Kids, Pressures, Priorities, Parents. . . and The Gospel. . .

It’s right there on the front page of our local paper this morning: “Cocalico changes ranking system: Does away with the class rank in favor of percents.” One of our local high schools is doing away with making it possible for students to take Advanced Placement courses in order to pad their class rank. And, they are doing away with the traditional class ranking system that names a Valedictorian and Salutatorian in each senior class. Instead, they are instituting what’s called a “decile ranking system” that places students in one of ten percentiles.

Educators in the district cite a desire to take some of the pressure off of kids as the reasoning behind the move. It seems that this is less about “every kid gets a trophy” and more a case of trying to relieve the self- and other-inflicted pressure that’s been growing and leaving kids and parents finding identity and validation in student achievement.

Regardless of whether or not you support such a move, you can’t deny the fact that we’re putting way too much pressure on our kids. . . much of it due to misplaced parental priorities, including the growing trend towards living vicariously through our kids according to destructive goals and standards.

This morning I also read some challenging and timely words in one of my daily devotional books, Nancy Guthrie’s Praying Through The Bible For Your Kids. Guthrie cites Jesus’ words in Mark 8 where he commands his followers to give up their own way, take up their cross, and “follow me.” It’s a call to give up one’s life.

Guthrie writes. . .


“To be a true follower of Jesus is not easy. There is a cost. It requires a relinquishment of the selfish ambition that makes this life all about what we can accomplish and acquire. It requires that rather than charting out a course for a life that we think will provide happiness and fulfillment, we must entrust the course of our lives to Christ. It requires that we fix our gaze firmly on him as we anticipate his benefits and presence in the life to come, even as we accept the losses and disappointments that are part of this life.

As parents, we want to protect our children from pain and difficulty. Too often we want a life for them that does not include a cross. We have ambitions for our children that, if we’re honest, are often less about living the crucified life than they are about creating a comfortable life. We want them to soar, not stumble. We want them to be admired, not marginalized.

We need faith to believe that what Jesus said to his disciples is really true for us and for our children – that the only way to find true life is by putting self-determination and self-centeredness to death.”

That’s a good word.

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