by Aimee Anderson
In my last blog, we looked at the importance of helping our kids truly find their identity in Christ. When we understand the unconditional love, acceptance, value and peace we have with God as his children, we can navigate the issues of life with more stability. We can live in a healthier place mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. In order to help our kids, we first must examine our own hearts to ensure that our identity is found in Christ. Then we must learn to communicate what that looks like to them. However, we can’t just tell them. We must demonstrate it in our daily lives. This is especially true as it relates to this generation, Gen Z. They desire more than talk. They want to understand the whys behind our beliefs and to see that our faith is bearing fruit in us. They want authenticity.
Gen Z has no knowledge of life without technology and is more aware of the world around them than we were at their age. Gen Zer and researcher, Josh Miller, explains that his generation has been impacted by terrorism, school shootings, and the Great Recession. “To Gen Z, disruption is the norm. We’ve been exposed to global flaws and issues our entire lives, giving us the ability to understand the problems that need to be solved. We’re also skeptical, challenging preconceived notions about how the world should work.” He goes on to add that such an understanding and skepticism leads to innovation and new ideas. (Miller & Sladek, 2018). This generation will stand with a cause and push for change on issues that are important to them.
As Christians, the challenge is to teach our kids so that the influence of the increasingly secular, anti-Christian culture doesn’t blind them or turn them from the unchanging Gospel. We want to experience the great joy of our children walking in the truth (3 John 1:4). Deuteronomy 6 gives instructions to talk about God’s commandments and promises with future generations. If we stop with talk, we fail to grasp the essence of this mandate. Throughout the chapter, the people were also told to obey the commands God gave them.
God in his infinite wisdom knew there would be generations who did not directly experience the deliverance from Egypt. Verse 20 states, “In the future, when your son asks you, ‘What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?’ Tell him…” What follows is an account of the power and faithfulness God displayed while bringing His people out of captivity. I imagine those explanations from previous generations weren’t empty recitations, but full of passion, raw emotion, and deep gratitude. It was real to them because they experienced it. When our kids ask why we want them follow Christ, do we have experiential knowledge to share with them?
Do our kids see the joy of the Lord in our lives? Is there mainly anxiety, or do they see peace come in the time of the storm? Is the Holy Spirit present in us as we relate to others, or are we full of anger and strife? Are we the hands and feet of Jesus, or is our relationship with him in name only? Are we willing to talk? Are we open to listening? Can we speak with truth and love when we disagree?
Is Jesus making a difference in our words, attitudes, and actions? That’s what this generation wants to know. Jesus engaged people in conversations filled with truth, authority, and genuineness, all while meeting real needs. Those people were so changed by those encounters that they left everything and followed him. Let us live in such a way that we lead this generation with more than words.