First off, let me begin by saying that I think that God wants us to be happy. In fact, I preached a whole sermon series on this topic last year and you can find that here. God is happy and He created us to glorify Him and enjoy Him (Find Him Happifying) forever. That means chasing happiness is a large part of what it means to be human. But our immediate personal happiness isn't everything. In fact, there's a lot more to life that just seeking happiness. Don't we also want to be people of virtue? Now, I realize that the word virtue is not used very much today. But I think it needs to be.
Virtue (n.) 1. Moral excellence; right living; goodness. 2. A particular type of moral excellence. 3. A good quality or feature. 4. Purity, chastity. 5. Effectiveness.
Plato and the Greek Philosophers formulated the four virtues of Justice, Wisdom, Courage, and Self-Control/Temperance into what they called the "cardinal" virtues from the Latin word for "hinge." Meaning all other virtues hinge on these four. These virtues are extolled throughout the New Testament as righteous and embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was more than happy, He was righteous and good. Catholic Philosopher Peter Kreeft says, "Virtue is simply health of soul."
This leads me to ask, can a person be happy in a unjust, foolish, apathetic, and materialstic culture? If you didn't catch that, those were the antithesis to the four cardinal virtues also known as vices. Honestly, I think the answer to this question is yes, for a little while. But eventually the failure to develop virtue will destroy our own happiness and the happiness of others. As Proverbs 18:6 says, "A fool's lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating." Foolishness is fun, until it isn't.
Therefore, We want to be more than happy, we want to be virtuous. Now I want to apply this observation to one specific area of our lives, Parenting. Our kids will be ruling the world some day. They will be leading our government, businesses, academic and religious institutions, and of course their own families. Will they have the virtue necessary for such tasks? My contention is this, if we base our parenting around the unilateral goal of their happiness they will not be prepared, virtue will go undeveloped, and in fact our children will eventually be desperately unhappy. As a Father of four, this thought is leading me to reevaluate some of our family practices. I want to raise more than happy kids. My wife and I want to raise virtuous kids. The question is, Are we creating an environment in our home that values the development of virtue over personal immediate happiness?
And yes, this will have implications upon the iPad.