Launching Our Kids Toward Greatness
About the Guest
On the broadcast today, Tim Kimmel, Executive Director of Family Matters and author of the book Raising Kids for True Greatness, asks parents to consider whether or not they are raising their children for true greatness and influence or whether they're raising them to live a life marked by comfort and ease.
Tim Kimmel asks parents to consider whether or not they are raising their children for true greatness and influence.
Launching Our Kids Toward Greatness
Bob: You may have heard people talk about raising a generation of Daniels and Esthers, young men and women who will stand for their convictions. Is that happening today? And, if not, why not? Here is Dr. Tim Kimmel.
Tim: We wonder why raising our kids in Christian homes -- maybe homeschooling them, putting them in a Christian school, whatever -- we've done all these things, taught them the Bible, and then they go off into the future without a true, passionate heart for God. And it's because that stuff is not transferred academically. That is a relationship of the heart that comes from the model of a parent.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, September 25th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. As a parent, do you know the difference between raising your children for success and raising them for greatness?
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. What's that quote you've used about the right harbor -- aiming for the right -- what is that quote?
Dennis: The Roman philosopher, Seneca, a personal friend of mine …
Bob: … you and Seneca go way back.
Dennis: We go waaaaaay back there -- "You must know for which harbor you are headed if you are to catch the right wind to take you there."
Bob: Do you think most Christian parents today know what harbor they're headed for as they try to raise their children?
Dennis: They're just heading for one.
Bob: Just get me somewhere quick!
Dennis: Get me to a safe place, because this is challenging.
Bob: The water is choppy out here.
Dennis: Well, we have a harbor-producing guest on FamilyLife Today.
Bob: The harbormaster, that's what we'll call him.
Dennis: If parents are in the perfect storm right now, and they're a little seasick, we've got someone who can help them. He's a great friend of ours -- Dr. Tim Kimmel joins us on FamilyLife Today. Tim, welcome back.
Tim: Well, thanks for letting me be back.
Bob: Can we just call you "Captain Tim" for the rest of the voyage here?
Tim: Oh, man alive, I feel like a riverboat captain or one of those tugboat guys. But those guys do play a key role in getting us there. I don't know whether I'm the guy for you, but that harbor thing is right on the money.
Dennis: Yeah, yeah, well, Tim is the executive director of Family Matters, which is all about producing harbors for parents and grandparents, and I would have to say the right harbor, going back to the analogy here. Tim and his wife Darcy speak at our Weekend to Remember conferences all around the country, and he's authored -- how many books, Tim? I'm sorry, I don't have enough hands, toes, fingers, all that stuff …
Dennis: Nine? Seriously?
Bob: What happened to your hands and toes and fingers?
Dennis: Well, really, there, I thought -- I honestly would have guessed it would have been over 20.
Tim: No. Nine books that I've written and then we've done some other things that some people would call them books, but I don't call them a book.
Bob: It's nine books, but they've sold 20 copies, all told.
Tim: Yeah, that's it, that's it.
Dennis: That's what I was trying to do.
Tim: Yeah. You know, you are the kind of friends that I always feel that when I'm at death's door, you'll be there to help me through. I mean, there's nothing like you …
Bob: … we'll be pushing.
Dennis: Exactly right. Well, number nine is "Raising Kids for True Greatness," and you make a statement in here, Tim -- I want you to clarify this. You say a person can be successful without coming close to being truly great. Now, what do you mean by that? What really is true greatness?
Tim: Well, Dennis, the whole point of this book is that it is real easy to fall into the success trap when it comes to raising our kids; that we are Western people who are running everything around us through Western filters and as Americans in a capitalistic society, we have a bad habit of measuring success by things that can be quantified in ways that are beneficial to us.
Dennis: Like financial?
Dennis: You're saying those are the harbors -- those are the harbors that parents are headed towards today.
Tim: Yeah. I can make this real simple. When you pin down a typical Christian parent -- and I've pinned a lot of them down, talked with thousands of them over the years -- and you just have these real heart-to-hearts -- okay, now, you're spending 18, 20 years, a ton of sweat labor, a bunch of money, putting some serious miles on your body, losing a lot of sleep, crying a lot of tears, that's a lot of effort. What do you hope happens as a result of all your efforts?
Now, they might say something nice like "Well, I hope they have a heart for God," and that's nice, and I'm sure they mean that. But what you go by is not what they're saying at that moment but what they're doing on a day-to-day basis as far as emphasizing the values of that child and their future.
And so when you really actually play that one out, you'll her something like this -- "Well, I hope they get a good job." Now, we've got the word "good" in front of "job." How would I know it's a good job? Well, usually, that's defined by one that pays well. Why do they need all this money? Well, life's expensive, and I want them to have opportunities and live in a good, safe neighborhood.
