I passed on to you what was most important and what has also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said…And why should we risk our lives hour by hour? For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you. And what value is there in fighting wild beasts if there will be no resurrection from the dead? And if there is no resurrection, “let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Don’t be fooled by those who say such things! …But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.Webster’s dictionary defines “goal” as: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. “Purpose” is defined: the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.
I Corinthians 15:3-4, 30-32, 57-58
As parents, we have many goals for our kids. From the minute they are born, much of our attention is focused on the milestones of our children. They learn to crawl, then walk. They say “mama” and “dada.” They giggle. They go to school, make friends, play sports, learn to read, write and play instruments, and we are right there for it all. We drive them to all the appointments and practices, attend all the games and recitals, cheering when they win and consoling them when they lose. As time goes by, our role begins to shift. We become less an active participant and more of a spectator. We spend so much of our energy trying to accomplish goals or help our kids accomplish them in the hope that one day they will live as healthy, productive adults. That’s a worthy effort. But what’s the point? Why do we do any of it? Why should they?
Sometimes, we become so focused on achieving goals, we forget about our purpose. In 1 Corinthians chapter 15 we see a powerful reminder of our ultimate purpose. Of all the doctrines and truth in Scripture, all the stories and lessons, this is most important: The Gospel story. The purpose, the reason for all of it, is the redeeming Grace of Jesus.
Without the truth of His death and resurrection, the darkness of this life would be overwhelming. Our hope comes from what He did for us! For the Christians of Jesus’ day, following Him meant literal physical danger. Our challenges are much different, but the defining purpose of a Christian’s life remains the same. We are called to serve and glorify God through the redemptive power of the Grace of Jesus.
This truth is carried into our parenting. None of our children’s accomplishments matter if they aren’t following Jesus. Mark 8:36 asks “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul?” Our goal may be to raise competent, responsible, kind adults. But our purpose is to love and serve Jesus and lead our children to Him. Our children’s goals may be to win a tournament, graduate, get into a good college, or begin a dream career. But their purpose is to love and serve Jesus. All the successes and achieved goals in the world won’t satisfy their hearts like fulfilling their purpose to follow Jesus will. And no failure or loss will be able to steal the joy and hope that following Jesus will bring them.
There’s a great deal of freedom to be found in living out our purpose. Imagine our kids living a life in which this truth is woven through everything they do—what freedom they would enjoy! Imagine what it would do for us! Goals are good. One could even make the argument that goals are necessary in order to be successful. But we should always be driven by our God-given purpose, and prayerfully striving to train our children to discover theirs.