I was in an online Bible study the other day where we were discussing how culture is impacting Christianity. One woman spoke up. “Our culture is a bully. It bullies Christians for their beliefs.” While I am not in favor of developing a victim mentality, she is right. When you compare the tactics a bully uses and how Christians are often treated when they share their beliefs and God’s commands, the resemblance is striking.
If your kids believe in God and attempt to obey all of His commands, they will be different from their peers – even sadly many of their Christian peers. God calls His people to live a life so different from the surrounding culture that they stand out. In many cases, this will cause people unfamiliar with God’s culture to ask questions. Hopefully, some of these questioners will become Christians themselves.
Unfortunately, even churches and ministers have crumbled under the bullying. They have allowed the culture’s name calling and emotional reactions to influence how they read the Bible. They would rather find a way to reject God’s direct commands in order to better blend in with the culture and stop the bullying than stand up to it.
Your kids are going to make a choice to blend with the culture around them unless you prepare them to stand up to its bullying. What everyone seems to have forgotten is that a bully only has as much power over your choices as you give them. You can teach your kids how not to give culture’s bullies power over their lives and choices.
Here are a few ways to prepare your kids to stand up to culture’s bullying successfully.
- Help them develop a confident faith. Young people who have really strong spiritual foundations are more confident in standing up to culture and being counter cultural. This will take a lot of work on your part. Your kids need to really know what’s in the Bible, who God wants them to be and how to do those things God wants them to do. They need training in apologetics and logical fallacies. They will be battling a cultural Goliath and just like David, they need to spend their younger years developing the skills they will need to be confident to follow God’s will for their lives.
- They need strong connections to people of different ages in their church family. They need to find those one or two teens that are also being raised to defy culture. They need older Christians they love and trust enough to listen to their counsel or to be reassured by when being strong feels impossible. They need to be around examples of people really living their faith on a regular basis. They need godly friends when the loneliness of being different is painful. This goes beyond even regular church attendance. Bring that valuable hospitality in your home and regularly have people from your church family over post COVID so your kids really think of them as family.
- Prepare your kids to speak up. Your kids need to be able to defend their faith with love and patience, but firmly enough that the culture’s bullies walk away when their only intent is to harass. Once again, this means knowing the Bible well, becoming familiar with effective apologetics and lots of practice conversations in your home. They also need to learn self control. Lashing back when bullied only strengthens the bully who is looking for an emotional response. Staying calm and clear will discourage many bullies from continuing to pursue.
- Teach your kids when to disengage. Jesus told his disciples there are times when they needed to just dust off their sandals and move on. Your kids don’t need to waste their time and energy on debating people who are entrenched in their support of culture over God. There are plenty of people who are open to learning about a way of life that is fuller and richer than the shallow pleasures of culture. Your kids need to learn when to engage and when just to walk away from the ugly challenges culture likes to throw at Christians.
- Teach your kids strategies for responding quickly and consistently to cultural challenges. Having predetermined strategies for handling common scenarios will help your children quickly and consistently handle temptations to join culture in ways that go against God. Helping them set limits of how they allow themselves to be exposed to culture can keep them from gradually being won over by it. Encouraging them to have a standard response to certain challenges will make it easier for them to think on their feet when confronted.
- Teach your kids to STOP. When your kids are confronted by something in culture that confuses them, teach them to remember to stop. Stop is an acronym for stop, think about what culture is actually saying to them or asking them to do, consider all of their options, pray about it and then make a choice. Taking that extra time can help your kids remove themselves from the heat of the moment emotionally and lead them to make better choices.
- Tell your kids it’s okay to ask for help. Young children are often told not to tattle. Teach your kids there is a huge difference from telling an adult something silly merely designed to cause trouble for someone else and asking for help from someone who can help them or someone else be more godly and avoid temptation. Your kids need to feel safe coming to you and expressing their emotions, experiences and more without fear of an over reaction from you. Often if they could come tell you when the bullying first starts, you can give them the help they need. If they don’t tell anyone who can help them navigate the bullying, they may give into the culture’s bullies like many of their peers have done.
Preparing your kids to stand up to culture’s bullies is essential if you want them to become faithful, productive Christians. It is hard work, but it’s work you really must do to protect your kids.