Bob: I want them to get off my payroll is basically what I want.
Tim: Yeah, what is it? In by 12, out by 18, you know? But a lot of reasons they do that, though, is because we are of a generation that did have a windfall of middle class life, and we think that you can't be happy or satisfied without that. And, by the way, that's why I think education is so sovereign now in a parent's mind. They think that the most important thing you do is give your kid a good education, because that is the pipeline to a good job.
Dennis: And what you're saying is "time out." Education, as such, may not be the right harbor.
Tim: Not only that, in the book, "Raising Kids for True Greatness," I document it, because studies have been done -- in fact, they've done clear studies of the wealthiest people out there, the most successful people -- the way the world measures it, and the fact is that most of them struggle getting a decent SAT. They went to a local junior college for starters, couldn't make it into a Division 1 or Ivy League, and they are very, very successful in the world's eyes. The deca-millionaires and on up tend to be people that were -- well, struggled in school.
In fact, here is a rule of thumb -- traditionally, the A students teach the B students how to work for the C students. That's the way it is. Now, that doesn't mean that the A students may not make a good income, but as far as truth wealth, that's not necessarily what's waiting for a great student.
Bob: And it ought not be our aim in the first place.
Bob: Whether we're making an idol out of your future job or out of your IQ, that shouldn't be our focus as parents.
Dennis: And I want to say this, too -- we're not mocking education.
Tim: Not at all.
Dennis: We're not saying it's unimportant. Tim, you have an earned degree, a doctorate.
Tim: Absolutely. We're sitting -- here's a table with highly educated people, we read all the time, we see its clear role in effectively living, but it is not to be worshipped.
Tim: It is not what we're living our lives for, it is a means to an end.
Dennis: Okay, back to the question. What, then, is true greatness?
Tim: I'm not going to answer it yet, because I want to set one more -- two more -- well, three more things up, and then I'll …
Dennis: That's more books than you've written.
Tim: Okay, but let's make sure we know what success is. I want them to have a good job. What else? Well, I want them to marry somebody that looks pretty cool in the Christmas photos, somebody that makes good-looking grandkids. Beauty is also a very high priority to parents today. They want their kids to look good, they want them to hang out with good-looking people -- we worship beauty in our success-driven society.
Dennis: No doubt about it.
Tim: Third, I would like them to have some control over their destiny. I don't want them to be at the mercy of all the forces and the whims of the culture, of the marketplace, whatever. And so there's power. So we've got wealth, beauty, and power. And then the fourth one is -- well, I'd love for them to get some recognition for their hard-earned efforts, and there's the fame. So -- wealth, beauty, power, fame become the true targets of typical parents. And, Dennis and Bob, we unwittingly do this, and, as I say in the book, a simple way to see this is just wait until December, and you get the Christmas cards and the annual reports are in there. Open them up, take those four filters …
Bob: The Christmas newsletter?
Dennis: I'm thinking about Bob's newsletter.
Bob: I'm already under conviction on this, all right? When you …
Dennis: He writes the best Christmas newsletter of any …
Bob: Cut me some slack here.
Dennis: Of any I receive.
Tim: Well, and I love to read them, and I'm very interested in the accomplishments of my friends' kids and all that stuff, but when you see wealth, beauty, power, fame, you put those in front of them, you'll see it jumping out. "My son is the captain of the football team," "She's the president of Student Council," "He's going to a Division 1 school," "She got a 1500 on the SAT."
Dennis: I'll never forget getting one from a friend, his name is Armand. He coached his kids to the Little League World Series. That same year, I was coaching my kids, and they won two games and lost 15.
Bob: And I bet you didn't put that in the Christmas newsletter you sent out, did you?
Tim: And, by the way, you know how we have to qualify everything we say, because that could easily be saying that we're not interested in the good things that happen. We are. It's just that when you read them, many times you see that the true values that are in this home are about things about being the head of the game, being top of the league, having power, having influence, having recognition. Here's the problem …
Dennis: … and then you've got the picture for the beauty.
Tim: Yeah, that's right. And, by the way, I get all your Christmas photos; you get mine. We have beautiful families. We wake up next to beautiful women.
Bob: We have smart kids.
Tim: We have smart kids, highly educated …
Dennis: Airbrushed photos are wonderful.
Tim: Let's hear it for Photoshop.
Tim: But here's the problem -- is that God places no value on any of those four things in the Bible -- none. He does not place any value on them as far as life impact or a reason to live your life for. And here's something else that we need to know -- you don't need God's help to raise a successful kid, if that's how you're measuring them. My unbelieving neighbors are aiming their kids exact same four things, and they're doing an excellent job. And, thirdly, they're aiming low because true greatness is a better thing and now, if you would like me to, I'd be glad to give you a definition of it.
