Jesus once said that “whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” He doesn’t mean that we should literally carry a big wooden cross around all day, but that we have to deal with the “crosses” (burdens) of life rather than avoid, pass off or ignore them.
Life is full of burdens; perhaps the biggest of all is that of being a parent. Life is different when you know you are directly responsible for the life (or lives) of another. In terms of dealing with my own children, I’ve been forced to think about what it means for my kids to be "successful" in life. I mean, the whole reason we send them to school, teach them to be responsible, mold and shape their character, etc. is so they can leave home, establish their own lives and live those lives in a way that doesn’t hinder or depend upon others.
If that’s the definition of success, then it seems to me that a “successful” life might have less to do with the amount of money one might be able to earn and is perhaps more about the depth of a person’s character and their love for God. My ongoing burden, the cross I bear as a father to seven children, is how I can encourage and build up in my kids a love for God and His Word and a respect for God’s creation and people.
It’s no easy cross to bear, I will admit. It’s a burden that has been all the more difficult with my having grown-up in a dysfunctional, broken home. Yet it’s a burden that has been made bearable through Christ and the blessings he’s given me. And there are many blessings for me to count! My wife. My “seven from heaven.” My church family. My friends. And most of all, my Savior—Jesus.
While Jesus calls us to carry our cross and follow Him, we know that He first carried our burden of sin on His cross. Yes, He did carry a literal, wooden cross, and suffered and died a painful death for our sakes—for our salvation. And now, as our crucified and risen Lord He doesn’t ask us to do anything that He will not strengthen us to do. He wants us to carry our cross according to His power and strength. He wants us to trust in Him as we deal with the burdens of life.
I’ve found that the closer I get to Jesus, the easier the burdens are to bear and the more “successful” my life is. My prayer is that my children will experience and know the same thing as they carry their burdens and live the lives God has for them. I pray that you, too, would have the same “success.”