success has put in at least 10,000 hours of hard work in their specific field. From Bill Gates to the Beatles, Gladwell encourages us that greatness is achievable if we’re only willing to sweat a little…or rather a lot!

This encourages me as a parent. Sure I know that I can’t control my kids, and that no matter how hard I try my children can turn out to be rebellious snots who end up on the Maury Povich show. If God can have wayward kids I guess I can too. But nonetheless, there are some things that I can do as a parent to cultivate the probability of children who love Jesus and engage their culture for the glory of God.

No, this isn’t about giving you a list of things to do as a parent to cook up a batch of a godly brood. But what this is about is taking a page out of Gladwell, who really took a page out of the Bible, and to encourage us to put in the hard work as parents, and to be intentional with our children.

To be sure, Gladwell’s “insights” about hard work and intentionality is nothing new (to paraphrase King Solomon). The bible exhorts us to do the same, and especially as parents. Take a moment and read Deuteronomy 6:4-9, this incredibly essential passage on the family, and message to us parents. Moses is desperate with the nation of Israel because he knows that they’re about to march into a land called Canaan, that while flowing with milk and honey, it was also filled with some serious challenges that if not navigated properly could end up being the demise of the nation of Israel. How was Israel going to not only survive, but transform Canaan from a godless culture to a godly one? Interesting, the family. Moses tells us in so many words, that one of God’s ordained institutions for changing society is the family. No his words aren’t the stuff of bumper stickers- you know the family that prays together stays together- they’re much more! He’s not just concerned with the family staying together, he wants the family to be a powerful force in the world that God uses for his redemptive purposes!

Yet his words are nothing more than a great pep talk by some desperate coach to a locker room full of players, unless we parents are going to execute. See, at the heart of what Moses is getting at when he tells us to talk of the Scriptures when we sit down, walk, lie down and rise, is the concept of intentionality. Moses is clear, great families are not the product of wishful thinking, no they happen on purpose! Passive men who refuse to lead their families won’t produce great one’s. Parents who get caught up in the haze of the daily-ness of life, instead of lifting their sights to higher altitudes won’t have dynamic counter-cultural families. And families that are more concerned about living in certain zip codes, and vacationing in certain other one’s won’t point their children to heavenly treasure, because they’re too focused themselves on earthly treasure. There’s got to be some intentionality.

To be sure, Moses’ words about intentionality are not pointed to developing the child’s intellect, or athletic abilities. A lot of parents are really intentional about that. And if you could permit me a bit of a rant here. Stop obsessing over your child making it to the professional level. Chances are they won’t for one simple reason- they have your genes! I digress. The direction of intentionality that Moses is pointing us to is developing our kids into men and women who love God with the totality of their being. That’s what ultimately matters- not education, what kind of job will they have, how beautiful they are and who they will marry. It’s developing God lovers and world changers. That’s the direction our intentionality must be headed.

So how intentional are you? What’s your game plan with your children? Parenting on purpose, or by accident? At the end of the day you will produce something, the question is exactly what will you produce?

  1. rolodexter says:

    I dig the premises of the other books this author’s put out. And, he has a knack for writing for the masses, which is probably why he’s on the NYT Bestsellers list so often (what with mechanics like “Or are they?”–dun, dun, dun!). You would’ve certainly have heard of this guy if you listen to NPR at a

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