You can’t protect your kid from all the bad influences in this world, but you can prepare your kids to reject those bad influences. Join AMBrewster as he shows Christian parents how to turn bad influences into non-influences.
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Thank you for joining us! Truth.Love.Parent. is the number one iTunes podcast for Christian parents, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to serve so many of your families.
If this is your first time with us, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Aaron and I’m the director of Victory Academy for Boys, which is a boarding school for at-risk teens in northern Wisconsin. We work with families from all over the US, so if you know of someone with a struggling teen boy, we’d love to help in any way that we can.
In addition to the eight teen boys who join my family every year, my wife is Johanna, my son is Micah, and my daughter is Ivy.
I have a dog named Éowyn, my wife has a cat named Nefaterie, my son has a snake named Scarlet, and my daughter has a rabbit named Bunny-Man. I also keep honey bees — which I haven’t named — and we have some ducks.
My family loves God’s creation and nearly every activity that can be done outside. We love the arts including music and acting, painting and textiles. We’re also all martial artists to one degree or another, and we homeschool our kids.
And — to be honest — we’re just a little bit weird. You can ask all of our friends, and they will confirm that fact for you.
Seriously, though, we love the Lord and are so blessed to be His followers. We can clearly see Him actively working in our lives to sanctify us and conform us to His image.
We covet your prayers. Working at a boys’ home is challenging, but it's also eternally rewarding. And even though I absolutely love doing this podcast, it does take some serious effort. Please pray that the Lord continues to drag me to His Word for guidance and give me the wisdom and power to glorify Him through this podcast.
Lastly, I have a great team of volunteers who do various things for the ministry. And we wouldn’t be able to do any of it if it weren’t for our awesome patrons who support us with their sacrificial giving.
In fact, two of those Patrons, Matt and Sonja recently hosted our first-ever TLP meetup. And I want to tell you how it went and why you should consider hosting one, but I don’t have time to do that today, so be sure to subscribe and stay tuned for an amazing account of what God did in Dallas.
So, this is us, and I pray that your time with us will accomplish our mission of glorifying God by equipping dads and moms to be intentional, premeditated, disciple-making, Ambassador Parents.
And to that end our topic today is turning bad influences into non-influences.
The idea came to me during our last series when we talked about Unified Family Worship and we talked about the importance of removing negative influences and influencers from your family’s life.
But there’s a fine line between sheltering and equipping, between protecting and preparing, and that’s what I want to discuss today.
In addition to that, I want to flesh out the idea that we can take something that was hugely influential in our lives and we can turn it into something that has no influence on us whatsoever.
So, let’s put some meat on these bones.
First of all, during our pilot season we did an episode called “Prepare Your Kids. Don’t Protect Them.” On that show I discussed an article from Doug Wilson in which he argues that our kids do need to be protected from some things, but most of those are few and far between. However, our main goal as parents are to prepare our kids to encounter and overcome the dangerous elements in the world.
I recommend you check out that episode as a follow-up to today’s.
But what does protection and preparation look like?
1. We need to acknowledge that God will never bring anything into our kids lives that they cannot overcome in His strength.
I Corinthians 10:13 promises us that — in every temptation we face — God has prepared a way for us to escape it.
The first observation I want to make is that this protection is always an internal protection, and occasionally an outward protection.
God never promises health and wealth. He promises persecution and hatred, but He also promises peace and contentment and joy and strength in the midst of those trials.
When your child is confronted by bullies, God doesn’t promise to necessarily overcome the bullies. The Lord, in His mercy and grace may allow the bully to be stopped or caught in some way, but what God promises is the strength your child needs to be loving in the face of hatred, the soul rest to endure, the contentment to battle his doubts, and the joy to overcome his anxiety and depression.
Secondly, please notice that this promise is only offered to those who worship God with their lives. The very next verse says, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”
In light of the fact that God offers this escape from the temptation to sin, the only way we’ll be able to access that escape is to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable to God which is our reasonable act of worship.
This means that this promises is not extended to those who reject a relationship with Him. I mean, He offers that same escape, but the first step will be to acknowledge His authority and grace.
In addition, God uses these difficult situations and interaction with negative influences to sanctify your born again children.
He’s using each temptation to help your child build their spiritual muscles in order to overcome larger obstacles in the future.
And God also uses us in that process. That’s why . . .
2. We need to partner with God to prepare our children to overcome negative influences.
This is why we fulfill the responsibilities about which we just learned in our “Parents 5 Jobs” series.
We Educate our children in order for them to learn how to respond to negative influences.
When our children give into the sinful influences in their lives, we Reprove them and help them Reinterpret what happened in the light of the Truth they previously dismissed.
When they submit to that Truth, we Counsel our kids how to turn from being influenced to being the influencer, and we Train them to continue in that.
And, as we mentioned in episode 188, one of the ways we train our kids is to give them opportunities to overcome.
That means — if we’re training them to overcome negative influences — we need to allow them to come in contact with negative influences so they can practice overcoming it in the Truth and power of Christ.
We can’t shelter them from all negative influences. We can’t put them in a bubble and hope they never have to choose between righteous and evil, because you can’t perfectly shelter them, and — before you know it — the snow globe you’ve tried to keep them in will shatter and you will no longer have any influence over them.
And then what? They’ll be out on their own without having learned the skills and built up the spiritual muscle enough to worship God instead of self and accept the escape God provides.
