Friday, October 21, 2011

Shepherding My Son Through Bullying

I have probably heard more about bullying in the past year than, well, probably ever. For some reason, this is a hot-button issue for our generation. And for good reason. Kids can be just downright rude and mean to each other.

So, the other day, my oldest son, was struggling with going to school. I thought it was maybe because of the big math test he had (who hasn't been there), but it was because of some kid at school calling him names. On one hand, it was nothing more than what kids do. But on the other hand, this was my son, the other kids language was completely inappropriate, and my son was hurting. He has struggled making friends and this just added to it.

As a parent, I was proud that he just walked away from the situation. But is that enough? What should he do when someone calls him names or when something bad happens to him? What is a parent to say to their child when something like this happens? I can tell you, the natural desire is to go straight into the classroom and give kids and the teacher a piece of your mind, but obviously, that is not going to help. So what can we do?

The only thing I can do is to pray for my son and bring the Word of God to speak truth into his life. I used this opportunity as a good point of reference to talk about the gospel with my son. It is my responsibility as his parent to bring the Bible to bear upon his life. So, I took him out to dinner (Wendy's, there's not many places to go around here). And we talked and I read some Scripture to him and asked him several questions from the text that I read to him.
"For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin, and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." (1 Peter 2:19-25)
These are the questions I asked him?

  • Do you want to please God in how you respond to hurtful things? (vs. 19 & 20 say that it is a gracious thing, meaning that God is pleased . . .)
  • Did you deserve what happened to you? (vs. 20 says that if you suffer for sinning, you are deserving it and it is no credit to you to endure justly)
  • Do you have any desire to follow Jesus? (vs. 21 says that the believer in Jesus has been called to follow in His footsteps, and He has given us examples of how to respond.)
  • How did Jesus respond to unjust treatment? (vs. 22 & 23 says that he did not respond in kind. Romans 12 says that we should kill them with kindness)
  • Are you willing to trust the ultimately fair Judge? (vs. 23 says that God will be the One who will be judge justly someday)
  • Do you remember what Jesus did for your sins? (vs. 24 & 25 remind us that Jesus died for our sins, not just the unjust things that other people do to us).

We had a great time talking about the gospel in his life. It is my prayer that God uses things like this to draw my son to Himself. And I want him to remember that Jesus is a better friend than any person he could meet at Berkshire Elementary. That is a hard concept for a 37 year old to grasp, let alone an 11 year old. But I'm praying that he gets it someday.

Question: What Would You Say To Your Children?

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