Archive for October, 2014

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“Let’s talk about it.”

One of the joys of this school year has been a change to “Bible teacher.” Though it brings a lot of preparation work, I have enjoyed the opportunity to interact with students as we study God’s Word together. Bible class is also an opportunity to discuss “what is on the mind” of students who are maturing and attempting to make sense of life and society around us. Questions like, “Is there such a thing as Christian Rock music?”, “Can a professional sports player be a Christian?”, “Can a Christian go to the movies?”, and many others come to the surface for discussion. Now, of course, sometimes the goal is to get Mr. Musser on a bunny trail. I don’t want to waste students’ time, but sometimes these questions are sincere as students attempt to solidify their beliefs.

In one particular discussion (in which students apparently did not agree), the question was brought to me to lay the “trump card” as the final evidence that one particular side was right. This was a wonderful opportunity to engage the students in proper thinking processes, rather than just “trumping” the conversation with a pat answer. Part of the thinking process that I promote (and always will promote) to students is that mom and dad know better than I do, because mom and dad are more responsible for your spiritual welfare than I am. The ground rules for our discussion went something like this: First, we must clarify the question and make sure that we are answering the right question, because there is little value in having all the right answers to all the wrong questions. Second, we must decide who would have wise advice in answering the question and then label the “tiers,” or advisors, from least authoritative to most authoritative. The students agreed with me that this list should be ordered peers, teachers, parents, church, and God’s Word. It is interesting to me that this list could probably also be described as being in order from “least stable” to “most stable.” The question had already risen among peers who were undecided, unsure, and unstable about the question at hand– that is why they came to me! The unfortunate thing about these cultural issues that are raised among peers is that the unstable peer group has a lot of influence but little wisdom. I assured the students that I am completely settled on the question at hand, but it is not my job to tell them my settled position. Rather, my job is to assist them in coming to theirs.

Obviously, my parents in time past, my church, and God’s Word is what settled this question in my mind; because they were completely stable, unwavering, and sure of how to answer the question at hand. This process of coming to conviction must be exactly that– a process. Students have different friends with different answers who discuss and debate and haggle over their unsettled questions. This is okay to a point, but the wise student (and parent) must raise these discussions, put the facts on the table, and make a wise determination based on a study of God’s Word and insight from the local church’s position. Unfortunately, what happens all too often is two sides of peers are drawn up who chant their position louder and louder against the other peer group’s chant. Neither group has the wisdom to consult wiser, more stable, and more settled sources and actually develop meaningful personal convictions on the matter. Students must understand that it is easy to chant along with their good Christian friends who mostly agree on a certain position, but that “chanting” does not prove a wise, settled, personal conviction. What proves their personal conviction is how they live, and what they do in solitude (when no one is looking), or in situations of negative peer pressure (when everyone is looking). Conviction that continually stands in these situations is real conviction and cannot be developed by one conversation or one little discourse in which dad “sets it straight” for the child. This type of conviction is the result of a wise thinking process that is built into a child little by little, conversation by conversation, by teachers, parents, and Biblical instruction.

As parents we must be committed to developing wise thinking processes in our children, so that they act on settled, personal conviction rather than just on “what dad told me one time,” or “what my church tells me to do.” Obviously, a parent’s personal conviction and the expectation of the church is an important boundary to a young person, but the wisdom in the placement of the boundary is as important as the boundary itself. The transfer of wise personal conviction from parents and churches to their young people cannot be done with ultimatums laid down with no explanation. This may be suitable as a temporary measure, but only the wisdom behind the conviction will cause it to stand in the next generation. May God give each parent wisdom as we field the questions brought by our children as they attempt to make sense of life in a corrupt culture. May God give us the love, grace, and patience to steadily build wise convictions in our children which will bear fruit throughout their lifetime.

-Lyle Musser

Posted by Kristen on Oct 16th 2014 | Filed in Uncategorized | Comments Off on “Let’s talk about it.”