To the Christian Parents Who Are Depressed About the Future of America

To the Christian Parents Who Are Depressed About the Future of America

I woke up this morning feeling like I had a giant grey cloud over my head.

It was one of those mornings where you wake up and immediately remember something is wrong, but aren’t able to recall exactly what it is for a couple of minutes.

I quickly searched my memory bank for what’s going on with my kids, my parents, my friends, and my work. It wasn’t any of those things. But then I remembered why I went to bed feeling so depressed.

Our country is heading in an absolutely disastrous direction. I’m grieving for my children’s future.

Yeah. Just that.

And not just because of the most recent news headlines. Because of the cumulative news impact over several months now.

If you don’t share a sense of dire concern over our country’s spiritual, moral and political direction, then this post isn’t for you. This is a letter to those who already grieve with me for our children’s future.

 

Dear Friends,

I know how you feel. There are lots of us feeling the same way. You’re not alone. It’s a strangely disorienting mixture of sadness, frustration, anger, and dismay—one that leaves you wanting to pull your hair out or cry, depending on the day and headline.

I fear our country is at a turning point and we will never regain the foundation we had.

My heart hurts thinking about what society will look like for my kids someday.

I’ve found myself feeling the deep weight of this emotional burden lately. For a while, I considered that burden to be a negative thing—something to get rid of. But I’m now convicted that Christians should feel the burden and use that weight as a catalyst for doing something.

Christian parents, especially, are in the position of doing something hugely significant, as we are in a position to influence the next generation—part of the very future you and I are so concerned about. But we will only have the collective impact we desire if we do the necessary things and not just many somethings.

Here are four of those necessary things.

 

First, every one of us must take responsibility for fighting for what we believe and not give up.

When I’m discouraged because I’m on what seems to be the “losing” end of something I’m passionate about, I can become resentful and resort to a defensive silence. Based on the social media posts about news headlines that I’ve been seeing from fellow believers, I don’t think I’m alone. When frustration reigns supreme, it’s easier to throw our hands in the air and effectively declare, “Fine! Are you happy now? You got what you wanted!”

…followed by a whisper of, “and you’re going to see later that I was right.”

…followed by a half-defeated, half-smug retreat.

We can’t do this.

We can’t get smug, and we can’t retreat.

We may or may not be facing a permanent spiritual and moral decline in America. But our actions shouldn’t depend on our society’s likely fate. We have a responsibility to fight for the God-given values we hold to be true…even if we are the last voice in a thousand.

As Christian parents raising the next generation, that fight starts at home, where every single one of us should be working tirelessly to raise kids who will have the knowledge, conviction, and courage to stand up for what is right in the future.

Please don’t let your discouragement turn into resignation.

 

Second, we need to get our priorities straight.

I recently helped a private Christian school do a spiritual survey of parents. We asked questions ranging from how often the parents go to church to what kinds of spiritual development activities they do at home. Using my professional background, I was able to identify the one question that statistically determined how someone would likely answer all other questions in the survey.

It was this:

“To what degree do you agree or disagree with the following statement: It’s important to me that my kids grow up to be Christ-followers.”

Those who answered “Strongly Agree” had completely different responses on the survey compared to those who answered “Somewhat Agree.” Those who only “somewhat agree” go to church far less, read the Bible with their kids and pray far less, and are far less likely to say they are prepared to explain the basics of Christianity to their kids. In addition, zero percent of those who only “somewhat agree” said they could confidently explain to their kids why we have good reason to believe Christianity is true.

On paper, the difference between “strongly agree” and “somewhat agree” might sound minimal.

In reality, the difference says so much.

If you can’t honestly say you strongly agree that it’s important to you that your kids grow up to be Christ-followers, it’s time to examine what you really believe. If you really believe that Jesus is the exclusive savior of the world and that there are eternal implications for whether or not your kids ultimately put their trust in Him, how could you not strongly agree that it’s important they grow up to follow Him?

What could possibly be more important?

Your kids’ sporting events? Their academic success? Making sure they’re “nice” people (whether or not they believe in God)?

As this survey demonstrates, too many Christian parents don’t have their priorities straight. How will we ever collectively impact society when raising our kids to follow Jesus is only “somewhat” important for many self-professed Christians?

