Hope, fear, anticipation, disappointment. A roller coaster year.
It’s easy to enter 2021 with mixed emotions. We are exhausted from the pandemic of 2020 which continues on, from a nasty election, political and racial riots, job losses, sicknesses, and just plain bad news. We stumble into this new year with trepidation for our kids and grandkids and the world in which they are growing up.
What will the future hold for them?
They are growing up in a culture with few absolutes, confused friends, angry people, an overdose of technology, contradicting news “facts,” and hardly any roadmap by which to navigate life.
Will they be equipped to go out on their own? Have they developed the convictions, the character, and the courage to stand firm in whatever comes their way in life?
As I’ve thought about these challenges facing parents I’ve identified 3 crucial things I want to pray for God to develop in the lives of my kids and grandkids and those to come:
Conviction, Character, and Courage.
Our kids are being taught that having convictions means that you are intolerant. And unloving.
They hear: Loving someone means that anything goes. Any belief. Any value system. And these values can change frequently. You must support mine or you don’t love me. There is no real truth.
Oh but there is. And it’s not a new truth. It’s one that has been around for a very long time, survived wars, famines, plagues, and cultural norms of various kinds. It’s the one truth and it will change your life, give you security, and a firm foundation.
Without a firm conviction of God’s truth our children will be tossed around by the current waves of culture. They are desperate for truth even if they don’t realize this right now.
I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).
And in Psalms we read:
Thy word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
This truth does not vacillate.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:5)
This truth is all-powerful and eternal.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)
Our kids desperately need to have a deep conviction of the truth of Jesus Christ and a rock-solid faith in the truths of scripture.
What might help develop these convictions?
- Talk about truth.
Use the dinner table for conversations. Ask good questions. What do you think truth is? What do your friends believe is truth? Where can someone find truth?
If you are a grandparent, write letters to your grandkids. Talk with them about what really matters. Often they will hear from you what they might not hear from their parents. Don’t expect them to say, “You are so wise.” That’s unrealistic. They are listening even if it doesn’t seem like it.
- Give them a confidence in the word of God.
Create an environment that allows for deep questions. If you don’t know the answers say so and initiate a family research “challenge” to find answers. (A good resource: thegospelcoalition.org.)
- Expose them to clear, confident teaching, podcasts, articles, etc.
- Let them see you spending time in God’s word.
Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress and for their children it will be a refuge.” (Proverbs 14:26). Note: It does not say we are a refuge for our kids; rather our fear (respect) of the Lord=our faith is their refuge.
- Pray regularly and fervently for them.
I ask you to give my children: (names)_______a deep conviction that you are real and true. Give them a growing desire to be in your Word and a love for it. Send people into their lives who will confirm your truths. Protect them from false teachers. I ask that they and their children would uphold your truths forever.
The values attributed to a moral character are fading in today’s world. Integrity is becoming lost in a culture of blurred lines between right and wrong.
It seems okay to lie as long as you can get away with it. Or if you get caught you can blame someone else, rely on parents to cover up for you, or enlist a group of lawyers to get you out of trouble. Fudging on taxes, accepting money under the table, cheating in school, embellishing a resume—these kinds of things just seem acceptable. But they are not.
God’s word is clear about integrity.
The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy” (Proverbs 12:22)
One of the benefits of having children is that it makes us accountable. We have to guard our own hearts and consistently seek to be honest in every endeavor. It will be hard. We will fail.
Our goal for ourselves and for our children is for integrity to become an instinct. It is not so much determining to do something else in our lives or the lives of our kids as it is choosing to be something different.
Won’t our failures lead to hypocrisy? How can we expect our children to live up to a standard that we fail in ourselves.? Hypocrisy is not caused by high standards, but by parents who wink at the standards for themselves while insisting on adherence by their children. Genuine integrity, on the other hand, maintains a high standard while acknowledging failure and seeking to grow.
The trait of integrity is just one of many traits we are called to develop. Others include humility, self-discipline, compassion, a servant’s heart, courage, faith, joy, etc.
