Not too long ago, I was eating lunch at one of my favorite restaurants minding my own business when I heard the most powerful words I've ever heard from a 5-year-old. I wasn't trying to eavesdrop, but it was hard not to listen when a little guy with a bowl cut leaned in toward his grandfather and said with a voice of utmost intensity, "Grandfather, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
His grandfather, completely taken aback, responded, "Sonny, I don't know what you mean."
"What do you want to be when you grow up, like when you get big, as big as a ship?" Although the reference to a ship might detract from the credibility of this 5-year-old, everything he lacked in credibility was made up for by the passion in his voice.
This reminded me that I never want to stop growing, learning, or dreaming. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" doesn't have to be about a career. For me, I want it to be more about my character, passions, and commitments. What kind of person do I want to become?
Instill in your kids a love for dreaming. Help them learn that they can work hard to achieve their dreams, but always talk about the kind of person they want to become in connection with what they dream of becoming. If they want to be a pilot, ask them what kind of pilot they want to be. If they want to be a ballerina, ask them how they want other ballerinas to think about them. Guide kids to desire to become more and more like Jesus as they grow, and it won't matter what career path they choose.
And you... I know you are busy, I know you are tired, and I know you probably feel like dreaming is impossible in this stage of life if you are just trying to keep your head above the water, but never ever stop dreaming. Don't stop growing. Don't stop becoming. Becoming like Jesus is too valuable of a calling to take a break. So, mother, what do you want to be when you grow up? Wife, what do you want to be when you grow up? Friend, what do you want to be when you grow up? It's never too late to dream.