What Do You Want to BE When You Grow Up?

Is our identity in our work? Does our career define who we are? How many kindergarteners are hearing from their teachers, “What do you want to BE when you grow up? A policeman? A doctor? A veterinarian?” etc. Are our children being indoctrinated from an early age that their success and identity as a human being is wrapped up in a career? And how might this thinking have affected all the little girls? By the time they’re all grown up, how readily will they accept the God-given role of wife, mother, and homemaker?

When my children used to attend a charter school, I couldn’t help but ask myself these questions as I walked down the hall past rows upon rows of cute illustrations of career people drawn by little five-year old hands. “I want to be…” was then followed by an assortment of different career choices: Doctor. Nurse. Vet. Policeman. Fireman. Dancer. Singer. Pop star. Actor. Wait a minute! Which one of these pictures says “I want to be a good daddy when I grow up” or “I want to be a good mommy when I grow up”? What about, “I want to be a hardworking, responsible, honorable father some day” or “I want to be a respectful, virtuous, trustworthy mother some day”? Maybe that’s a little wordy for a five-year old. Yet, isn’t that what we should be teaching them to value most?

When I was a little girl, someone once asked me what I wanted to be someday. My first response was, “I want to be a wife and a mother,” which was followed by a blank stare. The woman who had asked me this didn’t know how to respond, even though she herself was apparently a wife and mother herself! Because of the awkwardness of the situation, I then quickly followed up with what I thought might be a more appropriate reply, “or in the army.” Ha, ha, as if those two things could co-exist! (Some brave and daring women have tried, and may do fairly well at balancing being a wife and mother with serving in the army — BUT IS IT BIBLICAL?)

My very own parents pressured me into trying to figure out what kind of work I wanted to do as an adult — de-emphasizing the role of wife and mother. “Yes,” I can hear my mother’s words echoing back to me from decades past, “but you can’t depend upon a man. You have to go to college, train in a career, find a good job, and then you might possibly consider marriage.” Her advice was well-meant, I am sure. It is always good to exercise caution, and be prepared for the unknown. BUT WAS HER ADVICE BIBLICAL?

I wanted to be a wife and a mother when I grew up, but everybody around me was telling me, “How nice. But that’s not a real career.” Yes, it is! It’s the best, most beautiful and fulfilling career a woman can have! God designed women to be nurturers, helpers and supporters! NOT to provide in the same way that men do! Perhaps it’s a good idea to teach our boys utilizing the “What career do you want to have when you grow up?” approach (omitting the be verb), because they need to understand that they will be responsible for providing for their families one day, not their wife!

Yet, even then, we must distance ourselves from tying our identity to our jobs. What makes us who we are? If it’s our job, then we’re gonna be pretty lost when something happens to that job. We need to highlight the importance of GOOD CHARACTER, and BEING NOBLE AND HONORABLE. No matter what career you have, if you have good character, you will do well!

Having said that, let me explain that we must not exalt even the role of wife and mother above that of being a servant of God! God does not always grant us the precious gift of matrimony as soon as we’ve graduated from high school; sometimes we must wait awhile before we meet the right person. And what to do in the meanwhile? Well, certainly something that will help prepare us for what may be ahead, and be useful during the present time. God does not always grant the precious gift of children as soon as we’re married. Some couples are not able to have children right away (and no, I’m not talking about the artificial barrenness that results from using birth control, but am only referring to actual infertility). And what to do in the meanwhile? Prepare our hearts to love the blessing of children when it does come, and be useful during the present time. Our identity in Christ, as redeemed servants of the Most High, is our ULTIMATE IDENTITY! Never forget that. Our sense of self shouldn’t depend upon the kind of job that we have, but in the kind of character that we demonstrate, and even more than that, in the person that Christ died to save and transform into a clean, pure, virtuous child of God!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to riches of his grace…”

Ephesians 1:3-8

If we are believers and followers of Jesus Christ, our ultimate identity was chosen for us before the foundation of the world: to be redeemed by Jesus’ blood, forgiven of our sins, and adopted into God’s family as His children. And what does He want us to be? Holy and without blame before Him in love. That’s what we should be emphasizing to our children. And as women, part of living out that holiness is accepting our earthly role of wife, mother, and homemaker, instead of looking for an outside career.

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4 thoughts on “What Do You Want to BE When You Grow Up?

  1. Jessica, this message brought streams of healing in my soul. I have heartily accepted your sayings not only intellectually but also mentally and spiritually. How I wish I could hear this message when I was 3 years old or 15 years old! If I did, I could have avoided many sufferings and unnecessary/unproductive ventures in my life! But thanks God, He is a God of healing and it is not too late, right? I thank God that we are on the recovering process in Him.

    How cute and lovely your son is! Your children are the blessed ones because they are cared and instructed by you. Thank you so much for this powerful and healing post. with love,, Kinuko

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    • Yes, Kinuko, God IS a God of healing! And you’re right, that with Him it is never too late! Our transformation in Christ is a lengthy process which will last throughout our lives here on earth. Little by little, God shows us through His Word the truth about Him and about ourselves. Gradually, as we begin to see more clearly, we are able to throw off the old ways of thinking, and develop new patterns of thought. It is difficult, sometimes, but not impossible, with God!

      Thank you for the compliment regarding my son! I do pray very often that God will help us to be good parents to them. Nobody’s perfect, so all we can do is our best, with the grace and mercy of God to sustain us in our weaknesses!
      -Jessica

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  2. Dear Jessuca,when I was a little girl, there were some girls answering ‘We want to be a pretty brides.’ in Japan.That kind of answer was acceptable more than nowadays.
    (I’m 41yrs old now.) As a boy’s mother,I had talked with many kids(including my son.),but no kids answer like you did. What you want to be after growing up means occupation for them.It is not always bad I think,but we have to tell the children what is most important. What you should be to walk with God. Many christian parents struggle to do this I know,thank you for encouragement to keep on!

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    • Thank you, Sanae, for sharing your observations on this topic!

      “We want to be a pretty bride,” is a beautiful answer to the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question. A pretty bride. It seems to me that that response exemplifies a mindset that is centered on the HOME, and on RELATIONSHIP. Though a career is not a bad thing in itself, as you point out, it can become a source of evil when we allow it to consume our lives — when we are so busy with our jobs that we don’t have time for God, for the home, or for building and deepening lasting relationships with our immediate family members. This is especially so for the wife, whose nurturing tendencies make her the perfect one to be at home taking care of the children. I think we see the results of our modern misplaced focus in the brokenness evident in society.

      I greatly appreciate your insightful comments, Sanae! Thank you!
      Jessica

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