Target Shooting for Teens

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Target Shooting for Teens

  My oldest has embarked on the final quarter of his junior year.  What naturally accompanies this season is the swirl of activities surrounding ACT and SAT prep, college admissions presentations, and almost every adult in his life asking him about his plans after graduation.  He attends a really good public high school full of bright, driven, high-achieving students who have bright, driven, high-achieving parents.  We are so very grateful that our kids have been blessed with this as our neighborhood school, but the pressure can be tremendous.  This morning he really wanted to pull the covers over his head and pretend it all didn’t exist. And it is so hard to watch him struggle against a reality that will always be a part of his life – this increasing demand to perform will never, ever go away.  Sometimes I would like to whisk him back to a time when his greatest responsibilities were picking up his toys and remembering to raise his hand during circle time.   When an ice cream cone solved an awful lot of problems. His burdens are heavier now.  This is his world, and he has to live in it.  But, if we can help it at all, he will not be of it. So, we talk to him a lot about what kind of man we hope he will be.  And how not a single element of that vision we have for him has anything to do with his GPA, his class rank, his college entrance exam score, or the major he will choose.  That our dreams for him do not include a six figure salary, a corner office, an impressive title, or the privileges of that life.  Oh, we will rejoice with him if those things come his way, but only if they are a byproduct of who we really want him to become – a man who loves His Savior with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength.  And who loves His people even more than he loves himself. And if he never gets to experience the trappings of worldly success, we will be there to remind him that those things were not his end goal anyway.  This aim is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive and counter-everything the world, with its deafening lies, would like to tell us is true.  But, if we listen with discernment, we can still hear His call.  Not to the cover of Forbes with an audience of millions, but to the foot of His throne with an audience of One. Therefore, we have invested just enough in encouraging our son’s education that he will be a capable, productive, contributing member of society.  But we continue to invest more than enough in encouraging his character to the degree that we hope he will go anywhere that God asks him to go and do anything that God asks him to do.   A much more significant call.  The real purpose of his education, and the discipline that it requires, is simply preparation for that call – to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with the Lord. We are aiming our son so much higher than the target the world would have for him.  And, though he will make his way in this same world, jump through its hoops, play by its rules, and be judged by its standards – all the while he will shoot for a different bull’s-eye.  He’ll know the true measure of a successful man. Unfortunately for him, he also knows he is only getting five more minutes with the covers over his head before he has to get up this morning to go take the ACT.  This is his world, and he has to live in it. But afterwards we’re getting ice cream cones.

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