With a gold medal already in the bag, American shooter Matt Emmons was one shot away from double gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics. Matt was at the top of his game. He had already won the International Shooting Sport Federation Championship in 2002 and 2004. His final target was fifty meters away. Sitting in first place, all he had to do was hit the target for his second gold. Matt sighted the target, took a deep breath, and squeezed the trigger.Bang! Dead center. And with that shot Matt went from a gold medal to eighth place. That’s what happens when you make a perfect shot – at the wrong target.¹
That had to stink, right there. To come all that way, get distracted, momentarily take your eye off the target, your target, and lose the prize. He made a perfect shot – at someone else’s target. The wrong target. He cross-fired.
Poor Matt got zero points for hitting the other person’s target because all that really mattered was the fact that he completely missed his own.
The same holds true in parenting. We talked yesterday about our responsibility to be mighty. It is our duty to be strong and to masterfully point our kids to God as if we were gold winning archers and they were the arrows.
A joyous life. An intimate relationship. Knowing Him in the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings. That is the ultimate goal – for us, and for our kids.
That is bullseye. He is bullseye on the most important target there is. He is the bullseye on the gold medal target.
But, there are also other, daily targets, if you will. Intermediate targets that all sort of lead up to the gold medal target.
If we intend on pointing our kids the Lord Jesus, then we better concentrate on these targets. We don’t just point the bow in the general direction of the target and then forget about it. We’ve got to keep focused.
Obedience. Honesty. Consistency.
Each their own target. Each one something that we are aiming at so that we may pass it on to our kids.
Obedience. Don’t tell me that kids only learn disobedience at school, or from the deacon’s kids. They learn it from Mom and Dad too.
I don’t care what Dad says. He’s not here right now! or…My boss is crazy. I’m not filling out that report. Somebody else can do it.
Robert E. Lee said, “Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character.” That doesn’t change with age nor give license to others who are already in authority. The President of the US is subject to the laws of the land and to Congress and to the Supreme Court.
At least he should be.
Honesty. You may argue or think it trite, but the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter bunny are all examples of practices that are aimed to deceive children. They’re also unnecessary.
Just tell your kids the truth. It will be ok. They will appreciate it more than the lingering memory of a fat guy with a beard or a mystical rabbit that lays chocolate eggs.
And, just so you know that I’m not trying to be a Pharisee…give ’em chocolate eggs, just tell ’em the truth about where they came from.
Also, when you say stuff like: Son, don’t tell your momma. Or, honey, let’s just keep this between you and mommy, ok?
You’ve missed your target and shot them off in a terribly poor direction, teaching them that in certain situations it is normal and acceptable to lie. You’ve also taught them that they know north on the moral compass well enough to figure out when it is ok to lie and when it isn’t.
Consistency. If you establish a precedent with your teenager that they will be grounded for being 5 minutes late (without a valid reason, of course) and you punish them one time, you better punish them every time after that, too. Consistency is monumental in your relationship with your kids. Either it establishes good habits and upholds authority or it creates laxity and undermines that same authority.
But Mom, that’s not fair! The last time…no matter how they are said, those words have a haunting tone.
Maybe you as an arrow were never pointed at the target. Maybe you flew off course as a teenager. Now you’ve got another chance. Live uprightly in front of your kids so that you can teach them how to live uprightly too.
Be obedient. Be honest. Be consistent. Hit the target.