To say there’s a lot of scary stuff happening in the world today would be a massive understatement. Especially if you’re a parent. Be honest, how many times in the last week alone have you had the thought, “I can’t believe this is the world my child is being raised in.” We fear for their physical, mental, and emotional health in the wake of a worldwide pandemic. Even more so, we fear for their safety in public as daily headlines remind us of existing evil in our world. Truly, there is so much fear- and such a weight of responsibility to protect those little lives we love so much.
But there’s another fear that keeps me on edge when it comes to my kids. Perhaps even more so than the ones mentioned above.
Colossians 2:8 says, “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.” When I look at the world now, this is what I worry about for my kids. I know this is not necessarily a new thing; the enemy of this world has been hard at work, tricking and deceiving ever since the Garden of Eden. And here’s the thing about deceit: it’s incredibly subtle.
I don’t worry about my kids not knowing right from wrong. I’m absolutely confident they can recognize sin in the light of day. My concern is for how they will respond when they meet a lie dressed up to look a lot like truth. Because that is all around us. A twist of Scripture here, something that sounds right over there. It can be easy to slowly drift from truth to something that merely resembles it. I am by far less concerned with an act of disobedience in the face of knowing truth than I am with them being deceived away from it.
And just as I have a responsibility to protect my kids from viruses and strangers who intend hard, I have an even greater responsibility to share the gospel with them. To help them learn sound doctrine, and to cultivate a home environment that models the love of Christ.
My kids are now 11 and 9 and I know the influence of the world is coming hard after them- as it will for your children. Along with fervent prayer, here are a few ways we can intentionally lean in to the above mentioned responsibility and privilege of parenting.
Maintain Connection: This takes many forms, but specifically I’m thinking about the element of time. Kids feel connected to their parents through the investment of time spent together. Extended time on the weekends or vacations are great, but even more important are the daily connections. Look for ways to hang out with your child- just be where they are! Common interests always help, but even if it’s not your thing, if your kid is into it, get into it with them! Take an interest in their interests. When our kids know we care about what matters to them, they are more likely to view us as trustworthy…and as someone whose influence they are likely to accept. This is key. Connection increases influence!
Bold Conversations: Of course we want our kids to maintain their innocence for as long as possible, but we also cannot be naive. Often kids pick up on far more than we would like to think- whether from peers, the media, or overheard conversations in public. We absolutely cannot shy away from talking about issues addressed in Scripture. This includes (but is not limited to): sexuality and marriage, creation, how we speak, and how we treat others. Trust me, it is never too early to begin these conversations. Bold conversation might also look like talking over song lyrics or television and movie themes. Additionally, bold conversation seeks out theological discussions. These discussions should teach our kids to view life through the lens of Scripture and the character of God. Which leads to my next point….
Encourage Questions: Absolutely ask your kids about what they’re learning in their youth groups or church services. This is a great springboard for discussion and can be a way for you to learn with them. Within bold conversations, ask them what they think about the topics in light of what they know to be true of God and Scripture. This cultivates critical thinking so that they will not blindly (and lazily) accept the teachings of the world. And as questions go both ways, be sure to let them know they can ask you about any topic they wish. And when their questions get hard- and they will get hard- you can seek theologically sound answers together.
Raising kids to know Christ in a world that is diametrically opposed to Christianity requires great intentionality and courage. But we must make this our mission above all else. May it ever be our goal to lead our children to the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. That way, when they hear a lie that resembles the truth they will not be deceived. They will not be taken captive by philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition. Rather, they will have the mind of Christ.