Now, that doesn’t mean that we never protect them from anything.
But how do we know from what they should be protected and for what they should be prepared?
3. We should only protect our children from the things they don’t have the ability to overcome.
If you haven’t taken the time to teach your children how to respond to offers from a drug dealer, and if you haven’t been helping your child submit their lusts to Christ, and if you haven’t taught your kids to find their true satisfaction in God, then I’d suggest that setting them loose in a public school where drug dealers abound is a pretty terrible idea.
And — again — this is where so many parents struggle. I know I do!
Here’re the things that normally happen:
A. Some parents haven’t even tried to prepare their kids or protect them.
B. Some parents haven’t tried to prepare their kids because they’re relying completely on their ability to protect them.
C. Many parents think their kids have been prepared, but they’re not, so when the parents remove the protection, the kids fail. That was I as a teen.
D. Some parents are actively preparing their kids and trying to protect them, but — though this is the best option — it’s fraught with difficulties in knowing how much is enough or too much.
So, let me offer what I hope is helpful advice.
How do you know from what your kids need to be protected and how do you know what they’re ready to overcome?
Allow me to borrow a ideology from SpiderMan: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
But, you know what, I believe Uncle Ben learned this principle from the Bible. Luke 16:10 says, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”
And in Luke 12:48, Jesus says, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
Your children are ready for a marathon when they can successfully run 26 miles. They’re ready for a 5K when they can run 3 miles. They’re ready to run a mile when they run 5/6ths of a mile.
They’re ready to run when they can jog, jog when they can walk, walk when they can step, and step when they can stand.
We don’t ask a toddler to run a marathon.
And somehow we understand this principle when it comes to basic physical ability, but we completely miss this reality when it comes to spiritual ability.
Have your children proven that they have a relationship with God and have access to the power of the Holy Spirit?
Have they proven that they have the know-how to overcome or escape temptation in the little things?
Listen, if your teen still refuses to clean their room, overeats, doesn’t show moderation in their gaming, enjoys music with sinful lyrics, and is constantly sneaking behind your backs, then I guarantee you they shouldn’t have unfettered access to the drug dealers, the internet or the pantry. They will need certain accountability structures and rules to protect them from themselves and the people that they’re proven they do not have the spiritual maturity to overcome.
I promise you that the local public school system is going to be a dangerous place for your teen.
Now, that doesn’t mean that no child should go to a public school.
I did a whole show about this in episode 80. In that episode we talk all about whether or not your kids are ready to stand victorious for God in that environment, but the reality is that the vast majority of “Christian” kids in the public school are not being victorious . . . they’re being victimized.
And this is crux of our question today. How do we take a negative influence and turn it into a non-influence?
Here’s the answer: you don’t change the influence, you change the person being influenced.
Until sin and Satan are thrown into the Lake of Fire, we will always be tempted from the outside, but sin doesn’t occur because we were tempted on the outside, sin occurs because we’re tempted from the inside.
James 1 tells us that “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
We remove the teeth from the external temptation when we empower the internal man. This is what we call maturity. This is what we call sanctification.
And now we’ve made full-circle. This is what God is actively trying to do in your child’s life. And this is what He wants to use you to accomplish in your children as you become His Ambassador and use His Word to educate, interpret for, counsel, and train your kids.
This is why Jesus wasn’t overcome by 40 days of temptation from Satan. It didn’t matter what external temptations He faced, His internal faithfulness to the Father and His reliance on the Scriptures helped Him escape each temptation.
So, in conclusion, allow me to apply another passage of Scripture that will give us even more direction in how to help our kids mature to the place that the old bad influences no longer have the power to influence.
But before I do that, let me ask you that — if this podcast has been a blessing to you — please tell your pastor about it. Pastors and counselors and spiritual leaders are always looking for more resources that will help them equip their people to glorify God. Please consider sharing Truth.Love.Parent. with your pastor and your friends.
And don’t forget about our free episode notes at Taking Back the Family.
And on our next episode — the last of Season 7 — we’re going to talk about “Parenting Like Jonah.” It’s not a good thing, but we’re all tempted to do it.
I pray it will be a powerful admonishment to all of us.
Alright, as we close, let’s consider Ephesians 6:10-18. I plan to do a series on this passage, but for now let’s apply it to today’s discussion.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”
How do we remove the teeth from the schemes of the devil and from the rulers and authorities and cosmic powers and spiritual forces of evil who are trying to pierce your children with flaming darts?
1. Parent your children to find their strength in the Lord.
2. Parent your children to ground their lives in Truth.
3. Parent your kids to live righteously.
4. Parent them to submit to and share the gospel of peace.
5. Parent them to believe all that God says in His Word.
6. Parent your sons and daughters toward a saving relationship in Christ.
7. Parent your children to know how to use the Bible.
8. Parent your kids to understand and love prayer.
As you do this, protecting your children from the influences they are not yet ready to overcome through God’s strength, you will be helping them build their spiritual muscles so that the things that were once difficult temptations to overcome are no longer temptations at all.
And as they grow, the will be able to withstand in the evil day, and stand firm.
If that possibility doesn’t thrill you to your core, you need God.
Our parenting may be difficult, but we have all the same promises that our kids have. That means that no matter how challenging our parenting may seem, we can have the same peace and joy and contentment and strength and victory that God is promising to your kids as they submit to Him and workout their spiritual muscles.
So, to that end . . . I’ll see you next time.
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