Not on my Watch!
I had the privilege of judging in the Stoa National Invitational Tournament of Champions for speech and debate this week. The tournament boasted more than six hundred junior high and high school home school contestants from twenty-seven states. Dressed like professionals for their presentations, and armed with months of careful study and preparation, these students present a striking contrast to the YouTube images of flash mobs (now called ‘flash robs’ by police) in which hordes of mindless, greedy young people rush into stores and rob everything in sight before making a mass exit.
In world in which youthful energy is often channeled toward destructive behavior, I watched as these students passionately articulated their faith, demonstrated a commitment to understanding truth, and modeled something called character. I observed more godliness exemplified in these young people than I have observed in many adults who claim to be followers of Christ. To be sure, they are young people dealing with the same growing pains most every teen experiences. Still there was something very different about the average student in this group from what I see even in most church youth groups. These were thinkers, students of the Word, and leaders with a passion for life and their Lord. I had to ask myself what made these young people so aware of the realities of life and so committed to truth and righteousness?
Based upon what I observed and heard, I believe the answer to that question can be explained with one word: home. The difference is not an issue of homeschool verse public school. Rather it is rooted in a home environment that stands apart from the typical home in America today. Specifically, these are homes characterized by integrity and an intentionality regarding the priority of responsible parenthood. These are homes in which the parents (and grandparents) take seriously their responsibility to be the primary means by which their children learn those things that really matter in life and for eternity. They have not relegated that responsibility to others, including the church. They have taken ownership for that which has been assigned to them from the beginning by God.
God told Moses to tell the people to “be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (Deut. 4:9). Then there was the command to take God’s commands and “impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 6:6-7).
This was the thing that set these families apart from so many others. They took these responsibilities seriously and have done all they could to teach their children by their own example. And it has paid off with amazing dividends.
I know that these kids represent a very small minority in the total population. Still, it gave me great hope to realize that there are kids like this who could be our lawyers, politicians and community leaders for tomorrow. I want to encourage them to stand firm in the Lord and to resist the temptation to surrender to the cultural lies of our day. As a grandparent, I want to cheer them on and encourage them to not forget what they have learned.
The mess that exists in our world today has occurred on our watch. It is our responsibility as grandparents and parents to stand in the gap and give these young people of today all the support and encouragement we can give them. We must find a way to partner with our adult children in this process of training up our grandchildren in truth. If you adult children don’t get it, and aren’t engaged in teaching their children the truth, I urge you to get on your knees, seek God’s wisdom and strength, and then find a way to effectively and intentionally show them the way of truth.
There’s too much at stake if we don’t.
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