A couple of years ago soon after our son had graduated ASU with a degree in graphic design, we had a talk. It seemed that he was concerned about making the right career decision (When I got out of school, my only concern was how much someone might decide to pay me.) Being a graphic designer there are a wide variety of opportunities these days in which one may apply his or her trade, many of which have to do with marketing, advertising, and sales. Now Ben was in a quandary as to the real possibility of being involved with selling something to someone that didn’t really need it (that never happens!) or promoting something that might be contrary to his personal moralities. (Ah, sweet innocent youth!) That was also about the time that I found my expectations for myself and my children, heck, for most people make a drastic turn. Once you come to the realization that this earthly life is but a drop in the sea of eternity in which we were created to dwell, a switch goes off. That switch that tells you that God has greater work for His creations than material success in this life.
Almost all parents (myself included) concern themselves with which schools their kids will attend, the sports or extracurricular activities in which they will participate, or the career they will ultimately choose. Our focus is in getting and keeping our children on a path that we think will lead them to happiness and success in life. We have been given a formula early on which sets our expectations: go to school, get good grades, stay out of trouble, get in a good college, get good grades, get a ‘good’ job, find a spouse, get married, raise a family, and do it again. Oh yeah, associate with like minded people, can’t forget that!
Well, while these may be worthy pursuits, does any of it (including staying out of trouble) align with the work that God has planned for us? “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.” – Eph. 2:10 And, what is at the core of all of the work that God has prepared for us to do? Very simply this: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. – Matt 22:36-40. This is the essence of being a good soul. (So, that sweet innocence is something that we do want to hold on to beyond our youth.) And although scientists, mathematicians, contractors, accountants, engineers, doctors, bakers, plumbers, tent-makers, and graphic designers are all noble professions, none are what God has called us out to be. God needs good souls first and foremost and it is here where our efforts as parents and role-models must begin and end. I might be going out on a limb here, but I’m pretty sure that God is not overly concerned about His good souls that may have flunked a calculus class or two, or failed to make the varsity lacrosse team.