Bob: Well, and before you do that, I just want to emphasize what you've already said, because I think it's convicting for us, as parents. We easily fall into the trap, as Christian parents, of setting our sights on what everybody around us is setting their sights on for our kids, and I'm thinking about this year's Christmas newsletter and how it needs to be different. I'm thinking about how I ought to be spending more time highlighting and celebrating …
Dennis: That's the key word, right there, what do you celebrate?
Bob: That's right. And I ought to be celebrating true greatness, which you can now define for us.
Tim: Yes, and even before I do that, why are we trying it? Because, see, when we measure success that way, it's easy to quantify -- wealth, beauty, power, fame -- it's very easy to quantify, and there is something in it for us in every one of those. But, see, God didn't call us to live our lives for ourselves. And Jesus -- in Matthew, chapter 20, you know, is confronted by a mom, one of the disciples' mother, and she came to Jesus with her sons, and she asked Him a favor, and He said, "What is it you want?" She says "Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom."
Now, you see the success illusion has touched this mom and these boys and, first of all, He says, "You don't know what you're asking for and, secondly, it's not my call. That's the Father's call." But while we're on the subject, He says, "Look, you know that the rulers of the Gentiles lorded over them and their high officials exercised authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave. Just as the Son of Man," and He uses Himself as an example. Did not come here to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.
And so here is how I define true greatness, dovetailing off of Jesus' words -- a truly great kid is one you send into the future that -- a child that has a passionate love for Jesus Christ that shows itself in an unquenchable love and concern for others. It's that simple.
Dennis: So it's the Great Commandment.
Tim: It's the Great Commandment.
Dennis: Love God and love others as yourself.
Tim: Yeah. That's all it is. And when the DNA of our families is geared towards raising those kinds of kids, now we're doing effective parenting because we're raising kids to live their lives for something bigger than their life by living their lives for others. But it can't be -- guys, I think this could be done cosmetically and artificially, and it won't be genuine. It has to dovetail from a true, deep, abiding faith and love for Jesus Christ. So let's hit the hard part right now. I think that's why a lot of parents get scared of it, because it's so much easier to go the success route.
Dennis: Well, the spiritual is not easily as measurable as backing your child up against the doorsill and putting a mark on the wall in terms of how tall are they? Or taking their grade cards out and taking a look at what their grades have been, what their accomplishments have been in school, and so when you get ready to write the Christmas letter like Bob's talking about, what do you celebrate? You don't celebrate the choices of character, the choices your child made to follow Christ courageously. We typically celebrate those accomplishments like making cheerleader, making the basketball game, making a lot of points, or scoring a lot of runs. And so we fall right into the same trap that the world's in.
Bob: And I have to be honest with you, I’m sitting here thinking about the fact that if you had come to me prior to this conversation and said, "Bob, what's your agenda for your kids, what do you care most about?" I think I would have said, "I want them to have a real passion for Christ. I want them to love God and love others." But then if you had said, "Okay, now tell me what you're doing in your family to make sure that you're on target for that priority." That's where I'd have had to go, "You know, I think I know what the right harbor to head for is, but I'm sailing left and right through the seas here because I hear the siren song of the culture pulling me in different directions."
Dennis: Well, Bob, it's not a cookie-cutter deal. I mean, it's not a simple A+B+C=D. Every child is different, and they grab hold of this thing called "faith in Christ" in different ways, and they've all got their own wills. They have to learn on their own to follow Christ.
Bob: Why is it that parents who understand what the right thing to do is, aren't just automatically doing it? They know where to point their kids for the right harbor, but they're not raising their kids for true greatness.
Tim: Because we're talking about a life of faith here, and it's not quantified and measured the same ways, and it really requires that you trust God for unknowns, and I would much rather get a tutor and get some kind of a slick plan for my kid to know I have greased the skids for their future. But, see, in the process, I have set them up to be an indulged, self-driven person in the future. We wonder why raising our kids in Christian homes -- maybe homeschooling them, putting them in a Christian school, whatever -- we've done all these things, taught them the Bible, and then they go off into the future without a true passionate heart for God, and it's because that stuff is not transferred academically. That is a relationship of the heart that comes from the model of a parent.
I think our fears also control us. We think, "How could they possibly be happy as expensive as life is unless they have a really good job, and I don't want my kids pushed around."
Bob: Even if you do embrace eternal values, guys, I'm telling you, when you're 21-year-old daughter comes and says, "I want to go spend a year in Vietnam in a city where, as far as I know, my friend and I will be the only two Christians there. We're going to teach English and maybe God will give us some opportunities to share Christ." Well, I embrace eternal values, but she's 21. I'd rather have her be in a place where she can go to church on Sunday and be in a good Sunday school class.
