This sounds so funny but I think it is essential in parenting. Did you know that most of our kids as they mature just want to be normal? As parents, I think this scares us because we don’t want our kids to be normal, we want extraordinary! We see their potential to be extraordinary and so we set about the task of holding them accountable to extraordinary. However, we you think about it- doesn’t extraordinary depend on what you deem as ordinary? This is where I fear as Christians we have gone devastatingly wrong. What do we see has ordinary? If we go by the world’s standard of normal we are setting ourselves up for moral decline at an expedient rate. However, you need to understand that your child is constantly being bombarded with the world’s version of normal. Everywhere they turn they see it: what does normal look like, how does normal behave? Take a look at the television, movies, and music of your children’s era and see the morality of normal. If this scares you, I think it should, my oldest are six and it scares me! And while it is scary, I think there is proper way to combat it- we must redefine our normal.
The typical response to the declining moral normal of the world is to set extraordinary standards for you children and then try to inspire them to reach those standards. And while I think that we should desire this for our kids there is a fatal flaw in the approach. Have you ever tried to be extraordinary every day? How did that work out for you? Let me use a sports analogy for you: in baseball there is a very rare feat of a perfect game for a pitcher. This is a game where he gives up no hits and no walks. This game hardly ever happens and is extremely special when it does: extraordinary. However, as a pitching coach I do not plan on my pitchers throwing a perfect game every game and so I have to find a way to change their idea of success and their idea of normal. Can you imagine the disappointment if I demanded and held my pitchers to the standard of a perfect game every time they pitched? Yes, they might seem like they were working hard in practice but it would be motivated by fear and would have negative effects on their emotional, mental and physical performances. No, as a pitching coach I give my pitchers the tools to raise their standard of normal to a highly effective level and then dare them to enjoy the moment because when you are consistent in your preparation you allow yourselves the ability to be extraordinary on occasion.
I believe that in our Christian walk the same principle should apply: raising our standard of normal. Unfortunately, I think that we often expect the extraordinary without ever giving consideration to the standards of normal. We have these mountaintop, emotional, spiritual experiences and we try to hold on to them as long as we can without ever considering the reality of what coming down off that mountain looks like. Consider Moses for a moment. We always focus on the times when Moses went up the mountain and had these epic events; however, when he came down he had this massive group of people whining non-stop! Don’t you know that Moses just wanted to stay on the mountain? But, life and movement doesn’t happen on the mountains, it happened wondering around in the desert with the whining Israelites.
So what do we do? Well, let's not abandon the example of Moses just yet. Moses did come down off the mountain from those extraordinary moments and when he did, I believe that he redefined normal. Moses understood where his power came from and while he was not perfect (striking the rock) he did know the importance of time with God. Moses set up the Tent of Meeting and later the Tabernacle as a place to focus on his relationship with God. He redefined his normal but then he also redefined the normal of his people. Moses listened to God and when the people of Israel would stop and camp along the journey he had them set up the Tabernacle in the middle of camp. In fact, if you go and map out the way the tribes were divided you will see them set up in the shape of a cross with the Tabernacle in the center! While the people whined and complained the whole way and it was never easy for Moses, he did redefine what normal was for the people.
As parents, we too can redefine normal. If we can put Christ at the center of our life and dedicate our time, effort and emotion to Him, we can begin redefining what normal is for our children. And when we redefine normal, we can then start daring our children to reach for the extraordinary! How does this happen? Well, just like with Moses we have to begin by modeling it. If Christ is not at the center of our priorities then it will be very difficult to challenge your children to make that a part of their normalcy. Once, we begin to model it then we have to get active in discovering their sense of normal. Use the situations presented to you (a television show, friendship drama, a song, a broken relationship, etc…) to guide them towards realizing the influences in their lives. And once they realize the things around them, then you can challenge them to reach for a more Godly ideal of normal. As you begin to see that normalcy taking hold, continue to raise the standard and begin to dare them to dream of the extraordinary. I believe that it is in this process that our children will begin to pursue the extraordinary character of God. When they get a glimpse of who God is and how He loves them- it is in those moments that you will see them dream of an abundant life.
I hope that as a body of Christ we can begin to plan for the normal and reach for the extraordinary!