Home Pastors Should We Want Our Children To Be Happy?

Should We Want Our Children To Be Happy?

C. S. Lewis began his great sermon “The Weight of Glory” by saying this:

If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point.

Lewis went on to make this critical point: “The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire.”

It’s possible for someone to act sacrificially and selflessly in the best interests of others while enjoying the fruit: feeling good about having done well and receiving God’s approval and reward.

Parents Are Called To Model Finding Happiness in Christ.

Some parents believe that looking after their children’s happiness means constantly saying no to their own. But if they don’t take care of themselves, failing to model finding happiness in God, they’ll deprive their children of happiness too. (We’ve all known the overbearing, codependent mother who does everything for her children while reminding them of all her sacrifices. Her unnecessary sacrifices are self-serving in the sinful sense, but in fact, they don’t serve her well. They end up making both her and her children miserable while she exclaims, “All I ever wanted was for you to be happy!”)

Flight crews routinely announce, “If you’re traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, in the case of an emergency, secure your own oxygen mask first before helping the other person.” Those instructions may sound selfish, just as it sounds selfish to say that one of our main duties in life is to find happiness in God. But only when we’re delighting in our Lord do we have far more to offer everyone else—our children included.

Proverbs 20:7 says, “The righteous live a life of integrity; happy are their children after them” (CJB). May we model and pass onto our children a rich heritage of Christ-centered happiness.

This article originally appeared here and is used by permission. 

Previous articleWhat Rembrandt Teaches Us About the Gospel
Next articleGospel Focus Motivates, Makes Southern Baptist Crisis Relief Unique
Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries (www.epm.org), a nonprofit ministry dedicated to teaching principles of God’s Word and assisting the church in ministering to the unreached, unfed, unborn, uneducated, unreconciled, and unsupported people around the world. Before starting EPM in 1990, Randy served as a pastor for fourteen years. He is a New York Times best-selling author of over fifty books, including Heaven (over one million sold), The Treasure Principle (over two million sold), If God Is Good, Happiness, and the award-winning novel Safely Home. His books sold exceed ten million copies and have been translated into over seventy languages.