I have a favorite Bible verse for this time of year: Luke 2:52. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. At Christmas we talk a lot about when Jesus was born. Pretty soon it will be Easter and we’ll be talking about when Jesus died and rose again. In between we may read about his miracles or his teachings or stories about his disciples. But aside from the story about him teaching in the temple as a young teenager (Great story to read when you’re having a bad mommy day! If Mary and Joseph could lose the Son of God for a couple days, some of my problems start to seem a little smaller!) we don’t read much about his childhood. But, I love this verse that summarizes his growing up. I love it because it points out four different areas where we can grow too.
Look carefully and think about ways that you – and your kids – can grow like Jesus in 2009. The four areas in the verse are intellectual (wisdom), physical (stature), spiritual (favor with God) and social (favor with men). Think of one goal for each of these four areas for yourself, and for your kids.
Maybe you’d like to take a class, start learning a foreign language or just read a book that doesn’t have pictures in it! Order a subscription to a news magazine or sign up for a news blog to help you stay up to date on current events. For young children, an age-appropriate goal might be to learn colors, shapes or the alphabet. For school age children, an intellectual goal could have to do with improving grades in a particular subject, learning how to type, or reading novel. Older teens may consider taking a class on-line or at a community college to help them prepare for career training. Other goals could have to do with SAT or ACT scores or college applications.
When choosing a physical goal for yourself, choose one that is actually attainable. (Literally growing in stature doesn’t work; believe me – I’ve tried.) A physical goal could be in regard to eating healthier, adding more activity into your lifestyle, or learning a new sport, and similar goals could be made for things you want to work on with your kids. Sign your kids up to play a team sport and volunteer to help coach. Encourage your teen to try out for a school team, and start exercising with them on the weekends.
Spiritual goals could have to do with reading the Bible more often or praying FIRST, instead of as a last resort. For little children it may mean taking them to Sunday School, starting them in AWANA, or teaching them to pray out loud by repeating after you. Select memory verses (or passages!) for school age children and teens. And, memorize these verses with them! (Psalm 23 and 139 are good ones to start with.)
A good social goals for any age might be making new friends. For young children social goals may involve making new friends, practicing sharing or learning manners. For us adults, it may mean being more intentional about practicing hospitality or not gossiping. Although it isn’t a “goal” this verse might be a good springboard for a talk with teens about healthy relationships in the context of friendship and dating.
Will you take the Luke 2:52 Challenge with me? Pick one goal for each area. Write it down. Tell someone and ask them to check in with you periodically throughout the year. Whether we like it or not, we will get older this year and so will our children. So, let’s be intentional in our growth for 2009.