As parents, we have many hopes and dreams for our children. We hope that they grow up to be contributing members of society. We hope they lead successful lives in careers that they enjoy. We hope that they find love, get married, maybe have children of their own one day. We hope that they are good people who make wise choices and stick up for what’s right. However our greatest hopes and efforts will be put to waste if we are simply grooming their behaviors and neglecting to acknowledge the greater heart issue.
Although the culture would like us to believe that our hearts are good and that we should “follow our hearts” to help guide us through life, the Bible tells us otherwise. In fact, it tells us that our hearts are deceitful and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9)! It’s the very reason we have to teach our kids to “be good”; you will never have to teach them how to be selfish, or deceitful, or disobedient… that comes naturally. We spend years of our lives trying to eradicate those bad behaviors; we teach them how to share with their friends, to say “please” and “thank you”, and to be honest when caught in difficult situations. However good behaviors will only last so long if their hearts do not change. Their hearts, and our hearts, need to be following a Savior that turns our inclinations towards Him. When we find our identity in Christ our words and actions will reflect him. All of a sudden we desire to show kindness to one another and forgive those who have wronged us because we acknowledge that that’s what Christ showed to us! We begin to empathize with those who are hurting, show understanding to those who are different than us, and love the “unlovable” because we realize that everyone is made in the image of God! Our view of self is put into perspective because we are suddenly not at the center of the universe.
On the flip side, if our children are placing their identity in things such as appearance, popularity, significance, and/or approval from others their words and actions will follow. It’s of no wonder that narcissism and the ideology that “I’m Better Than You” can creep in. Now we see how a 13-year-old could write such a nasty comment towards a classmate, or purposely exclude someone at school, or spread rumors that aren’t true. In some twisted way, they feel better about themselves by making someone else feel worse. The root of bullying often stems from the bully lacking empathy, believing that he/she is better than the victim… and isn’t that the same root that leads to racism, bigotry, and other injustices?
Ultimately only God can change our heart’s desires and without changed hearts our good behaviors will be done in vain. As parents we are responsible for preparing our children to make their own decisions, therefore we should be constantly pointing them towards a Savior that can guide them and ultimately save them from self.