Each week a new story in the news takes social media by storm and dominates the online conversation. This week the story of the appalling crime, disappointing trial, and lenient conviction of Brock Turner has filled my feed. As the story grew is scope and more information was made known to the general public, I saw my social media feed go from rebuke of the perpetrator and his father who defended him to sympathy for the victim and her family to a call to teach our children to be like the heroes who stopped the attack and called for help for the victim.
The whole story is sickening and frightening. But I think it is also revealing of our culture and what our children are walking into as they grow up.
For decades, as a culture, we have glorified individualism.
We have said if you want it, you can have it.
If you feel it, you can be it.
If you think it’s okay, then it is okay for you.
What is most important is that you are happy; that you get all you can out of this life and live it in the most satisfying way possible for you.
The almighty “You” is worshipped. In the land of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, nothing should keep You from getting what You want.
This stands in stark contrast to the life that Christ calls us to live.
Instead of You being glorified, You is humbled.
Instead of You getting what it wants, You relinquishes its right to what it wants and seeks the good of others.
Instead of You defining what is good and right and best for itself, it looks instead to its Creator and seeks first that kingdom rather than its own.
It looks nothing like the culture into which our children are headed.
Which is why, as so many people are saying now, we must teach our children something different. The posts call for us to teach them to be heroes.
But you know what those heroes did? They saw beyond themselves to others. They cared enough about another person to put aside their own individual agenda and seek the good of another. They desired justice more than fairness and truth more than lies.
If we want to teach our children to be heroes, we must teach them to be counter-cultural. We must teach them to be different. That the “You” is not more important than “Us” and that we are all part of a community not individuals living in a bubble of our own pleasure and desires.
Church, we have a huge role to play in this.
We have the calling to live this way all. the. time! If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” (Ph. 2:1-4)
This is what we should look like. We should look different.
We should be teaching our children to be heroes by being selfless, compassionate, hospitable, and humble in our interactions with one another. We should be looking out for others, not just when the circumstances are so horrid we can’t help but act, but in everyday situations when those we live surrounded need a helping hand, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a meal shared, a prayer offered.
That is why I am so passionate about discipleship at home and intergenerational community at church. Because if we, the body of Christ, are not modeling this counter-cultural behavior for our children through our interactions with them, with each other, and with the community at large, then we are not teaching them to be heroes. And if our culture ever needed heroes that stand out, that look different, that hold up a standard of humility and grace in a world of pride and judgement, that time is now.
Teach our children to be heroes by teaching our children that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness might be our rights, but laying down those rights for the good of others can lead to the greatest freedom of all. Like the knights of the round table in the legend of Camelot, let them discover that “In serving one another, we become free.”
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Discipleship in Intergenerational community
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- Seminars, Workshops, Coaching
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.