It’s interesting how one question or comment can quickly turn the mood in the room; how an intimate inquiry can lead everyone else to feel uncomfortable or wishing they were invisible. Does tackling those intimate and taboo topics fall under your job description as a leader? Technically our job is to disciple, right?
It seems that the weight of discipleship gets thrown around from one group to the next, like a hot potato. Shouldn’t the job of discussing hard topics lie on the shoulders of the parents? If so, then are we as leaders to remain silent? Is there an unseen line that is understood to not be crossed? What is our role?!
To answer the question, we should talk about the hard things with our girls so that we can R.E.A.C.H. our girls. I have outlined each letter from the acronym below.
This word is not to be taken lightly. Bodies bend under the weight of expectations and muscles cramp from the amount of accountability that follow. Our duty as Christians is to make disciples (Matt. 28:19). It extends beyond a duty and is a command. Being responsible is understanding what is expected and following through. What lies at stake is the spiritual health of those in our immediate circle. Whoever is in your life is in your circle.
Obedient parents that are discipling their children do not negate your responsibilities to disciple those children as part of a faith community. God intends for us to build one another up in love and to hold one another together the same way that ligaments support other parts (Eph. 4:16). By discipling those in our lives, we are offering support to the body of Christ by being a support to certain members of the body, the parents.
This word can seem dangerous in certain circles. There is an ideology that believes shielding children from every wicked thing will protect them to the point of piety. I argue that it is more dangerous to shield them to the point of ignorance, clouded in naiveness. Intentionally leaving our children in the dark, shoo-ing away any questions they have or giving up opportunities to teach a Biblical worldview response, is giving them over to the very thing we are protecting them from. If we do not discuss hard topics, how will they make informed decisions? How will they be able to discern what is right (Rom. 10:14-15)?
We live in a post-modern world that says your worldview should be a collage of experiences, your ideologies ebbing and flowing with the culture, and “what is true for you is not true for me” is an expected point of view. It is not a coincidence that extremely popular people in the media are called “influencers”, because they do just that.
If we don’t talk about the hard things, the only voices they hear are those that are the loudest (Col. 2:8). Those voices are loud because they hold a popular opinion. And if we have learned anything, it is that Jesus was NOT popular with the mainstream culture. It should be noted that this point is not a proponent for throwing children into sketchy situations for the sake of “exposure and learning.” That’s called being irresponsible. Responsible exposure means being involved in their learning and making it a point to talk about why we believe what we proclaim, and how to respond to the hard topics.
When the inevitable storm comes, a ship will succumb if there is no anchor. But why does that happen? It is a known fact that the forces in the ocean are greater than those of a ship. Therefore, without a fixed and centralized point, the ship stands no chance of staying steady. We need to talk about the hard things so when the loud howls of the culture and strong currents of opinion flood their decks, their minds will return to the anchor, which is their steady worldview that comes from Christ and the truth in His Word. By applying the Biblical truths and principles to any and all issues, our girls will see how they can weather any storm (Col. 2:6-7).
Growth happens when there is an obstacle that demands more attention, focus, and power to overcome it. We want to challenge our youth so that they can grow and be steady in the storm. We want to prepare them effectively (1 Pet. 3:15). After talking about these topics, we can ask them questions to help them see practical applications. Talk about a topic that is trending and how it can be viewed from a Biblical standpoint. Ask how we should respond to what is currently happening.
We know that our heart cannot be trusted (Jer. 17:9). Everywhere you look there are signs, songs, and shirts encouraging you to “follow your heart…trust your heart, it knows best.” It is propaganda at best and is utter nonsense. God made emotions and they are not inherently bad. However, our emotions can warp our sense of right and wrong and we are called to bring them in line with God’s Word (Phil. 4:6-7, 2 Cor. 10:5). Our culture feeds on emotions and will use whatever means to manipulate those emotions to support their agenda. We need to talk about the hard things so the youth will know what is right and wrong and can stand on truth instead of changing with their emotions.
Our world is noisy. Technology has put the world in the hands of our youth. They are bombarded by the barking of their peers’ opinions. Everyone claims to be an expert, yet there is no consensus? How are they supposed to navigate this world in a Christ-honoring way? We need to R.E.A.C.H. them. It is our responsibility to expose, anchor, and challenge their hearts. We do this by talking about the hard things.
Bethany Zavala is the daughter of a pastor and grew up in church. She was saved through God’s grace during a revival at the age of 7. Since then she has been in pursuit of Jesus. God led her to the Baptist College of Florida where she and her husband met. After graduating they left to serve in ministry. Bethany’s main ministry is to care for two little humans aged 3.5 and 2. When not wiping away artwork on the walls, you can find her in her garden foraging for veggies. She loves to serve her sixth grade girls Sunday School class. More recently Bethany is an independent contractor for Vipkid. This allows her to teach English to kids in China stateside. She loves to read, play sudoku, and drink her tea while it’s still hot.