Influencers: What is your child learning from them?
We often hear the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” and there is some truth to that. However, the key is knowing who makes up the village.
If it is people who share your values and want to join, not replace, you in helping your child grow and learn, that’s great. But if they walk, talk, and preach something that is in opposition to your values and beliefs….keep your children far from them!
The challenge of raising kids in today’s world is often complicated by the notoriety of so many people in the world of sports, Hollywood, TikTok, and elsewhere. Popularity should never be a criterion for a role model.
In fact, I remember in 1993 NBA Hall of Fame basketball player Charles Barkley said, “I am not a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” What a true statement!
Proverbs 13:20 reminds us that “whoever walks with the wise, becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 puts it even more plainly, “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.” Who our children hang out with and who we encourage them to look to as a role model is critically important as ideas, values, and beliefs are often easily “caught” from others even if that is not our desire.
As parents, we certainly want our children to grow and be prepared spiritually and academically, but there is a whole set of other skills and ideas that are instrumental in helping students, who later become adults, to succeed in life. These Life Readiness Skills are directly related to Biblical values but are more the “soft skills” that people need to thrive.
Life Readiness Skills:
- Social Integrity
- Wise Leadership
- Being a Champion for Others
Perhaps one of the finest examples of someone possessing and using these “skills” is found in the Old Testament person of Daniel.
Taken from his people and forcibly moved to Babylonia, Daniel found himself in a foreign land having to face new rules, new expectations, and new pressures. While he still had his friends (Radshak, Meshack, and Abednego), he was far from his family and from the environment that encouraged and supported who he was and what he believed. And yet he not only survived, he thrived!
As you read through the Book of Daniel, (and I would encourage you to do so), note how often these skills come into play. His purpose in Life was found in the Hope he had in understanding his true identity in the Lord and not in the culture or potential prosperity. He understood how important it was to maintain his own Social Integrity and communicate and behave in ways that reflected Biblical Truth, despite some deeply trying circumstances.
He persevered again and again with Grit to overcome the challenges of learning a new language and adapting to new cultural expectations without sacrificing what he knew to be true of what God had commanded of him. At one point in the story, we find Daniel in view of others doing what God commanded despite the world saying it was wrong; even when his own life was on the line. That Character, of doing what is right and taking responsibility for your actions, is seen again and again in his life.
He faced every situation with Gratitude and recognized God’s blessings and faithfulness, even when he was thrown into the lion’s den.
His Passion to please the Lord resulted in his doing all that he undertook with excellence. And while that passion often resulted in worldly success, it was never his goal but a byproduct of pleasing the Lord. His success in the culture and within the court of the King gave him ample opportunity to practice Wise Leadership, recognizing that his position called for great stewardship and for influencing those around him in Biblical Truth.
Finally, when you see his actions with his friends and within the community and royal court that had kidnapped him from his home, you observe a heart often demonstrating being a Champion for Others.
In a world where kids are bombarded with worldly values 24/7, they need a place and a person to whom they can assuredly cling to in knowing what’s really true and seeing how they can model their own life after someone who understood what it meant to thrive in a hostile culture. The Bible is that book and while Christ is the ultimate role model, what we observe in Daniel is worth examining and following.
Our children will always face ideas and values that oppose what we find in Scripture, but anchoring our lives on those truths and outwardly expressing them in the form of these Life Readiness Skills, will not only help them stand against a worldly onslaught but also provide a living testimony for the hope (in Christ) that they have within them.
By Jim Sullivan, Woodcrest Christian School Superintendent