How to raise kids to change the world

Yesterday, the last 3 seconds  of an advertisement caught my eye. It was a boy about 11 or 12 talking about doing well in school and ended with the line, “then I can be a scientist, and I can change the world.”

I saw this ad at the same time that I’m preparing for a class that I’ll be teaching at the College of New Jersey. The class is called Society, Ethics, and Technology. I’m reading Neil Postman’s Technopoly in preparation for teaching the class. I don’t think Postman is so keen on children wanting to be scientists so they can change the world. I think he’s agreed that scientists and engineers are changing the world, but not necessarily in a good way. I’ll reserve judgment of both the book and the philosophy for now.

This series of things did get me to thinking about what parents should be doing as they lead their children into their future. Should parents teach their children to want to change the world? 

Maybe there’s a better goal for parents than telling their children they have to be scientists, politicians, lawyers, rock stars, or megachurch pastors to change the world. Maybe your child will become one of these things, but the people who really change the world are the people who live life in Christ as people of character.

How do you guide your children to live lives of good character? Try these three things.

  1. Live a life of faith and character before them. Make your faith central in your life.
  2. Work to surround your children with people of character.
  3. Move the target. If you teach that worldly success (being a great scientist or whatever) is the goal in life, their character will always be competitive. If you teach them to be loving and faithful, their character will be more loving and faithful.

People best change the world when Christ lives through their lives, humbly serving him wherever they are. I hope many children have great careers as scientists and other notable jobs, but I hope that in those careers they are focused being men and women of character, more than on dominating the field, their company leadership structure, or the world. Your children will be successful when they are comfortable with what Christ is doing in their life.

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