Is pursuing our passions during parenthood selfish?

Written by Bethany Adkins
Published on September 18, 2020

Becoming a parent is one of the most life altering things that we experience. It is a beautiful, fun-filled journey, but it also comes with much sacrifice.

In the early days, we give up sleep to care for an infant who can’t care for himself. In order to fill our homes with baby toys and accessories, we give up space in our homes where nice furniture used to sit. We give up our favorite television shows in exchange for PJ Masks or Mickey Mouse.

Date nights, motorcycles, long spa days, whatever it may be—we give it up. And we do it happily for the sake of loving our children well and putting them first.

But what about our callings? What about our God-given purposes? In order to prioritize our family, should we give them up too?

Passions put on hold

Time and time again, I have heard parents talk about the passions they put on hold once they became parents. For a while, I not only thought that was honorable, but I personally bought into the narrative.

What’s more noble than giving up your dreams and ambitions for the sake of helping your children live out theirs, right?

Listen, when it comes to my children, I want them to know that the sky is the limit. 

I want them to know that they have purpose and should ferociously chase after their dreams with all of their might. I also want them to know that I will do whatever it takes for them to go after their purpose. 

At the same time though, is giving up our own calling to focus on theirs truly helpful? Or is it an excuse?

We were born with a unique and distinct purpose

All throughout the Word of God, we are reminded that we not only have a purpose, but that our purpose is intentional and planned by God. 

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

We are also told that we each have unique gifts given to us by God. These gifts play into the body of Christ. The body cannot function properly without us playing our part and utilizing our gifts (1 Corinthians 12).

These truths don’t go away when we become parents. In fact, parenthood adds another layer to our God-given purposes. Not only has he gifted us with unique and distinct giftings, but he has provided us with the privilege of modeling what that means to our children every day. 

If that’s the case, then why do so many of us feel selfish for pursuing our God-given purposes once we become parents?

Do as I do

Do as I say, and not as I do,” is not the type of parenting style that we should be using for our children. When we put our callings on hold to allow our children to live out theirs, we are doing just that.

Our daily actions are the absolute best learning opportunities for our children. When it comes to parenting, the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what we say or how many times we say it. Our actions reflect who we are and make a much bigger impact on our children than our words ever can.

If you tell your children that you love them one hundred times a day, yet you never give them affection, show interest in what they are doing, or exemplify that love through your actions, they will not feel loved.

The same goes for our purpose. How can we raise God-fearing children who are on a mission to pursue their God-given purposes, if we set ours on the sidelines for their sake? Won’t they then do the same when they become parents? Our purpose doesn’t end at parenthood, it is magnified.

Our children watch our every move and try to emulate what we do. What are we teaching them when we tell them to live out their own purposes while they watch us ignore our own for their sake?

Show them what it takes

“You can be anything you want to be. When you find what that is, you will know.”

Sound familiar? This was something I believed when I was growing up. But I faced two issues with this narrative. 

First, I struggled to find the “thing” I was both good at and passionate about. Second, I thought when I found my “purpose” it would come naturally and easily. When it didn’t, I quit.

Yes, stepping into our purpose can bring peace. It ignites something in us that nothing else in this world can. When we are walking the path that God has set out for us (stay-at-home parenting, CEO, or mailman), there is peace that comes with our walk. 

But the truth is that “peace” and “ease” are not the same thing. Purpose is hard. There are road blocks. There are trials. I’d argue that it’s the hardest thing we’ll ever do.

Why is that? It’s because we have a real enemy who also has a purpose. His purpose is to do everything in his power to veer us off course and keep us from stepping into what God is calling us to do. 

The Bible warns us of this in Peter, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Living out our calling before our children’s eyes is not selfish. In fact, it’s one of the most selfless things we can do for our kids. They need to know that, just like us, they have a purpose. They also need to know the tenacity that it takes to live out our purposes.

Our children need to be aware that they will be knocked down when stepping into their callings. Satan quite literally wants to destroy us. We are at war, and the enemy will do what he can to knock us down.When that happens, our children must possess the tools to get back up. 

We can equip them with the tools they need by taking them along on our own purpose journeys and letting them see us persevere through the trials.

We can choose to give our kids a life of ease and protect them from all we can while they are under our roof. But the truth is, we cannot protect them forever. They should know that living a life of purpose is beautiful and worthwhile, but it’s also really hard. 

Complacency or selflessness?

A willingness to give up everything for the sake of our children is beautiful and selfless. But don’t you think our heavenly Father wants what’s best for us too? 

He has given us specific gifts and designed us with unique passions. So when we have the best intentions for our kids, and selflessly give up our purpose to devote more to them, are we actually being selfless? Or are we being complacent? 

How pleased is God when we put our purposes on hold for the sake of putting our kids first? 

When we truly study the Word of God, there is no question as to whether we are all given these purposes for one mission: to know God and make him known. That’s not something that should stop when we have children.

Living out your God-given purpose, and utilizing your God-given gifts, is not selfish (even in the midst of parenthood). 

Let them see what it takes. Love them. Involve them. Use this journey as a teaching opportunity. Don’t just encourage them through your words. Let them become inspired and influenced through your actions.

At the end of my life, I don’t want my kids to say: “My parents gave up everything, including their own purposes, so that I could live the life I was called to live.” 

Instead, I want them to say: “My parents showed me what it takes to live a life of purpose by living out their own God-given mission, right before my eyes. They shared the pain, the sacrifice, and the beauty. And because of that, I am equipped to live the life I am called to live.” 

Isn’t that what our Father did for us?

Dear friend, don’t give up on your purpose. Bring your kids alongside you and show them what it takes to honor God’s kingdom.

Live perfectly imperfect

Get daily emails with practical and spiritual advice geared towards helping you set aside perfect and grow into the parent you want to be every day.

Bethany Adkins

Bethany Adkins is a former Pediatric nurse who left the comfort of her job to pursue something she never thought possible, and is now encouraging others to pursue what’s on their hearts as well because it’s there for a reason.
Through posts on her website, conversations on her podcast, and writing her first book, the core of her message is one simple thing: you have a purpose. When she initially decided to write a book, she never thought it would lead to anything. But over time, it has shown her just how tangible dreams can be. All she had to do was step away from the expectations that culture sets (you know, work a good job that equals good pay), prove that she is more than they make her generation out to be (a lazy Millennial, of course) and rise up to pursue the purpose deep inside her.

Read more about Bethany

You may also like…

Privacy Preference Center