Hindsight usually shows us what we should have said and done long after we’ve had the opportunity to say and do it. Hindsight is the Monday-morning quarterback of the really significant moments and matters of life. In many ways, hindsight builds wisdom. As Francis Bacon once said, “History makes men wise.”
But hindsight is also fuel for regret. Consider the dad who spent so much time at his job that he was filled with regret when he realized that his son had grown up and left home. . . and dad realized that he had missed out on the opportunities to spend time with his boy and shape his life. Hindsight is all too often not about saying “Wow. . . I’m so glad I did that!,” but saying “Wow. . . I wish I had done that.”
I remember that when each of my kids were born I looked carefully at each and pondered all the things I wanted to say to them, to teach them, and to do with them. . . all before they had grown up and left home. My intentionality was shaped not only by what people had told me was the right thing to do as a dad, but equally as much by those who shared with me their heartache-filled stories of doing other things at the expense of missing out on being with and shaping their kids. I haven’t gotten it all right. . . not even close! But I have understood and worked to act on the need for intentionality.
As parents, what messages do we want to intentionally pass on to our kids? And are we choosing those messages in ways that prepare them to follow, serve, and glorify God in the next chapter of their lives? Or, are we simply letting nature takes it course? We all know that they are swimming 24/7 in a soup filled with messages that shape what they think and how they live. . . not only what they think and live now, but what they will think and live for the rest of their lives.
One area of hindsight-fueled regret that I hear over and over and over again is related to how parents, youth workers, and churches have failed to prepare students for the transition from high school to college. Consider these little research snippets:
- Only one in seven high school seniors report feeling prepared to face the challenges of college life.
- Forty percent of college freshman report finding difficulty in finding a church or Christian fellowship group.
- More than half (60%) of all Christian teens and twenty somethings leave active involvement in church.