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Chapter 9: Are We Aiming For Good Or Godly?

“The family is the cornerstone of our society. More than any other force, it shapes the attitude, the hopes, the ambitions, and the values of the child.”

— Lyndon Baines Johnson

Parenting is truly one of the most humorous and humbling endeavors on the planet. When we look at parenting, we need to ask the question:

“Are we aiming for good or are we aiming for godly?”

For this question to be valuable, we need to carefully define our terms.


  • Meeting societal expectations,
  • Behavior that is in bounds
  • Reflecting the character and highest values of our culture


  • Like God
  • Reflecting God’s character and highest values

At the end of your life, one of the first things you will think about as you sit in the rocking chair is the type of relationship your kids have with the Lord.

It is hard for Christian parents to contemplate sitting in that rocking chair, filled with gratitude, peace, and joy if their children have shunned the faith that they have tried to pass on to them.

For parents, I believe the direction and destination of our children’s lives are close to the center of the target for all of us.

And yet, we recognize we do not have as much control in this area as we would like.

There Is No Formula For Parenting

In parenting, we sometimes feel that we would like to have complete control. We would like our children’s decisions to be completely up to us. We would like to have a straightforward, unchanging formula for raising them successfully. Simply add A to B and you will get C — a perfect child each and every time.

But there is no formula to raising a perfect child. I think God did this on purpose. If there were a formula, we would focus on it instead of focusing on Him.

So He does not give us a formula. But He does give us precepts, promises, and provision. He offers precepts from His Word to live out and teach. He promises us that our lives as parents will make a deep imprint on our children. And He offers the provision of His strength, courage, and wisdom through the presence of His Spirit.

His promise to be with us always is incredibly heartening as we seek to make Christ-followers out of our own children.

What We See

So how are things working out? The headlines are not encouraging.

Multiple studies conducted during the last twenty years have found that two out of three teenagers who grew up going to church stop being involved in church life as they transition to adulthood. Once they graduate from high school, it seems they also graduate from their faith in Christ.

In light of this reality, we should ask ourselves why this phenomenon is so prevalent.

While we shouldn’t oversimplify this complex issue or make one aspect of teen life the scapegoat, I believe part of the answer may lie in the difference between good and godly.

Good vs. Godly Exercise

Most Christian parents believe the primary role of teaching their kids about God and his ways belongs to the pastor, youth leader, and Sunday school teacher.

“Outsourcing” is OK if you are aiming for good, but disastrous if you are aiming for godly. King David’s life is a powerful reminder.

God’s design for His people is unmistakable — that we be like Him. Yet, the contrast between good and godly may not be as clear when we think about raising children.

Since the direction of our children means so much to us, now and at the end of our lives, in the book we put together a “Good vs. Godly” Exercise.