If you would answer the question with somewhat agree, I encourage you to really think right now about why you wouldn’t strongly agree. If it’s because you’re not fully convicted of the truth of Christianity, it’s time to sort that out. Christianity is either true or not true. There’s no point in living as if it’s “kind of” true and raising your kids with a half-hearted belief.

If you would answer strongly agree, be sure your actions match your intentions…read on.

 

Third, we need to commit to working harder on our kids’ spiritual development.

Telling busy and overwhelmed parents that they need to work even harder on something is about the least popular message there is. But in a spiritually declining society, it should go without saying that the challenges to faith will be stronger than ever, resulting in the de facto need for parents to do more to keep their kids close to God.

That more means:

  • More time spent becoming aware of the latest headlines and related faith challenges. If we live in a bubble isolated from this knowledge, we won’t be able to address it with our kids.
  • More time spent on personal spiritual development. We have to continually grow in our relationship with the Lord and our understanding of Christianity if we’re going to be in a spiritual and intellectual position to raise firmly rooted Christ-followers.
  • More time intentionally spent on our kids’ spiritual development at home. That means praying together, studying the Bible together, and engaging in the deep conversations about Christianity that are necessary to raise kids with confident faith in a secular world.

 

Fourth, we need to work smarter when it comes to our kids’ spiritual development.

Working harder is necessary but not sufficient. It’s not about simply doing more, but doing more that matters.

For example, let’s say you want to climb a steep mountain over several days. You get really serious about the goal and are ready to work hard toward it. However, you don’t bother to get any specific information about that mountain—you don’t get maps, learn about the elevation change, identify the necessary water sources, or check the temperatures in order to dress accordingly. Instead, you decide to work “hard” based on your own understanding and prepare by running two miles each day. Relative to what you were doing before, that may indeed constitute working harder. But it would be a waste of hard work because it wasn’t the hard work that was needed for the goal at hand.

Similarly, we can spend more time every week doing something spiritual with our kids, but if we aren’t doing the specific things that are critical for helping them remain faithful given the world in which they’re growing up, our efforts can easily be in vain.

You could start reading your kids a Bible story each night. But mom, dad, how do I know this actually happened? Everyone around me says the Bible is a book of fairy tales.

You could tell your kids each day about a way you’ve seen God move in your life. But mom, dad, how do I know God is real if I haven’t experienced that? Everyone around me says there’s no evidence for God.

You could serve the homeless together for Jesus. But mom, dad, my atheist friends are good people too. They want to help the homeless and they say they don’t need God to do that.

You could go outside at night and point to the beautiful sky as God’s amazing creation. But mom, dad, in school I’m learning that God wasn’t needed for any of this – science can explain it without Him.

Friends, there are some very specific conversations we need to have with our kids today and challenges we need to address (in Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith I explain 40 of the most critical). I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t serve the homeless with our kids or read the Bible every night (we should), but I am saying that we can’t just wing our Christian parenting with whatever we happen to think is most important for our kids’ spiritual development.

Specific guidance is necessary, and specific guidance is available.

In my Resources section, I’ve provided a reading plan specifically for parents looking for that guidance.

 

To conclude, I just want to remind all of us (myself included) that God is still in control. This is still His world, and we are still part of His plan. We have to avoid the extreme responses of either resigning to inaction because He’s in control or wallowing in despair because we’ve forgotten He’s in control. We must live out our calling to “train up our kids” and take responsibility for understanding what that means at this point in history.

Regardless of how uncertain this earthly future is, we can always be confident that at the end of time, God wins.

In His love,

Natasha

8 Comments

  1. Crystal Smith on May 6, 2016 at 9:22 AM

    Natasha, you have no idea how timely this post is for me. I live in North Carolina (need I say more) and have been absolutely devastated by the backlash of negativity aimed at my State and at the direction our country is heading in general. I, too, am in despair when I think about the society my daughter will experience when she grows up. Thank you for the reminder that we are responsible and empowered to make changes both in our nation and in developing Christ-following children. May Jesus bless you!



  2. Steve on May 6, 2016 at 10:07 AM

    Thanks Natasha!

    Two minutes before reading this, I saw this question: “how many of you guy’s & ladies knew their parents well enough to say definitively that you would know what they would say about morals & current issues involving our country?”

    My response was immediate as I didn’t have to think about it at all. “Absolutely! We used to talk about it all the time till the end. They were not pushy, but also not shy with expressing their knowledge, opinions, or reasoning… when it was appropriate, with love, and with the wisdom to not force decisions on me.”

