Yale Law School’s Anthony Kronman once said that his Aristotelian worldview failed him.
It did not address his, “Deep, deep, bone deep belief in the infinite preciousness and value of the individual,” said Kronman, who, although he remains agnostic, admitted that that idea comes from one place. “That’s a biblical idea,” he said.
Secular scholars bearing witness to the Bible in this way is great for Christian parents. It adds intellectual ballast to what our kids are already taught at home – that God made all people in his image (Genesis 1:27) and that we are to stand up for each other because of that.
How do you teach your kids?
“Scripture tells us that Jesus condemned those who wanted to throw stones at the adulterous woman (John 8:7),” said Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy. Today, when society is picking up rocks to throw at marginalized people, we Christians can stand up. We can intercede. “We can be stone catchers,” said Stevenson. “Then we make a statement about our faith that is transformative.”
We, the parents of this generation, would like to grow up transformative “stone catcher” kids who care about the infinite preciousness of all people. Here are three steps to help.
1. Teach kids to THINK. We all come to God like little children (Matt 18:3). Maintaining that childlike faith while maturing our thinking is something that takes, as Protestant forefather John Calvin explained, a high view of God’s sovereignty combined with an earnest use of our minds.
Our kids come from a long line of systematic thinkers, who were determined to think through a complicated situation even when the powerful elite didn’t like it. Take the apostle Paul for instance, when officer Festus tried pressuring Paul to pipe down by saying to him, “You are mad, Paul; much learning is driving you mad.” (Acts 26:24-29)
It was not learning and thinking that was driving Paul mad, it was the injustice of Paul’s situation at that time. However, when push came to shove, Paul stuck it out, “speaking words of truth and reason.” (Acts 26:24-29)
Our kids can feel encouraged to do that too.
2. Remind kids: DON’T COMPARE. The problems of our world belong on everybody’s shoulders, so why should our kids bear the burden of “stone catching” as if it’s just on them?
They shouldn’t. It isn’t. Any one of us is called to do what is ours to do.
Problematic to that, however, is that we Christians are tempted to ditch a task that’s ours to do when we compare ourselves to what somebody else has going on.
Just ask the apostle Peter.
Despite Peter’s painful decision to deny Jesus three times, Jesus still appeared to Peter later and asked Peter to “feed my sheep.”. However, just when Peter should have been focused on his own marching orders from Jesus, Peter glanced over at a fellow apostle standing nearby and wanted to know what Jesus had coming up next for that guy. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” (John 21:21)
As Jesus instructed Peter, it is enough for us to do ours; it is not on us to track everyone else’s. We parents can remind our kids that too.
3. PERSUADE kids: stop bossing everybody else around. When the apostle Paul went into one synagogue after another, it was to persuade his audience (Acts 17:2). Our social media-saturated kids could use some training on the idea that persuasion is different than just telling everybody else what they should be doing.
To persuade, “You have to be tactical and strategic,” said Bryan Stevenson. “We can’t just proclaim our truth … and get mad at anyone who doesn’t see it the way we do.”
The apostle Paul exercised this discipline extensively throughout his ministry. He discussed, disputed, reasoned; he did what the Bible calls dialegomai with a persuasive resolve page after page.
Any parents panicked about teaching our kids to do that well? Of course we are. However, we have the backing of parents since the beginning of time who, looking a hard thing in the face, gave their level b-e-s-t which is spelled different than p-e-r-f-e-c-t-i-o-n for a reason. (Honest Answers, p. 13)
It’s not on us parents to be perfect, but it is on us to pass down the stone-catching ethic of love that even agnostic scholars say is our Christian legacy and furthermore state that, “Everything else is just idle postmodern talk.”
Our kids can get idle postmodern talk anywhere. Parents want to awaken our kids to think, to resist comparison, and to learn persuasive skills that will position them to, with perseverance, run the “stone catcher” race that has been set before them (Hebrews 12:1-2).
He wishes we would.
Janelle Alberts is a freelance writer and has written for Christianity Today and RELEVANT online pubs. Her first book, Honest Answers: Exploring God Questions With Your Tween, preps parents on how to tackle hard questions with their tweens using pithy Q&A’s and can be found here.