How to Teach Your Kids About Goals and the Values Within Them

(Less than 3 minute read.)

I remember my mom took me to see the 1992 Olympic Gymnastics Team as they toured the United States after winning the Bronze. This included Keri Strug, Dominique Dawes, Bela Karolyi, and more. I took gymnastics classes recreationally and had zero chance of ever being on even a local competitive gymnastics team. However, when I left that arena with a flyer of Bela Karolyi’s training camp in Texas, you better believe I dreamed of how I could be one of those gymnasts. I knew it was impossible, but every time I glanced at that yellow piece of paper that I had thrown on the desk in my room, I couldn’t help but have a split-second vision of what that would be like to go to his camp. Reality would quickly set in when I realized the impossibility because I had no training. I had never worked to be a “real” gymnast. I knew that nothing, especially spots on Olympic teams, is handed to you without WORK. 


Fast forward to now. I’m a wife, a mom of four, a new business owner. The other day I heard someone make a comment on the radio that made me stop. “Don’t pray for it if you aren’t willing to work for it.” I thought about that for a long time. It made me think about all the things we pray for…minor, major, super important, for others, for ourselves, out of gratitude, in desperation, the list goes on and on. 

We pray for a lot. We hope for a lot. We dream for a lot. But are we willing to WORK for it to do our part to make it happen? Are we going to continue the responsibility left to us AFTER a prayer is answered? Do we think about the consequences - good or bad - that may be the result of our prayer or dreams coming “true”? It is certainly a big point to think about as you begin to evaluate those things for which you may be praying.

We live in a world where we can be easily deceived with the assumption that success or achievement comes with instant gratification. It is easy to look around and think it’s all handed out without much work. In a world where you can “Google” anything and have the answer within seconds or be able to sit on your couch and go on a shopping spree with the choice of same day delivery or watch a “star” be born from posting some YouTube videos, why WOULDN’T we just expect everything to come immediately and with ease? Especially our prayers, hopes, and dreams… 

But then we must come back to reality - “Don’t pray for it if you aren’t willing to work for it.” 

I brought up this quote the other night at our family dinner. I asked my girls, ages 11, 9, and 7, what they thought this meant. They quickly realized it means you have to meet God halfway. He may offer a blessing, but only AFTER we show we are ready by working hard, and even then it requires us to continue to uphold our end of the deal. For example, if you hope to be that Olympic gymnast, you must recognize the sacrifices it will take to get there, train really hard, and then once you are blessed with the spot on the team, you must know the values required to maintain that blessing and not waste it.

What about the relationship you long to see changed? It, too, requires work to get there and work to maintain it. Or the job at which you want to succeed? Work and responsibility. We can’t have one without the other. 

God surely offers us blessings, but we can’t forget what it requires of us. It requires the steadfastness, the perseverance, the sacrifice. Values that are not often highlighted in our society, but ones that we must not neglect teaching and modeling - especially to our children. 

Imagine Dragons sings a song, “Whatever it Takes” and one line is “take me to the top I’m ready for whatever it takes.” Getting to the “top” comes with consequences and sacrifices -positive and negative. And when you have a dream that’s big enough, sometimes “whatever it takes” is worth it. But…you have to be READY. And you have to be ready to WORK.

As we enter a new year and start setting our eyes on new goals, the thought of “working” to achieve those goals is going to be inevitable. We need to have this discussion with ourself, with our significant other, and especially with our children. Unfortunately, we are living in a world where “work” is often seen as a negative when it seems so many things are “freely” handed out. It is imperative that we remember this basic human principle, we live out this value, and we pass it on. Whether you’re praying, dreaming, or hoping, it’s not happening without WORK.  

Jennifer Zumbiel