“Train a child in the right way, and when she is older, she will not stray from it…” – Proverbs 22:6
So I have been spending much time, thought, and prayer into this question of what it means to live fully. And today I have one clearly defining answer. Because today, I celebrate my oldest child’s 13th birthday.
We began this day like all other birthdays in our house. With a celebratory breakfast, presents, and cake (or in her case, pie) for breakfast. We do this for all of us, because, maybe like some of you, we may not all be home together for dinner. A sad commentary, but a reality in our busy lives. So breakfast it is.
And for this all-important move into adulthood, one of her gifts was a brand new investment account, all her own, with cash ready for her to learn how investments work. We will spend the precious few years we have left with her (ONLY FIVE!!!) teaching her how to manage her own portfolio.
When my son, 11, asked me if he too would receive his own account at 13. I told him that, yes, that was my plan. As he began planning what he would do with his “riches,” I explained something very important to him. And I realized that it is one of my highest callings in this life.
I explained that we would not just be “giving him money.” But, instead, as his mom, it was my calling to teach him and his sister three critical things in this life before they leave home:
- I have to teach them how to have a relationship with Jesus.
- I have to teach them how to provide for their own needs.
- I have to teach them how to handle their money.
If I do those three things, then I will have prepared them for life. Because everything else flows from these three disciplines: compassion, good relationships, good citizenship, independence, good decision and problem-solving skills – the list goes on.
Some of you may disagree, and that’s ok. But for me, it is crystal clear that I don’t have a lot of time left. And I have a lot teach about daily life, along with the spiritual and the relational. And I don’t believe that God would have given me these two gifts without expecting me to make caring for them my top priority.
A side note, I don’t believe that caring for them means doing everything for them. I believe it means teaching them to do for themselves. I believe it means creating an environment where I model how to live a disciple’s life, and encourage them to develop their own faith. It means making sure they can cook their own meals, clean their own homes, and make their own doctor appointments. It means helping them to learn to deal with difficult people, disappointing circumstances, and hard choices. And yes, it means teaching them to work for what they get and to take care of it once they have it.
This might not seem like a great life ambition to some. But to me, with only FIVE YEARS left, it seems pretty sacred. From here on out, I will live as a teacher.