Maybe you’ve heard them on Oprah. Perhaps they were thrown into that graduation speech last June. It could be that you’ve even said them yourself — statements that can have a negative impact, especially when we say them to kids. Although they might seem innocent and even inspiring, they can be destructive frameworks for how we, and kids, view God and others. I love to have fun, but no joke here. These are dangerous phrases that so many Christians believe. Here is the second one in this three-part series:
“Be True To Yourself.”
I’m really not sure what this means. I think that when it’s blurted from the stage of many speech-givers that it simply means, “Don’t let anyone else tell you what to do.” It might possibly mean, “Don’t bow down to peer pressure.” Though it may seem like this is wise advice, we have to break this misguided directive down. Through my years in working with kids, I’ve heard kid leaders and parents alike say this phrase and similar derivatives. In one scenario, I overheard one of my fifth grade girl leaders giving her crew this advice. (We talked afterwards.)
Although it’s similar to “follow your heart,” it goes further in assuming that what we want is already best for ourselves. In other words, the “self” is flawed from the get-go. While I do embrace the idea that every kid (and adult) should question the flow of the crowd and not bow down to peer pressure, I would not assume that the crowd is going in the wrong direction. The point is, neither the crowd nor “self” offer the proper gauge.
Quite simply, tell kids to be true to Jesus. Implore your leaders to teach their kids to get to know Jesus and follow His calling on their lives. Even once their hearts belong to Him, they may wrestle with human nature and the true “self,” which is flesh. Show them who Jesus is and tell them to follow Him and only Him.
Jeffrey Reed serves as the Director of Kids Ministry for LifeWay. He came to LifeWay with a wide variety of ministry experiences including worship leader, director of children’s ministry, and executive leadership in several growing congregations. Jeffrey’s posts will give your heart and brain a workout, just like the fitness Boot Camp he leads in the mornings for LifeWay employees. Jeffrey and his wife Katherine have 4 kids.