Loving Others While Speaking Truth: Tips for Christian Parents

October 11, 2022

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Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we answer your questions with the goal of equipping you to get the kids God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they have encountered so they can understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm so glad that you've joined me today for another episode of this podcast. Today's question says, how do we train our kids to respond to their peers who have different views that are often strong and push on our kids to agree with them? Our kids want to fit in and don't want to make someone feel bad, so how do we train them to love others while also speaking the truth? And I'm sure that this is a question that has been on so many of our minds over the past few years because we know that we live in a culture where the self has become king, and the highest good is self-expression, and the highest sin is not celebrating someone else's self-expression.

And now we know that as Christians, we can wholeheartedly agree with the inherent dignity, worth, and value of every human because every single human is an image bearer of God. However, we also know that humans are fallen, and so therefore, our inner subjective emotional world often does not align with reality. It does not align with God's good design. And so therefore, if we are to genuinely love others, we cannot celebrate every single person's self-expression. In fact, we can't even celebrate all of our own desires and the whims of our heart because we know many of them contradict God's good design. And many of the things that we desire, many of the things that we actually falsely believe about ourselves are direct affronts to our creator. So therefore, if we're loving our creator and loving others, we can't celebrate every single desire that is expressed by our self and our fellow humans.

So therefore, our culture is going to label us as hateful, intolerant, bigoted, so many other words. So how do we prepare our children for this? Those of you who have listened to this podcast long enough know that my first question in response to questions is usually, what is the goal? Because if we want to know how to do something with our children, we need to know what is the goal. And so I'm assuming that for most of you who are watching this, whether you have your own children, whether you have grandchildren, whether you're working with children in a church context or a school context, in an extended family context, that your primary goal for these children that God has placed in your care is discipleship, that you would help them understand their need for Jesus and then would equip them to follow him. So therefore, what we need to ask ourselves is we need to think, okay, if discipleship is the goal, the situations in which we have currently placed our children, are these situations meeting the goal?

Because I think sometimes we accidentally just kind of throw our kids into the deep end without any preparation. We think that because, like our little ones, because they sing, "Jesus Loves Me" because they profess a love for Jesus, that they somehow have this deep, robust rooted faith where a lot of times that's just not accurate, and we end up throwing them into the deep end. So we want to think through, okay, what situations are we placing our kids in? We don't want to hide them away from the world. We don't want to completely shelter them. Those two things aren't helpful, but are we placing them in situations where they're getting healthy, age appropriate, developmentally appropriate, personality appropriate exposure to the world? So first, we need to know who our children are. Are our children genuine followers of Jesus? Maybe. Maybe we've seen a genuine profession of faith and then fruit coming out of that profession.

Maybe not yet. Maybe our children love Jesus and want to know him, but maybe they're not at an age yet where they can actually comprehend what it means to repent of their sin, trust in Christ, and then daily die to themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Jesus. We need to also know their personality. Okay. Who are they? What are the things that they're drawn to? What are their aversions? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? We need to consider all of these when we think through the situations in which we're placing them, because we want to make sure that when we are placing our children in a situation, whether it's a school context, whether it's a church context, whether it's a neighborhood context, whether it's a friendship context, whatever context in which we're placing our children, that they're prepared for it, that it's a situation that's actually going to meet the goal of discipleship.

And now sometimes, putting our children in a secular environment for certain things can actually meet that goal because we're preparing them to carefully evaluate the ideas they encounter and to understand why Christianity actually lines up with reality. But if we haven't prepared them with the skills they need to do that, they might not be ready yet for that secular environment. Now, my friend Christopher Yuon gives an analogy that I love and I think is so important to think through as we're considering the situations in which we're placing our children. Christopher likes to say, "Are you being a thermometer or a thermostat in this situation?" Because thermometers, what do they do? Thermometers mirror the temperature of the room. So you put a thermometer in a cold environment, that thermometer shows a cold temperature. You put that thermometer in a hot environment, that thermometer shows a hot temperature.

So are our children being thermometers where they're in a phase, and with their personality and their design, they're just going to mirror whatever is taking place in that situation. What we really want is we want for ourselves and our children to be thermostats. What thermostats do is thermostats enter a space and change the temperature. Okay? Thermostats might be in a cold environment and you plug in 75 into that thermostat and press the heat button and that thermostat cranks up the heat until that room is 75 degrees. You take that thermostat and you put it in a 90 degree environment and you plug in 75 degrees and press the little snowflake button or cool button, and it will drop the temperature until it reaches that 75 degrees. That's what we want for our children. We want them to be thermostats where they're actually changing the environment that's around them.

Now, in certain situations, that might not be probable that that's going to happen. If we have a more shy child, or if we're placing our child in a situation where they might be the only Christian in that classroom in their school, we need to make sure that they're prepared to be that thermostat, rather than the thermometer. And so we just need to know, and we need to think through, okay, how could we train our children so that they're not just going to be reflecting what's going on around them, but they're going to actually change that environment? And that's really a call for us as well. How many of us struggle with people pleasing? How many of us are really bold to speak the truth when we're just around those who agree with us? And then we get out into an environment where other people don't agree with us, and we never, ever share the truth with them, or we never ask that person a question, or we never challenge lovingly that person's view.

