A new year provides a time for reflection. We recount the stories that make up the past, usually with loved ones around us. Most are stories of childhood—the embellished retellings of our best and worst times. You know how it goes. “When I was a child … ”
In our house, the conversation ends with our eyes watching two blonde boys play on the floor. We wonder what their memories will be. What type of world will they live in? Though I don’t know the answers, I want to lead and inspire them to bravely face tomorrow.
In his book, Onward, Russell Moore wrote, “For a long time, the church in America has assumed … that most people at least ideally wanted to live up to our conception of the good life. Those with eyes to see ought to recognize that if those days ever existed, they are no more.
“American culture is shifting, it seems, into a different era, an era in which religion is not necessarily seen as a social good. Christianity in its historic, apostolic form is increasingly seen as socially awkward at best, as subversive at worst.”
Christian parents, who are seeking to equip their children for the real world, will be facing thoughtful, ongoing conversations on gender, personhood, self-expression and marriage in unprecedented ways. Our children and our parenting will require multi-faceted bravery; it will require multi-faceted bravery rooted in the work of Christ and His Word.
Yet, here are a few ways we can live bravely and lead our children to the same:
1. Demonstrate emotional bravery.
We must exhibit for our children emotional bravery that reflects personal vulnerability and dependence on the gospel. It’s brave to repent and believe over and over again. When appropriate, confess your sins to your children and teach them to do the same. The message of Scripture is the message we give to the world—repent, and believe.
The work of Christ is what we offer, not a better political or sociological theory. No other posture for cultural engagement inside or outside your home really works. You will not be the perfect example of Christian ethics that you hold before your children. But modeling for your children how to have difficult conversations with humility and grace will make a lasting and genuine impact on their lives.
2. Gird your loins.
Let’s go to the King James Version for Ephesians 6. “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness” (Eph. 6:14).
Now, let’s see what the English Standard Version says. “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth” (Eph. 6:14).
It’s important to see that in each version, there is a calling to be prepared. Even the apostle Paul urges the church in Corinth to “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).
In other words, get ready. We must be students of His Word, equipped for the daily rhythms of life. My child doesn’t tell me a few weeks in advanced exactly when he’s going to drop a serious question. Does yours? I recently read an account online of a mother who lied to her son to avoid a difficult discussion about gender. I have to admit, that temptation is palpable for me.
Yet from the simplistic questions of a five year-old to more complex discussions with teens, we must be rooted in the eternal truths of the Bible. There is such freedom in knowing that you are not just giving your best ideas to your children; you are giving them the very words of God—living and active (1 Peter 4:11, Hebrews 4:12). These words have purpose—to give life and set the captives free (John 10:10, Isaiah 61).
I pray as I am preparing my boys to bravely take these truths to the world themselves. They are in a battle—not with the people around them but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
We cannot forget this.
In a world continuing to devalue Christian ethics, we must prepare our children to understand they will be outsiders. It not make you or your children popular. But Jesus plainly states that “Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13).
3. Lift up heroes.
My boys are the descendants of homesteaders, soldiers and gospel ministers. Their lives are built upon some incredible legacies, and we talk about those heroes often. Even beyond our family, they stand upon a legacy of saints. Hebrews gives us the famous run-down of those who lived by faith and did not receive what was promised in this life but are now residing in the beautiful “city of the living God” (Hebrews 12:22). When I send my boys out into the world, they might go alone, but they’ll carry those stories with them.
Tell your children stories of those who bravely threw all their hopes in Christ’s hands. Celebrate church history figures, missionaries and the godly men and women in your church. Celebrate those people, and integrate them into your family’s life. Even the most brave will need encouragement, and the best heroes are the ones you know.
4. Live in hope.
Bravery doesn’t exist without hope. One takes risks, goes to uncharted places or walks with eyes wide open into difficulty only when there is something of far greater worth than the arduous circumstances before him or her.
The author of Hebrews writes of hope as an anchor for the soul (Hebrews 6:19). Point your children to the only source of true hope so when they deal with suffering, encounter those who disagree with them or lose worldly success in an ever-changing culture, they won’t come untethered.
Today, sweet friends, let us bravely place our hope in Christ, and our children into His hands, as we face days unknown.
Many of the calls to stand firm in Scripture are accompanied by reminders of the work of Christ on the cross and the works of God.
“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ” (2 Cor. 1:21).
Published January 19, 2017