In general, it is good for parents to be ambitious for their children. However, there is a vicarious form of ambition where parents try to live their childhood dreams through their children. I’m thinking of the father giving a football to his 1 year old son so he can get the feel of the ‘old pigskin’ on the way to gridiron greatness. Or the mother who dreamed of becoming a movie star caring for her daughter at an early age to get into beauty pics. As parents, we should work hard to help our children fulfill their own dreams. That said, however, most parents’ ambition is helpful and healthy.
In Matthew’s twentieth chapter and verses twenty to twenty-eight; Salome, the wife of Zebedee and the mother of James and John, comes to Jesus with an ambitious request. “Grant that one of my sons may sit at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.” I smile as I read that the other ten disciples were “endowed”. Momma Zebedee had shocked them by asking her sons what they wanted for themselves, but was too shy to ask.
Salome was not happy with her boys’ success in family fishing and making good money in the fish market. First of all, she wanted them to stand out as Jesus’ disciples. Her ambitions had a spiritual dimension that was often missing.
In that regard, I will rise and praise my own mother. Of course, she wanted me to get a good education, establish a stable home and become a respected member of the community. She also wanted me to provide for my children what she was unable to give me. But more than anything else, she wanted me to become a really good person with honesty and integrity who had a quality relationship with God. It was the quality of my character that mattered most to her. I am grateful that there was a clear spiritual aspect to her ambitions for me. What I am today is largely a reflection of that.
When she returned to Momma Z, she believed in her children unconditionally. She believed that nothing was too good for them, not even being second and third in command, in the kingdom of God. No wonder they believed in themselves. When Jesus asked them, “Can you drink from the cup I should drink?” They replied, “We can” (Matthew 20:22).
They did not know how bitter that cup would be or how often they would fail to take up their cross and follow Jesus. Still, they had a mother who never stopped believing; More importantly, they had a savior who believed in them. It’s a winning combination.
Parents, don’t forget to maintain a spiritual dimension in your hopes and dreams for your children.