Monday, October 4, 2010
“And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matt. 19:26
There aren't too many things in life that are not risky. Billions of dollars are made every year to cover “risk management.” Health, life and home insurance all exist to cover “risk.” But raising children may be the biggest risk of all. No matter how hard we try, there are no guarantees. But we need to be willing to let our kids take risks as they explore and experience life.
One of my favorite board games (remember board games?) is the game “Risk.” It’s the one where each player takes over countries and tries to take over the world. But at its most basic level, it is a game where the one who rolls the dice the best wins. It’s a game of chance. It’s a game of risk. And if you take over your country and decide to just hunker down and not take over the world, you lose quickly. Risk is required to win “Risk.” The same is true in life.
Life is a risk- at least an abundant life worth living. Scripture is packed full of stories of men and women who were willing to risk. They were willing to try the difficult because they had the directive of the ultimate risk manager- a loving God. When God is initiating a risky venture, even supposed failure is a success. And when we have the correct view of life’s risks, we’re freed up as parents to let our kids attempt difficult things.
When I was in 7th grade, my parents let me go on a YMCA canoe trip to the boundary waters of Northern Minnesota and Canada. Looking back, it was a huge decision for them to let me go for a week to a place a thousand miles away. They were entrusting me to unknown staff to canoe in a wilderness area in the rustic Canadian wilderness. Even now, I get nervous writing about it. What were they thinking?!
But the trip was a blast and not without it’s trials. Our camp was visited by bears several nights, I got lost for a few hours one day, portaging canoes between lakes was very hard and I missed my home. But it was so good for me to be stretched. I needed to risk and as John Eldredge writes in his “Wild at Heart” books, young men need to experience adventure.
But all too often, well meaning parents overprotect their kids. Especially today, the media describes everything as “risky.” It implies that the “good parent” will shield kids from anything that has the potential to be harmful. I’m sure not advocating that we knowingly let our kids step into danger, but I am challenging us to “back off” and let our kids experience adventure. Let them fail. Let them succeed. Let them try something crazy.
Remind them that if God is the initiator, then “all things really are possible.” Remind them that if they take that kind of risk, they’re a success whether they win or not. Challenge them to try out for the team. Let them apply for that job. Encourage them to apply to that college.
It may not all work out perfectly, but your kids will learn how to be confident to step out on their own. Don’t do it for them. Let them attempt it on their own.
That way they’ll be a success, no matter how they roll the dice.
By Eric Joseph Staples ©