Tim: And, while she's at it, maybe draw a nice little paycheck along the way and set herself up for a dowry for her future husband.
Bob: Instead of pointing our kids toward success, as you've defined it here, you say we ought to be pointing them toward greatness, loving God, and loving others, and you say, as parents, we ought to be focused on what you call "the trinity of true greatness." What are you talking about?
Tim: Well, all of our kids have to make three huge decisions in life, and how we configure their value system is going to determine whether they make those decisions properly. First decision is what's their mission in life going to be? Now, we all have -- we can think of mission as a job, a vocation, we go get a paycheck. But that's really not a mission, that's a job. It's how we do that job, why we do that job, how we use that job to influence others. That's more the mission. So what their mission is going to be, who their mate is going to be, and, see, if I'm choosing my mate strictly on superficial things like beauty, which is so silly because of gravity that continues its pull and works us all over, then I'm going to be trouble.
Okay, so the first one is what's my mission in life going to be? Secondly, who is my mate going to be? And, thirdly, who is my master going to be? When we buy into the success trap, and we aim our kids at those things that coddle to their selfish desires and their ego satisfaction, we set them up to miss the whole point on having a great mission in life and being the kind of mate that can truly bring the best out of somebody and go the long haul and have a great life together and then having submission to the real Master of our life, the Lord Jesus.
Bob: You said something I don't want you to skip over too quickly there, and that is whether we're focused on greatness or success, in large part, depends on the question Bob Dylan asked years ago when he said, "You've got to serve somebody."
[Bob Dylan singing]
We are slaves to someone or something.
Dennis: Something is going to be master over you.
Bob: And that's going to determine what harbor you're sailing for.
Tim: What we're talking about here is the essence of effective parenting, because if we get side-trapped into thinking that this is about education and all these other superficial things, and that they have a nice life in the future, we forget that this life is a preamble to eternity. And God is about a kingdom that lasts forever. And when we think that this is about a life that lasts for 72 years, we've missed the whole point.
Dennis: And what you've really challenged us to here, Tim, is to pull back and say what is life all about? Is this it? Is it just a collection of goodies, stuff, and see whose burn pile is largest at the end of the deal when you torch it? Or is it about something beyond the curtain of time called eternity and about a spiritual plan that sometimes may be hidden that is more real than the chairs we're all sitting in and the table that we're leaning against right now. We're talking about what God is accomplishing on planet earth, and if you want to be successful in raising children, you need to be a part of giving your children a vision for how they can fit into God's plan.
Bob: Yeah, we're really talking this week about reevaluating our priorities as parents and pulling back and asking the questions, what really does matter as we raise our children and is what we're doing as parents building into those things that really do matter? And that's where I have found your book to be a helpful realignment, I think, for all of us, as parents.
The book is called "Raising Kids for True Greatness," and it gives us an opportunity to reevaluate and readjust and set some fresh goals around things that are really going to make a difference in our children's lives if we have a kingdom mindset as we raise our sons and our daughters. We've got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center. Again, it's called "Raising Kids for True Greatness, Redefining Success for You and Your Child," by our guest today, Dr. Tim Kimmel. If you'd like to get a copy of the book, contact us here at FamilyLife. The best way to do that is by going online at FamilyLife.com. When you get to our home page, in the middle of the home page you'll see a red button that says "Go." Just look for that. Click on that button. It will take you right to the page where you'll get more information about Tim's book and about other resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife designed to help you have the right priorities in mind as you raise your sons and your daughters. Again, the title of the book, "Raising Kids for True Greatness," and I might mention we have another book that you've just written on our website as well. It's called "Fifty Ways to Really Love Your Kids," how you can build into them emotionally as you raise them for true greatness. And any of our listeners who would like to get both of these books, we'll be happy to send at no additional cost the two CDs that feature this entire week's worth of programs so that you can review them again together as a couple or pass them along to those who might benefit from hearing these programs.
All the details are on our website at FamilyLife.com. Click the red "Go" button on the home page, and you can order online, if you'd like. You can also call us at 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. Someone on our team can let you know how you can have these resources delivered to you at home or at work.
You know, I mentioned that this week's programs are available on two CDs. A number of weeks ago we had Shaunti Feldhahn as a guest on our program talking about the book that she's written called "For Women Only," and the CDs of that radio series were very popular with our listeners. We had a number of our listeners who contacted us and wanted to either review that material or pass it on to somebody, because Shaunti was talking about how a wife can better understand what's going on inside her husband's heart and how she can -- well, how she can love him better, how she can respect him more, how she can minister more effectively to her husband.
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Well, tomorrow we want to continue to probe what true greatness looks like in our children and what we can do as parents to help orient our children in the right direction. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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