As parents we naturally want the best for our children. When we find something they enjoy or discover a measure of talent we want to invest. I think that’s kind of normal.
When it comes to prioritizing time and money we generally pursue talent development over faith development and this could come with real consequence.
According to a 2017 article in USA today…
“Nearly 20% of U.S. families spend more than $12,000 a year, or $1,000 per month, on youth sports, per child, according to a TD Ameritrade survey of parents between 30 and 60 years old with $25,000 in investable assets with kids currently playing youth sports or ones that did. That’s in line with the median mortgage payment of $1,030 that Americans make monthly, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”
And that’s just youth sports. When you take into account all aspects of talent development and consider the time and money associated, the collective investment of families on talent development is unknown but likely astronomical. While the development of talent is a good thing, it’s not the only thing, or even the main thing.
Here’s a question? What kind of time and money do we invest when it comes to the faith development of our children? I don’t have clear data at hand to answer that question but my hunch is that it pales in comparison to the time and money we spend on talent development.
It may be a bigger issue than that though. In America our identity is often in “what we do.” So for a child who becomes a teenager whose parents are highly invested in their talent, they will likely identify first as a dancer, baseball player, a band member, soccer player, or whatever. To the entire western world, this is normal and celebrated.
As Christian parents we long for more: To see our children grow into adults who walk with Jesus all of their days. Our biblical mandate is to teach them to love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love their neighbor as themselves. We pray their identity is formed in Christ. If our priorities are evidenced by our behaviors and our pursuits are resourced with our time and money, are we investing in their faith development in ways even in the same ball park as their talent development? Only you can answer that question for your family.
One day our children will discover an end to their talent which is paramount in their current lives. When I was 20 years old, after a good run with soccer, I ripped a hamstring, rehabbed and recovered, and then ripped the other one. Over. My faith however, developed first by my parents and then by so many others, continues to grow and help me move forward on the mountain tops and in the deepest valleys of life.
I am concerned that, as parents, we pursue talent development over faith development and one day our children will discover talent doesn’t always help and their faith is shallow especially when life is painful or difficult. The consequence here can be eternal.