What might help develop these traits?
- Talk about character traits.
Ask your kids, “What do you think integrity is? Why is it important? Who do you know who strives to be honest in every way? How can we as a family grow in this trait?”
- Seek ways to care for others with your kids.
Take food to an elderly or ill neighbor. Clear snow for free. Run errands for someone who can’t get out. Encourage your kids to look out for the lonely peer and engage with them.
- Pray that if your kids are doing anything wrong that they will get caught!
When they do, do not bail them out. Instead walk through their punishment alongside them. Let them suffer the consequences of their actions but give them hope for the future.
- Pray regularly and fervently for them:
Please grant to __________ a developing Godly character. Clothe _____ with integrity, compassion, self-discipline, faith, joy and courage. Put folks into their lives who will “raise the bar” rather than lead them astray. Help them to have the wisdom to flee unhealthy relationships and temptation. Give them eyes to see what is pure and good and the desire to run after these things knowing that your Holy Spirit will never leave them and will Himself empower them for your glory.
If you want to help your kids develop strong character, this book is for you! It takes eight character traits including integrity, a servant’s heart, a teachable spirit, and courage and explains how to instill them in children. A complete leader’s guide makes this book perfect for small groups, including single parents. Click here to order.
Angry mobs protest in the streets, attacking those who might disagree with their cause. Looting and killing seem to go unchecked. Fringe elements on all sides of the political spectrum run wild. Their words and actions intimidate others. They dare us to protest, to stand for truth. Too often their ways are met by our silence.
Statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke said,
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Similarly, theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer proclaimed,
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.”
In some ways I fear the disintegration of courage to be one of the most dangerous things facing the next generations. We don’t recognize this erosion. It’s subtle. Fewer and fewer people are willing to speak and write about truth and reason. Our kids are afraid to stand for truth. They may be ridiculed, or at least become unpopular. Their fear of backlash is too great. The cost seems too high.
But it isn’t!
Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
“When I called you answered me, you made me bold and stouthearted.” (Psalm 138:3)
When we step out in courage we will see the power of the Lord!
What might help to grow courage?
- Talk about courage.
Ask, “What does courage mean to you? What does it look like? Where have you seen someone take a courageous stand? Can you imagine a situation in which you would need courage? Describe this.”
- Read the stories of brave Biblical characters — Nehemiah, Esther, Moses, Joshua, Paul, John the Baptist, etc.
Describe how they were courageous. How were they able to do what they did?
- Read books that tell stories of courageous men and women.
Develop the tradition of reading aloud as a family. Reflect together about what you are reading.
- Carefully choose movies that tell stories of courage.
Watch them together and discuss them.
- Consider the little demonstrations of courage.
Often we think of courage in the big things. But it is in the small areas that we begin to develop courage.
It takes courage to stop a conversation in which a group of girls is cutting down another girl. Courage to say, “I disagree with your view. Have you considered…?” Courage to say “no” to cheating, lying out of convenience, or following the crowd in doing something that our gut tells us is not right.
If we want to raise kids who will have courage to stand and proclaim truth in large arenas it will need to be nurtured in the little ways.
- Pray regularly and fervently.
I pray for _________ that you would grow him (or her) into a courageous person. As you give them the conviction and the character to proclaim your truths, give them the courage which they will need. Keep them from shrinking back from fear. Equip them to go the distance even if it means rejection, loss, and even death. Wherever you call them, give them a burning passion to boldly proclaim you with both truth and grace, leaving the results up to you.
Thank you that Paul has reminded us:
Faithful is He who calls you, He will bring it to pass.” (1Thesssalonians 5:24)
As parents and grandparents it is so easy to feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of raising kids. Often we feel like failures. It is tremendously helpful to recognize that it’s not all up to us!
At this very moment Jesus himself is sitting at the right hand of God praying for our child, interceding for you and me.
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25, see also Romans 8:24)
Thank you, Father, that right at this moment Jesus is praying for me, my children, and my grandchildren. It is not all up to me!