    We may or may not be headed into a moral abyss and our country may be headed for a crisis of various facets. But we have multiple generations right now who do understand and do have knowledge and God’s wisdom. My parents had 157 cumulative years to gain knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual understanding. My wife and I have had 116 thus far. Those are tremendous resources that we can offer our children and grandchildren just as our parents did for us. And this is how knowledge and wisdom do not die with each generation.

    We do not have to accept the world’s view of morality and it is not a requirement that we teach it or justify it to our children. Christians in many nations have lived through far worse than we will even potentially see in this generation. We must prepare our children and grandchildren, and in that, we will find victory over any direction our culture may be headed. But of course this option is only available to those who have first educated themselves, sought reason and wisdom, and only available to those who have the determination that their children and grandchildren will know God.



  3. Ofa M. on May 6, 2016 at 10:35 AM

    Thank you for your encouraging words. Just this week as our family was discussing current political events I breathed a heavy sigh of defeat (which I’m sure was worth a 1000 words) and said to them (in jest, but depressingly) “I’m moving to Canada.” It is so depressing. But you are so right; we cannot retreat and give up. God is going to win the war in the end. He is in control. We can be part of the rejoicing when it is over if we are engaged willingly and effort-fully NOW in the multiple battles that make up that war. Thank you for your christian mom thoughts and testimony, a much needed encouraging voice in our discouraging day and age.



  4. Ofa M. on May 6, 2016 at 10:42 AM

    Oh, and by the way… Your book just arrived yesterday and I’m going to spend the rainy weekend devouring it!!



  5. Gini Walker on May 6, 2016 at 12:37 PM

    Natasha,
    I am a 70 year old grand mother of two amazing and beautiful grand children, (7) and (4). This morning an incredible urgency came over me regarding their future. There is a good chance that by the time they are teenagers I will be gone. I felt a strong sense of panic. What could I leave for them to know about God and His Word and His son Jesus? So, I made a lovely “faith box” for them. Here are the contents: My Bible (the one I use for personal worship and study, marked up with favorite passages and comments, your book Keeping Your Kids On God’s Side (also marked with my underlining and comments), the prayer guide I used in praying for them, “21 Names of God” pamphlet for their personal worship, a copy of my “faith journey story” and a personal letter to each of them. I included your book because of your list of so many of the ??? non believers will undoubtedly ask them and your answers to guide their deeper understanding of why they believe what they believe. I know this is focused on the future. But, I’m also committed to conversations, reading, etc NOW. I pray for them to be held in God’s hands and His protection from evil. But, I believe parents and grands have been given an awesome task and gift of sharing the truth of God with our children. Bless you as you encourage and guide parents in this.



  6. Trish on May 7, 2016 at 9:06 AM

    Natasha I love this post so much!!!! I have been feeling this weight also and couldn’t put my finger on it….. yet you have beautifully articulated the chaos in my mind! I love that you have called us to DO something not just sit in paralyzed fear and anxiety. Over the last year I studied the book of Revelation in depth with BSF (a worldwide multi denominational Bible study fellowship and this is a good time to read and study this book of the bible…. to know God is in control and no matter what He wins! But also to give us continual hope and also to call us to action NOW! In Canada we will be (and so will the whole world) impacted by what happens with the politics there…. we have our own concerns and challenges with federal and provincial laws being passed that go against biblical teaching and affect our children and our families. These are pressing times to stand strong and firm in the bible and Jesus’ teachings…. but first we must Know our bibles and intimately know and study the character of our creator and Lord and Saviour. Thanks for your insightful and always challenging articles. I just love this blog!



  7. Cheri Fields on May 14, 2016 at 9:24 AM

    Thank you for being a personal coach for us! As you point out, life keeps trying to fill us with busyness and ‘good’ stuff until the best is crowded out. Voices like yours help us reconsider our long term goals and *do* something about it.
    BTW I’ve felt your terror for the future as well and recently ran into a history lesson to help ease my fears. This isn’t the first time things have looked so dire- even in America, but enough Believers didn’t give up: the Communio Sanctorum podcast http://www.sanctorum.us/135-a-second-awakening/



  8. Mikael Holopainen on June 20, 2016 at 11:44 AM

    Hi Natasha, it’s an equally apt post for us in the UK and Europe. Thank you for your contribution. Keep fighting the good fight.
    Mikael