By: Vincent Weaver
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, in my “other life”, I teach business classes at a local college. Time and time again, fitting analogies come to mind tying business concepts to the family, as well as the reverse. (In a recent blog, we looked at cohabitation and its similarities to the “joint venture” strategy.)
Along these lines, I recall a conversation I had years ago with a good friend. We were talking about the busy-ness of life as a parent, as well as choices for a child’s education and making sure we choose well for our children in this regard. After listening to my friend verbally explore several possible options for what paths his kids might take in the future, how he and his wife would save for their kids’ college education, and how he could make sure he was doing right by his kids, he then asked for my input. I thought about this for a moment and replied, “’Jim’, I have one job – and only one job as a dad. That job is to get my kids to heaven. Nothing else matters.” Let’s just say this was a bit of a conversation stopper. Jim opened his mouth to reply, then closed it again. He looked at me and started to speak again, then stopped. Finally, he just said, “You’re right.” (Call it a “Holy Spirit moment”. This wisdom certainly didn’t come from me. The words just sort of showed up with me as a curious bystander.)
Nevertheless, in thinking about this concept further – the concept of goal-oriented parenting – it really does provide a parent with a great deal of clarity. Imagine if all of our decisions started and ended with the question, “Is this action helping me or my children draw closer to Christ?” Another friend of mine relayed a story to me about a conversation he once had with his teenage son. The dad was expressing concern with a certain song his son was listening to. The son said, “But dad, what’s wrong with it?” The dad’s reply was clear and immediate. He said, “Son, it’s not a matter of what is ‘wrong’ with it, but what VALUE does it provide?”
This is where another one of our business analogies comes into play. “Value-chain management” is the idea of a business continuously analyzing all of the steps in their business processes to make sure every step – EVERY step – is adding value for the customer as the end user. Any step that is superfluous, distracting, redundant, or inefficient is improved or eliminated. This concept requires managers looking at their business model from start to finish and asking a lot of questions about why they’re doing what they’re doing. “Because we’ve always done it that way” isn’t an acceptable answer!
What if we all parented like this? What if each of us regularly took a step back and looked at our day (and our week, our month, our year and our decade, for that matter) to make an honest assessment of how we’re spending our time raising our kids? If “value” is defined as helping get our kids to heaven, then what are we doing to distract from that? In what ways are we abdicating our parental influence to our kids’ peers or to the media? What are we doing that’s superfluous? What actually pulls our kids in the opposite direction of heaven?
If we did this kind of analysis on a regular basis – value-chain management for parents – what would we find? Maybe so much focus on buying them “stuff” would suddenly give us pause. Maybe what we spend money on ourselves would seem a little out-of-whack. Maybe we’d think twice about some of the movies, songs, video games, or Internet sites we let them see or listen to. (It might also make us think twice about what we, ourselves, listen to, watch, etc.) Maybe so much busy-ness and so little one-on-one time with our kids (or as a family) would seem a bit misguided. Maybe the education our kids are receiving (or not receiving) would be deserving of an overhaul.
Perhaps what is most important for us as parents is to want to get to heaven ourselves. Jesus doesn’t want us to love Him out of obligation. He wants us to “want to” love Him – to seek Him in all that we do, and want to make Him our One and Only. (Is the old “Cheap Trick” song coming to mind? Click on this link with the lyrics, and then imagine Jesus singing this to you. Yes, a few of the lines miss the mark, but hearing this through the Jesus spectrum gives the song a brand new meaning.) If our kids see and hear this “want to” in us, that joy and enthusiasm for all that is “of value” will become contagious. May we all teach our young apprentices well.