2020: The Year Our Children Need Purpose
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School Leader Bible Study
2020: The Year Our Children Need Purpose
Week of January 26, 2020 by Tom Deighan
Last week, we explored how many children have lost hope, believing the world will end before they can finish their thirties. In an age when even young children have smart phones, they need the adults in their lives to provide perspective and hope on adult issues. For without our guidance and perspective, they are left victim to whatever link pops up in their feeds. Sadly, the same harmful influencers robbing them of hope offer them a cheap alternative for the big picture: selfie culture.
When the big world is too terrifying, our children naturally retreat to something safe, controlled, and understandable. Unfortunately, self-obsession is not healthy, either. The mythological Narcissus robbed himself of any meaningful purpose by falling in love with his reflection – something that was not real. If only he had photoshop and Instagram! He would have had millions of followers who could affirm his personal truth, no matter how bizarre. In an age when image is more important than reality, truth is no longer absolute or even relative. It is entirely manipulatable. Entirely personal. Entirely empty of meaning. No wonder nearly 90% of young people in England see no purpose in life.
Nevertheless, our children do not want to be self-absorbed. This generation professes a deep desire for purpose. They want to be part of something bigger and more meaningful, but without healthy perspectives, personal truth trumps all. The same studies that reveal young people are losing hope confirm that they simultaneously seek purpose and deeper meaning in their life. The only thing that many of them have, however, is the empty selfie culture that drives them deeper into despair.
I recently watched the Resilience movie, which focuses on the impact of childhood trauma. It also reinforces a priceless truth: children need caring adults in their lives because even when they face terrible trauma, the support of caring adults enables them to overcome just about anything. Likewise, we provide them with perspective and understanding for life in general. Children and teens need adults in their lives to help them gain proper perspective on an uncertain future and on an empty selfie culture. They will roll their eyes. They will push back. And sometimes, they will even rebel, but they need adults in their lives willing to be adults, not their friends.
This month, our nation celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who brought hope to millions. In many ways, he served as the adult that helped a nation see itself for what it was and the future for what it could be. Truth was not relative to Dr. King; it was absolute. He was the caring but truthful adult for our nation. Dr. King saw a hopeful future despite the realities of his day. He did not do this by escaping from the truth but by clearly seeing it for what it was. He loved this nation enough to be honest with us, and in doing so, we found purpose. At first, the nation rolled its eyes. It then pushed back. Eventually it cost him his life, but his strong voice saved our nation.
As Christians who happen to be educators, we live with purpose. We not only know the God who created us, but you have answered His call to serve “the least of these My brethren.” (Matt. 25:40) And how many cups of cold water have you given to children in his name! (Matt 10:42) You are doubly blessed with purpose, so who better to help our children to find purpose! In a nation that has turned it upside-down, our children need the strong guidance of adults in their lives – for reassurance, for direction, for hope, and for purpose.
Our children need the same fortitude in the adults in their lives to help them see the selfie culture for what it is – entertainment and escapism. When we indulge their “personal truths” too much, we passively endorse anything and everything under the sun. And unfortunately, when everything is ok, nothing has purpose. Our children need caring adults to help them find clear vision in 2020, so they can make sense of the future and find meaning in the present. They cannot find true purpose on their own. They need caring adults, schools, churches, and communities to help them along. May God strengthen each of us to be adults in our students’ and children’s lives. May our churches be brave enough to re-engage their local public schools. May we all have the clarity of vision and purpose of men like Dr. King. And may 2020 be the year Christ restores hope and purpose to our nation’s children.
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