Our culture bombards our kids with messages to capture their affections, harness their passions, and redirect their focus—through books they read, stories they hear, and entertainment they consume. Therefore, a biblical framework is not just a good idea; it’s essential. If our kids are not rooted in Scripture, they will be instructed by culture.
Every day our kids are told several lies: about their identities in Christ, the hope of heaven, and the goal of human life. Those lies are bad enough, but when the lies culture tells become repeated in our homes and our churches, the damage can be devastating to the flourishing of our children’s faith.
The reason it’s crucial to unmask these lies is because most of them sound good to us. Some of them are partly true. Those are the worst lies—the ones mixed with truth—because they take root and eventually choke out the whole truth.
Follow Your Heart
This lie focuses on the passions, the heart. Our loves define us. We worship what we love. The problem with our unregenerate hearts is that they don’t want God. Left to ourselves without the transformative work of the Spirit, our hearts lead us astray.
In Genesis, God laments the wickedness of man’s heart. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5, NKJV). Martin Luther was constantly aware of his propensity for sin. He understood that sin is not just in the actions you take, but the desires of your heart fuel them. Luther once said, “Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your god.” When we encourage our kids to follow their hearts, we teach them to live based on their sinful appetites rather than to live their lives submitted to God. God spoke to Jeremiah about the sinfulness of Judah:
Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the Lord.
For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.
Our heart, unchecked, puts its trust in man, not God. When we follow our heart, we end up living in opposition to God. We must help our kids counter this lie: don’t follow your heart. Instead, seek God through His Word and Spirit, and He will transform your desires. Follow God, and He will give you a new heart and new desires.
You can be anything you want to be
This is a new lie that is both modern and Western. But unfortunately, this is a lie that even Christian parents often fall into. English poet William Henley most famously articulates this lie that you can be anything you want to be in a much bolder poetic fashion in his most well-known poem, “Invictus.” In the last two lines of his poem, he proclaims, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
The problem with telling our kids they can be anything they want is that it isn’t true. Scripture tells us over and over of the sovereign goodness of God, “who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11, NET). When we understand that God knows everything about us down to the number of hairs on our heads, we realize our gifts and talents are given by God for His glory, not our fame. When we understand that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them,” (Eph. 2:10, NKJV), it changes how we view our present and plan for our future. The good works Paul refers to result from a life that has been saved by grace alone.
When we fail to discover how God has designed us and seek wisdom and confirmation of the right design through leaders in our lives and the application of Scripture to our hearts, we will be living our lives on our terms.
How do we correct this lie in our children?
- We teach them to look to the future in hope
- We teach them to look backward in gratitude for all that Christ has done
- We teach them to walk in the present filled with the humility that comes from recognizing every talent and ability is a gift for our good and God’s glory
- We teach them that every future opportunity is a work of grace by a Father that loves them more than they could ever know
The goal of the Christian life is to find the end of all things in Christ. “The reminder for us is this: if the heart is like a compass, an erotic homing device, then we need to (regularly) calibrate our hearts, tuning them to be directed to the Creator, our magnetic north.” We combat lies, even small, seemingly insignificant lies, with the power of the truth. We must, as parents, confront these lies of autonomy by confessing our dependence; confessing what has always been true: that we are not our own, but God’s.