We say the same things this time every year because the older we get, the more time seems to get away from us: “I can’t believe the kids/grandchildren are heading back to school!”
So, while it seems like summer was just beginning the other day (or even spring), we watch as the young ones we love get ready to head back into their respective schools. And we wish those schools were a safe haven where learning took place each day and solid morals and values that we teach at home were reinforced.
In reality, most of us are all too aware that our children/grandchildren will be heading back to school in a world we never really experienced. Our children are growing up in a digital world and one where right and wrong seem to often be a shifting paradigm. The learning curve is much faster — and much different — than most of us remember when growing up.
As parents of a soon to be middle-school age child, we ask ourselves hard questions: How do we teach our child to be strong and stand up for himself without being a bully? How do we teach him to love and respect others, regardless of their beliefs, while not being ashamed of Christ?
The questions are not the least bit rhetorical. In fact, we subscribe to the theory that growing up in the Midwest, due to seemingly ever-changing societal priorities in the last few years, may be harder than it has ever been.
In our family and our church, I explain that my life motto — my “hashtag” as it would be called these days — is simple and straightforward. I/we will respect where you’re coming from, regardless of where you stand. But I/we expect the same respect from you. And when it comes to Christ, I am “not on the fence,” period.
For our young son, we explain that loving others, while standing firm in Christ, comes down to choices. My wife, Amber, broke it down for him a year or so back while sending him out the door: “Remember this: Make good choices. Be a leader. And no matter what, I love you.”
As children head back to school, we should expect them to lead by example with the love of Christ, loving others and knowing that they too are loved.
Christopher Dixon is the Chief Operating Officer of eLectio Publishing (electiopublishing.com) and the pastor of West Finley Baptist Church near Fordland, Mo.