I have been inundated lately with ideas of how annoying the world really is. We try to create an environment for our kids, and the youth group kids for that matter, where they see the supreme value of Jesus Christ. We go to great lengths to monitor what they watch, what they are looking at, saying and we monitor what is being taught in schools. At dinner we talk about the day and what types of things took place. When watching television we point out lies to help the kids understand what is reality and what isn’t.
But, even with all of that there is still that moment when a thought or idea gets in. The world is not an easy place and having it all around just makes it that much more of a challenge. How can we find a balance between sheltering them from everything and equipping them to filter what is going on through a worldview of truth? When is being safe actually being dangerous?
Safety is a large topic and there are many opinions on it for sure. I know we put a lot of effort into safety. Things are getting so crazy, though, that when the word ‘dodgeball’ was recently brought up at the elementary school by a parent, the gym teacher replied in a stern voice, “that is not allowed!” The reason is safety. It is the same reason the school doesn’t let kids run on the playground. They are afraid they might slip and fall. Parents have fueled this with an obsession on being careful, wearing knee pads and not playing too rough. When we go on trips the main emphasis is on being safe. Safe travels, safe flight, safe….safe…safe.
It was humorous to watch my boys outside on the deck clearing off the ice the other day. There was not that much ice on the deck, but there they were with shovels banging at it to get it off to keep us safe. They then took the ice they chipped off and put it in front of the door. They did realize that I was about to walk out that door and took measures to keep me from falling. So, they found rocks and dirt and put it over the top of the ice they just placed there. Safety is the key around here.As much as it hurts me to say it, though, I don’t think safety is good enough. I don’t think safety is going to help my kids, or your kids, or you for that matter, really engage in the ideas of the world and speak into that. Imagine if quarterbacks didn’t throw the ball for fear of it being intercepted. Or imagine if people didn’t go to college because they might fail or not get a job. Fear is not a good motivator for our actions, if it is that kind of fear. Scripture tells us to fear God, but that sort of fear is not going to keep us from risk. That sort of fear places our life in the hands of a God who is stronger than anything we will ever face.
I like safety, but I don’t think it can be over done. I say that while in my heart I want to wrap my kids in pillows and keep them from pain. I do not want their hearts to break or their dreams to be shattered. I do not want people to hurt them or for them to get hurt by something they have done. I don’t want them to be disappointed when someone lies to them or leaves them out. Safety says to just leave them at home. But, what happens when they go someplace without me? What happens when they enter the world and for the first time see and hear things they never heard before? What happens when that friend says or does something that is destructive? It is at that point that, unless they have been equipped, they will have a hard time processing it. They are then left to their own thoughts and popular culture, or school teachers, to help them figure it all out. That is not good enough!
We need to protect our kids because I do not believe they need to experience every sin to know it is wrong. But, instead of losing our tempers with them when they come home and say something that is wrong, why don’t we talk about it? Why don’t we tell them why it is wrong and what would be an appropriate alternative to that? What does the Bible say about that? Kids don’t need to just be safe, they need to know safety in their struggles and ultimately their safety in the hands of their God. Let’s walk with them, parents and youth leaders, helping them see the right path and avoid the wrong one.