We need to make sure that we ourselves are being thermostats and not thermometers. Also, we need to think about how have we structured just our family environment so that the children God has placed in our care are getting used to feeling different. Our kids just need to get used to feeling different now, not in a weird way where we're dressing super strange or we're eating food that nobody else has ever heard of, not that there's anything wrong with eating food nobody else has ever heard of. But we're not trying to purposely be weird, okay? We're not trying to stick out like a sore thumb, but we need to prepare them to be different in the way that Peter describes in First Peter as elect exiles and sojourners, as aliens and strangers, that this world is not our home, and we need to make sure that we are structuring what's going on in our home so that our children are getting used to that.

That in our home, we don't spend our time the way that most other families spend their time in our home. We don't spend our time engaging in entertainment or amusement that most other people do. We're always filtering everything that comes on a screen in front of our eyes through the lens of Philippians 4:8. Is it true? Is it noble? Is it right? Is it pure? Is it lovely? Is it excellent? Is it praiseworthy? Then yes, that's the type of thing that we should be meditating on. If it's not, that thing has no place in our home. Okay? The way that we're structuring meal times, the way that we're opening up our home to other people, the way that we're investing time reading scripture and praying, it should look very different than the world around us. And then we need to be intentional in explaining these things to our kids. Why does our life look so different?

And you know what? It's sad to say, but when you're intentional about doing these things, your family life is going to look different even than most of the lives of the families in your church. It is. I remember feeling that way when growing up, that the way our family life was structured, aside from maybe one or two other families at our church, it was very different, what we were and were not allowed to watch, the ways we were required or not allowed to spend our time, the time that our family invested in reading scripture and praying together. This looked vastly different than even the homes I went over of other people in our church. And that's okay. It's okay to be different. We have to have our kids get used to being different because that's what we're called to be. We're called not to conform our minds to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our minds.

We also want to help our kids understand the purpose behind every activity that we do. Why do we have meals together? Why are we careful about what we do and don't watch? Okay, why do we make sure that we're inviting other people into our homes? Why are we intentional at serving others? Because we want our kids to see the purpose behind each of these activities so that they understand that it stems directly from the biblical worldview. My mom did a great job of this when we were growing up. She just explained so many different things to us and made sure that we saw the purpose in it. Now, growing up, my siblings and I went to public school. Now, if we were growing up today, I'm not sure that my parents would've made that same choice. But back then in the nineties, that's the choice that my parents made.

And every day before school, we lived in a very secular culture. We lived just north of New York City. And if you know anything about that area of the country, there's like you have the choice of one Bible believing church within a 30 mile radius. Like, there's nothing. And so the school that we went to, we didn't know any other Christians aside from ourselves. Like yes, there was people that might claim that they went to a certain church, but nobody that actually believed the gospel. And so every morning before school, my mom would pray with us before we left the house and went out the door, and she would pray that we would go make a difference. And so she was intentional every morning at reminding us, okay, you're not just going to school to get an education. You're going to school to get an education because you know Jesus, and your teacher and your classmates do not know Jesus, and you are to go in there and you are to shine the light of Christ every day.

So we want to make sure that our kids understand, okay, why we're doing these things in our family. That if we want them to be prepared to speak truth and to not buy into the lies of our culture, we need to train our children to think well. We need to train them to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter. If you're not sure how to do this, highly recommend you just go to the Foundation Worldview webinar page. We have a number of webinars on this. We actually have an entire careful thinking curriculum for kids ages 10 to 14, where we just systematically help kids break down what is this claim that was made. Okay, is it true? How can I tell whether or not it's true? We need to equip our children to think well so that when they hear ideas that contradict scripture, they actually understand those ideas and understand why they're not true.

So training our kids to think well is key in this. So again, go check out the other Foundation worldview webinars. We have specifically designed just hour long webinars on how do we train our kids to think well, and also check out our careful thinking curriculum. Also, we want to equip our kids to focus their attention on others rather than on themselves. Because when they're faced with a claim from someone that they can't celebrate in this very hostile culture, we want them to think, okay, how do I love this person well. How do I love this person well. And to discern these situations, sometimes it might require just... We might not know someone very well, and it might just require just letting them talk and asking them questions. Okay? Just train them to ask good questions. Other times it might involve asking the question, hm, that's interesting.

Can you tell me more? And then, can I share with you why I don't agree with that? And then also talking with our kids, the difference about a one-on-one situation versus a group situation. Because if our children are put on the hot seat in a group situation, what we want them to think of is if somebody's being very antagonistic towards them, that yes, they want to love that person well. But in speaking the truth, whenever you're debating someone, whether it's public or private, the goal of that debate is never to win the person you're debating. It's to win the audience so that those watching understand, oh, actually that person has some good points. That's what I do when I'm on social media all the time. I don't like to get into lots of arguments, but I just like to make comments so that other people who are watching will get to think about the truth.

That whenever I know that I'm directly opposing what someone has put, I try to approach it very respectfully, very logically, very loving, but also with the goal I'm not trying to convince this person that I'm commenting on. I'm trying to convince everybody else who's reading the thread. So that our children understand the difference between a one-on-one conversation with someone versus a group setting where someone's being very antagonistic towards them. As I almost always recommend, in these situations, pray, pray, pray, pray, pray. Pray that the Holy Spirit would give you wisdom as you're guiding your children and helping them understand the truth and goodness and beauty of the gospel, and that they would understand what it means to live faithfully for Jesus in a hostile culture. Okay? So pray over them. Be consistent about scripture reading so that they understand the truth of the biblical worldview. Well, that's all for our episode today. But as always, as you leave our time together, my prayer for you is that God would richly bless you as you continue to intentionally disciple the children that He's placed in your care. I'll see you next time.

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