To Protect or to Empower? Have you ever stopped to ask, “Why did God entrust me with my child(ren)?” We know in our heads that we are just stewards of our kids, we only get to train them for a short time, etc., etc. But what is the point of our stewardship?
For some of us, it is to protect them. God placed them in our home so they could grow up in a safe, morally pure environment, so that their souls are not trashed before they reach adulthood. We have standards in our homes. We watch out who their friends are. We are careful when they go to other families’ homes: what are their TV watching standards, what kind of video games do they allow, do they guard their access to the Internet, and the list can go on.
We tell ourselves that we can’t protect them from everything, but we also think that “it can’t happen on our watch.” If something leaks through, it will be over our dead bodies.
And, at 18, your morally-pure, well-protected child steps into the “real world.” What then? Will all the protection in the world prepare them for living in this current world?
I have seen the protection-first mentality backfire. At 18, the smothered child intentionally breaks out of the cocoon, intentionally climbs over the barriers, hell bent on seeing all the corruption from which they had been sheltered. On the other hand, some children buy into the caution and they recoil from the outside world. They continue with the safety-first mentality in which they were trained. And their parents are proud.
But should we be proud of this result? Did God create us, save us, and indwell us to live inside of our Christian bubble? What is His commission?
Most of us can quote these verses by heart — “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel.” “Go therefore and make disciples of all people.” “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.”
When the Old Testament speaks of having children, it says, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; He will not be ashamed when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127:4-5
God seems to describe a mission for our children that involves going out, being used in battle, being put at risk. Does the protect-at-all-costs philosophy prepare them for this mission?
I believe that God wants us to take an Empowerment-focused approach. What can we do to foster a “going forth” mentality in our children? What can we do to equip them to deal with people who are not as “nicely spoken”, not as clean, not as presentable people as we are? What is our plan to have them join with us when we intentionally engage those in need financially and spiritually?
Here at Veritas we are always pondering how to create a mission project that would involve the family or a group of classmates in reaching those genuinely in need. What might that look like? Is there a way to be safely strategic? A way to expose our children to people with serious needs in a way that takes all of us outside of our comfort zone to where we must rely on God and not ourselves?
I have friends who regularly go down and serve at Gospel Rescue Mission. The parents are committed to have their child see them in action serving “the least of these” and putting their faith in action. What are you doing to expose and empower your children?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that it is wrong to shelter our children and protect their moral innocence. But it cannot be the point of our parenting. Safety is not the main reason your children have been entrusted to you.
If a captain’s mission is to preserve his ship he would keep it in port forever.
How do we launch God’s ships, our children, so that they sail into the mission for which God designed them? Let’s work on this question together, Christopher