Big Idea: Through a desire to give better than we received, we unwittingly create a culture of ease and safety for our children precisely when things are actually getting much harder. We can equip the next generation to resiliently face the challenges of our times by helping them grow in their experience of God in and through difficult circumstances.
I. Understanding our times
A. Summary of Biblical teaching
1. Things will get worse. (II Timothy 3:1, II Peter 3:3, I Timothy 4:7b-8)
2. Suffering is normal. (II Timothy 3:12-13)
3. Growth is incremental. (John 16:12-13a, II Corinthians 3:18)
4. Testing is a crucial part of growth. (II Corinthians 2:9, 13:5, II Thessalonians 2:4, I Timothy 3:10, Revelation 2:10)
B. The greatest challenges are in youth culture.
II. Understanding our tendencies
A. We want it to be easier for our kids than we had it.
B. With hard questions, we have adopted a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
III. Leading with a vision
A. Settle in your heart whether you really believe that “God’s got this.” Lean into spiritual testing and training.
B. Let your children do hard things.
C. Create a culture of stretching.
D. Create an environment of willingness to figure things out together.
1) Is the world really getting a lot worse or are we just noticing it more? Is this an objective reality or our subjective experience? How do you understand the idea of “last days” (II Timothy 3:1)? When are the last days? Why would the Bible predict that things will get worse before they get better?
2) Would you agree with the statement that most growth is incremental? Why or why not? How have your experienced physical, emotional, or spiritual growth In your own life? Is it strictly linear, or are there some periods of more intense growth? Can you fall into patterns of stagnation?
3) Why would God test us? How do you react to the idea that God tests us? What does testing and training do in our lives? Can you experience growth without these things?
4) Have you noticed how rapidly public opinion is changing on crucial moral issues? What is driving that change? Have you noticed that the next generation doesn’t accept some of the same basic ideas that the retiring generation does? What implication do these trends have on intergenerational faith formation?
5) Would you agree that most parents want their children to have it better and easier than they did? Would you agree that adversity often produces growth more than comfort does? If you agree with both of these statements, how do these ideas interact? What are the implications of our dominant parenting tendencies?
6) Have you seen the importance of grit in your own life experience? Where it’s not a matter of how much you know but rather how long you are willing to keep at something? How would you rate the grit of different generations – the depression and WWII generation (the “silent generation”), Boomers, Busters, Gen X, and Millennials? Are there any longitudinal trends in grit? If so, what are they?
7) Are you willing to take risks that you wouldn’t want your kids taking? Why or why not? Can children develop resilience and grit in comfort? Is there any connection between the physical discipline of exercise and emotional or spiritual resilience? If so, what implications does child obesity have on this question of resilient children?
8) Are you prepared to take risks and steps of faith for your children? Have you ever had an abstract or hypothetical sense of trust that disappeared when it was put to the test? How do we avoid that in our spiritual lives?
9) What actual concrete steps of faith are you prepared to take with your family? Are you actively contributing to a culture where failure is ok and a normal part of healthy growth? Are you willing to roll up your sleeves with the next generation and ask the hard questions? How are you living out that commitment right now? If you aren’t, what changes can you make?