5 Things I’ll Teach My Son
I can't protect him from the ugliness in our culture. But I can prepare him to remain faithful in the midst of it.
In just a few days my first son will be one month old. When I finally glimpsed back into the realm of current events after his birth, all the depravity I’m used to seeing was still there. But it hit me different this time. This is the world my son will grow up in. I have to think about his future now as well as my own.
Even though I want to protect him from the ugliness that surrounds us, I can’t. But I can prepare him spiritually to remain faithful in a culture marred by corruption.
So as my infant boy grows into a young man in the years to come, here are five life lessons, rooted in God’s Word, I wish to impart.
1. Know the Why Behind the What
A study last year showed that only 4 percent of my generation holds a biblical worldview. Pew Research Center finds that my fellow Millennials are increasingly religiously unaffiliated. If in the past people generally agreed on basic principles of morality, that’s no longer the case.
So it’s not enough to merely teach my son what’s right and wrong, because society will challenge the truth I teach him at every turn. I have to teach him the why behind the truth.
I want him to be able to clearly articulate the truth when someone asks. To successfully defend it when it’s challenged. And to effectively share the truth with those who need it.
If he knows the truth and understands why it’s true, he’ll be able to stand strong in a world of moral confusion.
2. Be a Bridge Builder
Our nation is divided, over politics, over cultures, over experiences. It’s easiest to avoid and even disdain those who think differently than we do.
That’s not how I want to raise my son. When we keep our distance from those who are different, we miss out on opportunities to emulate Jesus. He didn’t stoke the divisions of his day. He brought people previously divided over cultures, class and beliefs together in his name.
That’s what I want for my son. To be kind to those who disdain what he stands for. To listen to people he disagrees with. To befriend those who are different. In so doing, he’ll build bridges where there were once rifts, bringing people together instead of further driving them apart.
3. Keep a Clear Conscience
1 Thessalonians 5:22 warns Christians to avoid the appearance of evil. While has always been wise advice, modern technology’s permanent memory magnifies its prudence.
So I’ll teach my son to live as if at some point, someone will dig up every detail about his past. They’ll attempt to smear his name, reputation, and Christian witness. If he keeps a “clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander,” he needn’t worry. (1 Peter 3:16)
4. Trust Not in Princes
Today politicians, celebrities, and leaders of movements are more than just role models. They’re idols, made that way by a nation turning away from God and desperately seeking new heroes to worship.
Even Christians can fall into the trap of idolizing human heroes. This happens when we place people on pedestals they don’t deserve, telling ourselves they’ll solve all our problems, rather than relying on God. In the end, we will always be disappointed with human heroes.
So I’ll teach my son to “put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.” I’ll teach him to cast all his hope and trust in God alone. That way he’ll never have false expectations about what another person can accomplish for him. His faith won’t be shaken when a leader, even of the faith, inevitably fails. And he won’t lose hope when his personal heroes let him down.
As Isaiah 49:23 says, “Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”
5. Be Strong and Courageous
Real strength and authentic courage are rare these days. Bullying is often mistaken for strength, and virtue signaling masquerades as real courage. It’s tempting to adopt these false versions of strength and courage, and revel in the public accolades that come with them. But that’s not what I want for my son.
I want him to understand that real strength is knowing when to be gentle, lead quietly and live meekly. To understand that real acts of courage aren’t usually praised, if they’re seen at all.
When his beliefs are challenged; when others are unkind; when people attempt to destroy him; when those he admires fall, he’ll need that kind of strength and courage — the kind rooted in the Lord.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
These are the lessons I want to teach my son. I know I won’t be able to shield him from the world’s depravity. He’ll likely face times of hardship and doubt. But if he takes these lessons to heart, I have confidence that he can withstand those times, remain faithful, and be a light in the darkness.