My husband and I want to provide more for our kids' future than we had by pushing them to be great academically and athletically but they don't seem to understand. Is this wrong?

So much of our lives are lived in reaction to things that have gone before us. If we were brought up, let’s say, in an austere background, not much money in our life, it’s not uncommon for us to pursue wealth and pursue abundant lives—defined that way with a lot of stuff, materialism. 

The problem is when we want to impose this on their kids. We want them to be the best in school and the best in sports, so that when they get older and they’re adults they can really have all the best that success has to offer. 

May I suggest something to you? If that is your aim you’re probably going to have more and more tension in the home, and kids that are a lot less excited about living there. 

Because you see, that’s a success lie. When we buy into that success lie, or the success illusion, we’re really setting our kids up for an empty life. 

I want to suggest something else. There’s nothing wrong with being successful. The problem is when we have to be successful to feel complete. The reason it gets us into trouble is because of how we tend to quantify success in our culture. 

There are four things that I usually see used as the measuring tools for success: wealth, beauty, power, and fame. 

We want our kids to get a good job, make good money. We want them to marry someone that’s pretty easy to look at when they wake up in the morning—looks good in a Christmas photo, makes nice looking grandkids. 

We don’t want them pushed around. We want them to have control over their destiny. And we want them to get recognition for all their hard earned efforts. 

Once again, there’s nothing wrong with wealth, beauty, power, and fame as offshoots of our life. It’s when we need these, when they define us, when they are the things that we live for—that’s when they come back and bite us. 

I want to give you something better. There are four qualities that I think when we build these into our kids’ lives then we set them up to a live a life that makes a difference, and usually in the process success gets thrown in for free. 

And that is this: you want to build kids that have a humble heart, a grateful heart, a generous heart, and a servant’s heart. 

When those four qualities are the bedrock principles of your home, when this is what your home is known for, when you as parents live these things out—that you are humble people, grateful people, generous people, and you have servant’s hearts—that’s what you aim your kids to have, those kinds of attitudes. 

Then you’re aiming your kids not at success, but what I like to call “true greatness.” When you aim them at true greatness you’re setting them up to make an extraordinary difference in the world. 

Here’s what’s cool: the marketplace is looking for those kinds of people. They would love to have a son or daughter that was raised in that kind of environment, because they can trust them. They can trust them with the company, with the company’s money, with they company’s employees, with the products, with the reputation. 

You set your kids up to be successful without having to aim them at it. You set them up to move into a future filled with something far better than just a great intellect, great resume and pedigree. 

You’ve set them up to be great because you’ve put the great stuff in them that makes a difference: humility, gratefulness, generosity, and a servant’s heart.