My wife was conversing with Ethan, our six year old sometime this week. For some reason, the talk ventured into the future, with my wife asking him: “What do you want to do when you grow up?” That is the question that many people ask children and I laud it. Ethan’s answer though took her aback. In her bid to raise Purpose-Driven Children, she might not have been excited by Ethan’s answer but as we shall see later, Ethan was spot on!
The answers that children will give you will be based on their exposure…they desire what their environment dictates, or what mesmerizes them. [ictt-tweet-inline]Children are ‘hero worshipers’, whether you like it or not[/ictt-tweet-inline]. And that is why the animation and movie industry as well as comic book industry gross billions of dollars each year. The toy world also is carefully crafted around the theme of heroes. Raising Purpose-Driven Children should ride on this aspect too.
“I want to be a barber”, Ethan said with enthusiasm but with such desire in his heart. So as Beth internalized what our son had just said, she prodded further: “OK, why do you want to be a barber?” I need to pause here and highlight something divine that Beth did—she did not shout Ethan down or discourage him from being a “barber”, for now. She wanted to know why his thought was on that aspect. Later on, I helped Beth unearth the importance of what Ethan said next in response to her second question.
“I want to be a barber so that I can help people look nice and have good hair. People like Serah (his sister) need their hair to look good.” Selah! Pause and think about that answer from a 6 year old. Then, juxtapose that answer with what our A Level students normally say when selecting a course to take. Think of what motivated you to take a particular course at university. Think of why you shunned a particular course. Sadly, for the most part, our decisions are money-related. “So why do you want to take this course?” Someone might ask a student selecting a career path. “Because there is money in it,” is normally the answer. Wrong answer!
There is a Heaven and Earth difference between what Ethan said and what students at the A level normally say as they chart the course for their lives. Now I am not saying that money is bad. Money is an awesome resource. However, if the pursuit of money is an end in itself, we have read the wrong script of life and we are headed for a major crash. For the most part, this crash comes on so late in life that there is no enough room for recovery and pursuit of real life purpose…but I digress. In the same conversation, Beth prodded further to see if Ethan had any more dreams for life. “I want to be a drummer too”. Why? Beth asked. “So I can make music and people like Serah can sing, enjoy and feel good” We shall revisit Ethan’s replies in the next post, believe me, it is wisdom in raising Purpose-Driven Children.
A purpose driven child is one who is aware of their reason for existence—serving humanity with their God given talent, gift, skill, time, resources and opportunities. In fact, if your parent was purpose driven, chances are that you easily drift towards that dimension in life. If however purpose was never a subject of interest in your family, chances are that you took the highway of education that mostly emphasizes competition, theoretical knowledge and rewards mostly duplication of what has been crammed. That is why there is one most common answer you get when you ask graduates, “So what is the next step?” More than 95% of them will tell you, “I am looking for a job”.
Purpose driven Children already have some “projects” that they have been doing all along. They are not bored with life. They are not “waiting” for someone to give them an opportunity to work. A job is something that they welcome as and when it comes. And when the job is not immediately available, they are not sitting at home watching series and having fun. No. They are compelled to work on their “project”, whether it is something to do with their gifts are talents or a skill or a business idea that they have come up with. That is what we need. I know of young people who are employing other young people because they sought to pursue their dreams and their ideas. A purpose driven child is raised to be valuable, proactive, engaged and “on the go”.
People have lost the plot. Parents are busy raising “obedient children” at the expense of their purpose. Obedience is great, but if we put on purpose nearly the half focus that we do on obedience, we shall see tremendous change. We punish our children when they go wrong and go to great lengths as to have juvenile institutions. And yet at the end of the day, we raise children across the world all of whom have no fire in their gut to do something greater than themselves. All they want is to get a job, so they can move out of the house, pay some bills, marry their sweethearts and make babies and then repeat the metamorphosis. Come on! This has been going on for far too long, it has to stop. If you will not raise Purpose-Driven children, that decision will most definitely affect your grand children. In other words, if everything stayed constant, you are messing up the fourth generation right now.
The following pointers will show us what we can do to start raising Purpose-Driven Children. However, please note that the principle here is the principle of process. Purpose-Driven Children are not micro-waved from an expensive education system. They are raised deliberately, intentionally, incessantly and patiently over a long period of time.
From a young age, it is important to start educating children on the real importance of money. Two or three things are important when it comes to money:
This could even be more beautiful if the money that the child is raising is linked to use of their gifts and their natural talents and abilities. Children should start seeing this side of finances and resources as early as possible. The reason why we have very many “Corporate Social Responsibilities” by many companies is because we are inherently purposeless with our finances. CSR now becomes a thing for “the well to do”, something that we do when cameras are rolling and microphones are taping.
I believe if we put money in great perspective in the lives of our children at an early age, by the time they are graduating, they will be close to becoming Purpose-Driven Children. We shall continue with this thought in the next article.