Setting Our Children Up For Failure

My kids are weird.

It’s true – I can’t deny it. I love them.  They are precious to me. But, they don’t fit in with most other kids their ages.

They’re schooled at home.  They don’t follow fashions.  They don’t know popular music, movies, or video games.  And, if it’s not a television show on PBS, they probably don’t know what it is.

They get stared at when we’re out with other families.  A lot.

But, this seems to be the case for most moms these days who are trying to raise their children apart from the world while they are living in this world. (And I should clarify; just because your child is in school, knows about popular music, television programs, video games, or is a fashionista, those things certainly don’t exclude your child from the kingdom.) We’re training our children to move towards Christ. We’re trying to move our children out of the world.   Which means, seemingly unfortunately, we’re setting our kids up for failure – at least where the world is concerned.

Let’s face it.  Being different in the “wrong” way, is a near death-sentence to our kids these days.

Look at what the world is selling our kids:  the fashion fads where less and tighter clothing is more acceptable.  Sleeping around is commonplace; even expected.  “You wouldn’t buy a car without test-driving it first,” is not the shocking attitude that it once was!  The ease of technology these days puts the danger of inappropriate, and sometimes violent, images into the hands of our youngest children.  As tech gets more prevalent, the amount of quality time that parents actually spend with their children is dwindling, making that the social norm. I have to admit, my kids see me bent over my phone a lot more than they should.

Look at what the “American Dream” is telling our kids. While the "Dream" is shifting away from the old corporate climb to get the best house/car/spouse/lifestyle on the block, and toward something that simply guarantees that we will finally have the all the leisure that we think we deserve, the fact is that the greater Culture that we live in never stops discipling us to value ourselves and our circle of friends above all, and to cast away with a flourish anything that would cause us annoyance. This discipling starts working on our children very early, and continues well into adulthood.

All of this is completely and utterly against the Mission of Christ.

Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave.” (Matthew 20:26-27)

And then Peter wrote this: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own peculiar people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9, emphasis mine)

And then this kicker from Jesus: “If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19, again emphasis mine.)

The world HATES you.  Hates you.  Hates. You.

And this, THIS, is what we’re training our children up for. And there’s the struggle of our children to walk their paths on this earth without conforming.  Thankfully, we have the truth given by this proverb (22:6): “Train up your children in the right way, and when they are old, they will not stray from it.” But, if we train them in this way, the world, and those people of it, will hate them.  Sadly, that scripture is not merely a proverb, but a promise--albeit not the sort that's to our obvious benefit.

In some countries, Christian persecution is rampant. Brothers and Sisters are being killed every day around the world for the cause of Christ.  And, like the serpent he is, Satan is slowly and stealthily making his way further into our area of the world as well.

So, what should we do about this? We can’t change the world, but we can give our children courage to stand against it, and a hope to fight for, and a covering to protect them from it.

I think our children NEED to know what they’re up against.  Tell them over and over again that this world is only a temporary one.  That we’re working towards a heavenly home.

Some parents recite Ephesians 6:10-18 with their children every morning.  It tends to get everyone prepared for the day’s work, or battle. Because, this life is truly a battle against darkness:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

We should also remind our children that Jesus promised that he would always be with us regardless of how hard the circumstances get. “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” Matthew 28:20.

And although Jesus promised that the world would hate us, He also loved the world. And so must we. And we are to teach our children that they too are to love the ones that Jesus promised would hate them. How else can we hope for them to be "called out of darkness into his marvellous light," just as we were? This is not an easy thing. It takes intention and strength that only the Spirit can give, and only we can model for them. And, although there are so many more scriptures about being strong in the Lord, I’ll leave you with this final one from Paul, that says so much about how our children’s walk - and our own as well -  should be:

Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14