Friday, August 11, 2006

Parenting & Contentedness in a Culture of Mediocrity

"I want to be forced into early retirement," said a young child on a commercial from a few years back. "I want to be stuck in middle management forever," quipped another. The commercial was poking fun of the attitudes of our culture, but it brought up a stark reality.

It is claimed in the September 2006 edition of Tabletalk magazine (published by R.C. Sproul's Ligonier Ministries) that our culture is one that breeds "arrogant apathy" and "blissful boredom." One author cited the ironic nature of a teenage boy spending "hours" on his hair to make it look extremely messy - that all who saw him walking through the mall would take notice of his "I don't care" attitude.

When we parent our children, we MUST not allow this attitude to grasp them. It's not that mediocrity is bad; rather, striving for mediocrity is the fault. I was (and still am on occasion) guilty of this, especially as a university athlete. I had become "burned-out," and desired "more-important" things from my life than to continue the pusuit for athletic accomplishment. Because I was blessed with a talent, I hung in there, leaning heavily on the lyrics of the Matchbox 20 song, "Hang:"

Well I always say, it would be good to go away.
But if things don't work out like we think
And there's nothing there to ease this ache
But if there's nothing there to make things change
If it's the same for you, I'll just hang.

Looking back, this was a great sin, because I buried my one talent in the ground. Yeah, it remained that one talent, and I "persevered" through the final two years of my career, but I was satisfied with mediocrity.

I didn't find contentment in the pursuit of do all things with great effort to the glory of God. The apostle Paul did. He labored continuously to the glory of God; he knew when he was done (Romans 15:14-33 and 2 Timothy 4:6-8), and he didn't quit before that time came. I did. I don't want my children to repeat my error.

Paul learned contentedness whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:10-11). He even calls it a "secret." He taught his understudy, Timothy, this secret in 1 Timothy 6:6-8:
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Verse 9 talks about the problem of our culture: "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction."

But here's where I get confused. If our culture is breeding a passion for apathy and mediocrity, then from where is this pursuit for more-and-more coming? How do I taech my children that it is wise stewardship to invest in a Roth IRA without discouraging them from being content without any retirement savings?

We need to breed Christian children who labor for the Lord and who are content in any and every circumstance and situation. Whatever life may bring, give glory to God.

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