Define success the way God does.  Think about what your family is really valuing.  In what do you place your hope or put your sense of security?  What do you reward?  What or whom do you admire?  What do you financially support?  Reject the world's definition of success: wisdom, strength, or riches.  Talk and pray together as a family about how you can all more successfully pursue what matters most to God: knowing and loving Him, as well as loving and serving other people.

Demonstrate wisdom.  Ask God to give you a deep, practical understanding of what He is up to in the world so you can walk in His storyline every day and your kids can learn from your good example.

Show your kids how to make great decisions.  Rather than making all of your kids' choices for them or trying to fix their wrong choices and rescue them from the consequences, let them see your own decision-making process and learn how to make great decisions on their own.  Slow down when facing decisions to avoid impulsiveness that can lead to foolish choices.  Gather enough information to make well-informed decisions that take into account various perspectives on each situation.  Question your motives honestly before taking action on decisions you're considering.  Ask God to help you make hard decisions, and use the Bible's principles for guidance in the process.  Then commit your decisions to God, keeping in mind that God Himself is much bigger than any particular decision and can use whatever choices you make to accomplish good purposes.

Fail successfully.  You can fail successfully when you learn from your failures, and your kids learn how to do the same.  Define success in the midst of failure as the ability to continue trusting God even when you fail.

Help your kids see the world's stories through the lens of God's story.  Teach your kids how to think critically about the various stories they encounter through the world's media: movies, TV shows, music, books, the Internet, video games, etc.  Discuss together what ways those stories do or don't fit into what the Bible - God's story - tells them.  When choosing whether or not to allow your kids to consume a particular media story, ask whether or doing so will make it easier for them to sin or to do something good for God.

Encourage your kids to follow wherever God leads them.  Decide to urge your kids to pursue what God wants for them in life - even when that conflicts with what you want for them.  Encourage them to take whatever risks and make whatever sacrifices are necessary for them to follow wherever God leads them, so they can fully play the roles He intends for them in His great story.

April 7, 2010

Adapted from Real World Parents: Christian Parenting for Parents Living in the Real World, copyright 2010 by Mark Matlock.  Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich.,   

Mark Matlock has been working with youth pastors, students, and parents for two decades. He's vice president of event content at Youth Specialties and founder of WisdomWorks Ministries and PlanetWisdom.  He's the author of several books, including The Wisdom On series, Living a Life That Matters, and Don't Buy The Lie. Mark lives in Texas with his wife Jade and their two children.  To learn more, visit