It’s not easy being the "fool" among those who are "wise" by today’s standards.

The wisdom of this world would suggest that my 19-year-old son should be heading off to university, not boarding what was considered the oldest (built in 1914!) ocean-going passenger vessel still afloat. What kind of parents allows and encourages their son to embark on such foolishness – and for two whole years?

The kind who recognizes that God’s ways are not our ways, that His definition of success is not the world’s.

Seeking God's guidance

It was only through God’s Word and its guidance that my wife and I partnered with our son in God’s calling for him to join Operation Mobilization, travelling from port to port "bringing knowledge, help and hope" to the nations. After all, being the eldest of four, this would surely set the precedent for the next three. I can hear it now: "But dad! Michael did it and he was only 19!"

Worldly "wisdom" would suggest that proper parenting is to have our children secure a safe, dependable means of earning a living before anything else. Having that in place, and only if they still want to, then they can go serve God as they like.

Definition of success

We live in a world where "success" and safety nets are the norm, inside and outside the church. But I have learned from Aslan, the Great Lion, in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia that God is always good, but He is not always safe! I have learned from Jeremiah and Isaiah that the definition of success is obedience to God’s calling, not wealth, position or power. And I have learned from my own life’s experience that God’s order of things, not ours, is always the best.

The place of success and safety is to be with Him, where and when He calls us. What else could a parent hope for, but for their children to be where God intends them to be, at the time He calls them to be, in spite of the "foolishness" of it all?

Stephen Johnson was the regional director for Focus on the Family Canada in southwestern Ontario at the time of publication. He is married to Beverly, and they parent four “almost-grown” children.

© 2008 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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