I’m not sure whether it is good news or bad news, but it may be easier than ever for your children to stand out as salt and light in the world.
In Raising Kids Who Are Salt and Light, we talked about the necessity for your kids to stand out and be different in godly ways. When they do, they will draw other young people and adults to want to learn more about God…which is exactly why God told us to stand out in those godly ways.
So how can your kids be salt and light in their world? There are a lot of little things that make the difference, but focusing on some of these main areas will make your kids stand out in a good way:
- Being polite and courteous. Sounds silly, but in today’s world young people who live out Ephesians 4:32 and are kind to others are becoming more and more uncommon. Train your children to be polite and courteous as a way of showing kindness to others. Your kids don’t have to be like little soldiers (and I know yes ma’am can be a regional thing), but the more standard, old world manners they display to others, the more they will be light to the world. Remember though, the most important thing is that their hearts are just as kind and thoughtful as their actions. Kids who are taught to be polite, but allowed to have disrespectful, unkind and unloving attitudes about others will eventually reflect darkness, not light to those around them. Whether they will admit it or not, everyone – even kids – wants to be treated with the respect someone who is polite and courteous shows them.
- Being an encourager. I don’t know about you, but I often have to go on sabbaticals from the news. It just seems like the bad outweighs the good more and more each day. Life can be discouraging. Young people especially can have it tough as their high, sometimes naive, expectations take a hit from the harsh reality of the world. Most people, like the Israelites, shift into complaint mode. Or they tear down others to try and make themselves look better. If your kids can be encouragers like Barnabas, they will stand out just like he did as a positive reflection of God. Help your kids monitor their speech. Point out to them the story of the fire and quail in Numbers (chapter 11) and the mentions of Barnabas in Acts. Who was more pleasing to God? Make sure you set a good example for your kids and let them see you modeling encouragement to others.
- Being Joyful. I’m not expecting your kids to be happy all of the time. Think of joy more as a confident contentment. Chances are though if you have a godly home, with a solid marriage, ample family bonding time and all those pluses of living a godly life, your kids will also be naturally happier than many of their peers. They will stand out because they don’t have to be upset about the horrible, ungodly things happening in their home. Sure bad stuff still happens, but it is usually the stuff that comes from living in a broken world. Others will naturally want to know why your family is different.
- Making more good choices than poor ones (and is comfortable with those choices.) One of the casualties of modern society is that many parents don’t have the time or energy to teach their kids how to make good choices. Kids are left to figure things out on their own or with the help of equally inexperienced peers. The results are often at best misguided and at worst unwise and sinful. If you have really worked with your kids and taught them the importance of making godly choices, when they consistently make wise choices, they will often stand out from their peers. Sadly, many of their peers have been taught that making bad, sinful choices is part of the “fun” of being young. A young person who is confident in making godly choices will be a light in any situation.
- Being a servant leader. Ever really thought about why Jesus talked about the first being last and the last being first? I think Jesus taught and obviously modeled servant leadership. Teach your kids humility and the importance of a servant heart. Teach them leading others is not about bossing people around, but about serving them and pointing them to godly ways to achieve their goals. There are a lot of parents who raise kids who can lead in the world’s view of leadership. Very few though raise servant leaders. If your kids are godly, my belief is they will lead others. It may not be as President, but others will look to them for guidance and leadership, precisely because they are salt and light. Prepare your kids to lead by teaching them to always be servant leaders.
- Knowing what they believe and why they believe it. There is always a lot of talk about young adults making their faith their own. It is so much easier if they are taught about God and what He wants from them and for them from an early age. Your kids also need to understand why, you and hopefully they, believe in God and His principles and commands. This isn’t one lesson, Bible study or discussion. It takes years of answering questions and looking at scriptures and examples in the Bible together. You don’t have to have all of the answers, but if you struggle, you may want to study beside your kids. When your family is salt and light to the world, there will be questions. Some will be easy, but others may be very difficult indeed. You want your kids to be able to point others to God and help them find their way to follow Him.
Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? I would imagine though, as a Christian parent you are already working on many if not all of these things with your kids. Yes, your ultimate goal is to have your kids with you in Heaven. Wouldn’t it be wonderful though if they are salt and light and there are others in Heaven because your kids were ready and able to point them to God and the story in this manager scene?