We were driving to the store listening to the music of his request, indie rock, as usual. Cage the Elephant played their modern rock ballad about cloudy days and fixing your eyes on the sun, and in the rear-view mirror I saw his face distort to the shape of a true rock star in his element as he bounced his head back and forth. I have always known his love of music was different, and I remembered him in my womb, kicking rhythmically to anything we played loud enough for him to hear.
He interrupted my memories by asking me to turn it down and asked, “Can you be a guitar player when you grow up?” When I answered yes I watched his eyes light up and gaze out the window.
“You can be whatever you want when you grow up, and you should do what makes you feel the most alive, but find a way to change the world with it, because that is your responsibility.”
We pulled into the parking lot as he unbuckled and climbed to the front seat to look at me.
“It’s my responsibility?”
“Yes, bud. The world is your responsibility, and it needs help. It needs someone to change it, and make it kinder and more like Jesus.”
He stared out the window behind me as it sunk it, or at least I was hoping it was.
“Actually Mom, I would like to be a train track builder. Can I change the world with that?”
“You can change the world with anything you do. It’s about the person you are and the attitude you have. You can find a way to change the world with anything.”
“What about a motorcycle rider?”
“Yup. A motorcycle rider can change the world too.”
He thought some more as he watched people walk by and I got his brothers out of their car seats, then I took his hand and we walked in to buy diapers and new shoes. I knew I was holding the hand of a world-shaper. I was pushing a couple of them in the cart, too.
As I ran my errand I thought about a Jonathan Edwards quote I had read once.
“Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.”
Eternity. What we do on this earth should last for eternity, otherwise, it’s pointless. I take that seriously; it’s why purpose is my favorite word. I want my kids to know that they have a purpose and what they do will last for eternity. They have a legacy to leave behind and I expect them to rise to that occasion.
Some might say they’re just children, let them be little, or that I’m being too hard on them. I disagree. I am letting them be little, I’m pretty big on that, but letting them in on their purpose doesn’t make them grow up, it sets the stage for a small person to grow into a big person who knows exactly why they’re here. And that’s what I want for them- to know exactly why they’re here, that they matter, and that they play a crucial role in changing the world, in the Kingdom of God.
I want to put the weight of the world on their shoulders, because that’s where it is whether they know it or not. The future generation is the shape the world will take when we are no longer here. I'd be doing them as well as society a huge disservice to shield them from their responsibility.
I don’t want my children to be selfish adults. I don’t want them thinking that life is about them or even that it’s about their happiness. I believe that’s a big misunderstanding in this world.
The responsibility of changing the world gives kids an automatic purpose, and young adults need purpose. When they have been infused with it from a young age, they are less likely to doubt it or be unsure of themselves. They will have been taught that life isn’t about them, it’s about using your passion and your talents to make the world kinder, better, brighter.
Life is about being Jesus to people. Jesus sat with the lepers when no one else wanted to go near them and caged them off. Jesus dined with the hated, the despised. Jesus held the faces of prostitutes and dined with the poor.
So instead of saying things like, “You can do anything you put your mind to! The sky’s the limit!” I want to pour purpose and intentionality into my children.
Your passion is music. How can you use that to change the world? What words can you pair with your music to shape the minds of those listening? How can you love on people with your music?
Your passion is riding motorcycles. Instead of only riding and seeking out sponsorships, fame, and money, how can you use those things to change the world? Maybe you can start a program for troubled boys- a camp where they can come and be boys and ride motorcycles and learn about the God who loves them wildly, just as they are.
How can you use what you’re made to do to be like Jesus to the world? It is your responsibility to change the world. It’s on you, love. And you’ve got this.
Find what sets you on fire inside, and go change the world with it.