Dear Sweet Children of Mine,
Can I tell y'all something? You matter. You matter a lot.
But at the same time, you don't matter MORE than others. You just don't. Your preferences, your ideas, your opinions - we promise to value them, to raise you to feel empowered to share them, to feel confident in them. But we will never teach you that what YOU want, what YOU think is more important than what someone else wants or thinks.
My prayer is that you will grow up to learn that true joy is found when life is not all about you.
We live in a world where selfishness is a virtue: "Watch out for #1!" You will have friends whose parents do everything in their power to make life better for their child, regardless of the effect it will have on you and the rest of your friends. Our culture's business practices are about making more money for the people at the top, even if it hurts the workers. You will be celebrated: you'll probably get a trophy for every sport you participate in, you'll have graduations for all the steps along the way of your elementary school career, adults will tell you that you did a great job, even when you didn't.
Not all of those things are terrible. But when you add it all up, there are a lot of things in our culture that could give you the impression that you are more important than someone else. I want you to know how deeply you are loved, how much you matter, but we hope to never tip the balance so that you think you are better than your friends. Jesus loves you deeply, just as he loves them deeply.
We want to teach you to grow up to be great.
But there's a catch. You see, Jesus changed the definition of "great." He said, "the last shall be first." After living a life of sacrifice, of serving others, he told his disciples that they will do even greater things than he did. Jesus showed us how a life of serving, one that is not all about us, is the key to greatness. Want to become great? Live like Jesus did: serve, sacrifice, love others.
So that's why we will do weird things. You might find out we've requested that you be in the class with a child who doesn't always make the best choices instead of just your best friends. We'll require that you finish out your season of whatever sport or activity you committed to. You probably won't be involved in every single activity that's offered to you. Our financial budget won't have quite as much for extras because of our commitment to missionaries and organizations working for justice. You'll be dragged out of bed early Sunday mornings to join us to serve breakfast to our homeless friends. Your dad will probably always have a 2nd job because he is committed to pastor a church with a budget where half of all that comes in as tithes must go back out - our church will never spend more on ourselves than we do on serving others.
So, dear children, the world does not revolve around you. It just doesn't. But we promise you'll find joy if you seek it in that realization.
Mom and Dad