"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
How did you answer that question when you were a kid?
Miss B wants to be a horse trainer. Or a veterinarian. Or a teacher. Maybe all three—she can’t decide. (Perhaps she’ll be a vet who teaches horse trainers?)
J.J., on the other hand, is certain of her future career: she’s going to be an artist. In fact, she’s already trying to sell her creations. Here’s a photo of a drawing she did last week that she offered to let me buy for “only $100.” (She’s saving up to buy a puppy, she told me.) What a deal, huh?
It’s fun to watch my kids grow into the people God made them to be. Each one is so unique! Miss B is rhythm and rhyme, J.J. is spunk and sparkle, and Buddy is charm and charisma.
As parents, there are lots of things that we can do for our kids. We can pray for them and raise them according to God’s Word. We can love them and encourage them. We can teach them and discipline them. But there is one thing we cannot do for our kids, no matter how hard we try:
We cannot re-create them.
It doesn’t matter how many parenting books you read or seminars you attend. You could follow the advice of experts or channel your own inner James Dobson. You could diligently instruct and train your child…
But you can’t change who God created your child to be.
Other people’s kids may be smarter, more athletic, or more outgoing. But one of the most dangerous things we could say to our children is this: “If only you could be more like so-and-so…”
If only you could make good grades like your brother.
If only you could behave like the neighbor’s kid.
If only you could play soccer like the coach’s child.
But God didn’t create our children to be someone else’s kids. He created them to be the best version of themselves.
In his book The Me I Want to Be, John Ortberg puts it like this:
As God helps you grow, you will change, but you will always be you. An acorn can grow into an oak tree, but it cannot become a rose bush. It can be a healthy oak or a stunted oak—but it won’t be a shrub. You will always be you—a growing, healthy you or a languishing you—but God did not create you to be anybody else. He pre-wired your temperament. He determined your natural gifts and talents. He made you to feel certain passions and desires. He planned your body and mind. Your uniqueness is God-designed.
Brett and I are doing our best to help our kids move toward a healthy, flourishing version of themselves. No matter where their paths may lead—to vet school, an art studio, or even NASA—we’re committed to support and encourage them as the unique people God created them to be.
And that goes for us grown-ups too. You'll never outgrow the person God created you to be. And no matter how much you admire others' talents or successes, you can't be someone else. You can only be you. The you God created you to be.
So what do you want to be when you grow up? Are you frustrated and exhausted from trying to be someone else—or are you moving toward God’s best version of you?