We can help our kids grow to stand strong and trust God in the face of the world’s intolerance of their worldview.
The world we’re raising our kids in sure is different from the one we grew up in. When my brother, Jason, and I were kids, my dad marched us out of the theater halfway through a movie. It was so embarrassing. But he’d had enough of the movie’s problematic content. He even said something to the theater manager, who apologized and refunded our money. Can you imagine standing with God and being treated well today?
Fast forward to the world we live in, where our families now avoid the local library during “Drag Queen Story Hour,” an event where cross-dressing men read stories to children. When we mentioned our concerns to the library manager, he ignored us. Word soon got out, and our family was publicly mocked by the local newspaper as bigoted and intolerant of the library’s “display of diversity.”
If you had told my brother and me all those years ago that we would be branded as bigots for saying drag queens shouldn’t be kids’ entertainment, we would have thought you were nuts. But times have changed.
“The cost of biblical convictions in contemporary culture is growing steeper every day,” writes David Platt in Counter Culture. “We are not far removed from sharing more soberly in the sufferings of Christ.”
As the roots of those costs continue to become more apparent, how can we help our kids grow to stand strong in the face of the world’s intolerance?
Be lovers of God’s Word
Why is it that doing devotions as a family is often so difficult? The kids are too tired, have too much homework, or would rather do something else. Why is it such a battle to stand with God even at home?
As parents, we need to better recognize how powerfully God’s Word works in the hearts and minds of our kids. To give our kids’ faith a fighting chance, we must prioritize family study of the truths God has given us.
In our home, we have devotion time in the evenings, reading passages and talking about how they address or are similar to challenges we face at school or in our relationships. We also include worship music, closing our eyes and reflecting on what we’ve heard in Scripture.
We aim to eliminate distractions and let God’s truth permeate our hearts and our home. Most of all, we want a home life where whatever our kids have witnessed in culture, chances are good we’ll cover it by recognizing God’s perspective. We hope that these moments we spend together talking about His Word will embolden our kids and strengthen them in the difficult times.
Embrace the struggle
I remember sitting with our 10-year-old son at the kitchen table, listening to him moan as he faced his math worksheet. Literally moaning and crying. The agony worried me a bit, although I supposed that he was just trying to get out of his homework. But I began to have doubts. Is this too difficult for him? I wondered. Did our rough morning take a toll on him? Could he be hungry or tired?
Well, I was hungry and tired of hearing all his complaining over math, but we got through it. Then we packed up and headed outside to play. I really just wanted him to be happy, because it made me happy that he was happy!
Yes, I recognize that our kids’ happiness isn’t the goal—raising resilient and courageous children is. And training them to walk through suffering is the key. We’ve learned this the hard way, as our kids often seemed ill-equipped to face hard times. But we thank God for His grace—because the Lord has done amazing things in our kids’ lives.
Guide them through hard times
Today we have a vision for our kids to embrace the struggle and not avoid it. When our children go through hard times, and we guide them in love, they experience healing and growth that draw them nearer to God and mature them in their faith. My wife, Lori, commented on this: “If our kids are going to stand strong in this dark world, they must embrace the struggle. We cannot shrug away from suffering. Suffering is a tool that the Lord can use to strengthen us. It produces endurance, character and hope.”
Hard times bring us to our knees and often bring us closer to God. Of course, we don’t like to see our kids struggle. We don’t like to struggle. Yet, it’s in the struggle that we flesh out our faith and learn how to stand with God. Our kids desperately need these encounters, not more things that make them happy.
The challenges are unavoidable. Will your kids be ready? Or will they be able to stand with God when no one else is standing? Will they know how to face adversity well?
We must prepare our kids. When they are small, their problems are small, but as we guide them through these trials, we equip them with the skills and traits they need to face bigger struggles. It’s a beautiful cycle. Walking successfully through challenges gives kids the character they need to overcome future battles—and that character produces hope and confidence.
Keep an eternal perspective
I recently asked my sister-in-law, Tori, how she and Jason were training their kids to stand strong with God amid challenges throughout the school year. She responded that it was so helpful in their family to keep their focus on God’s kingdom, to keep an eternal perspective amid the trials of this earthly journey.
“Life is short, but eternity is forever,” she said. “So in your heart and mind, have eternity always in view. I’ve seen how valuable this perspective is, not only for me personally but also as a mother. Our kids have so much stuff tugging at them—the Instagram likes, popularity at school, athletic achievements, pressure to conform. But this world, and all these things that seem so important in their hearts, it’s all going to pass away.”
With three teenagers and a nine-year-old, my brother and I are in the thick of parenting. And we’re determined to help our kids live with an eternal perspective. Life is short, but eternity is forever. We must help our kids keep the perspective that best helps them stand strong against a culture that is hostile to their faith.
So create a family culture of dependence on God’s Word, discipleship and prayer. Commit to service, to helping and serving others. Guide your kids toward humility and excellence in their talents and abilities, with the understanding that these character traits have eternal benefits.
Nothing this world offers compares to the glory of eternity.
© 2020 David Benham. This article first appeared in the August/September issue of Focus on the Family magazine. All rights reserved. Used by permission.