Guest post by Janel Breitenstein
For the last year, my 12-year-old daughter has revealed her dream to become a movie director, or at least a screenwriter.
I admit raising my mental eyebrows a bit at this one, for the sheer sake of the competition for jobs like this.
There’s gotta be, what? 3 million kids who’d love to be movie directors right now.
And maybe there are, what? 6.7 movie director jobs out there?
But either way. Even if that’s notthe job God has for her, she’s starting where she’s at. (And we desperately need Christians in the arts.)
This summer, she’s saved up enough babysitting money to buy a decent camera. She’s writing several times a week for a girls-only website. She checked out Digital Filmmaking for Kidsfrom the Dummies series, downloaded Magisto on my phone. I just ordered a bunch of used books to help her learn.
I tell you this because as exciting as her dream is, she’s not ready. She has to start somewhere, just like all of us do.
As I noodle on this: There are moral parallels to this in our parenting.
A pastor told me once that in Abraham’s big moment of faith—to the point of a willingness to sacrifice his own son (and give the world a huge clue to God’s future sacrifice of Jesus)—Abraham didn’t likely start there.
It’s more likely God was “raising” Abraham in faith,showing Abraham over and over again that he could lean into God.
It’s like that rappelling rope you lean into a little at a time, till you’re abseiling down a waterfall.
Compassion begins with Helping Kids See
So it’s going to be similar in training our kids to live lives serving the least of these.
I know well the new-school-year lunacy. You’re purchasing 13 new notebooks (only to discover you got the wrong kind of notebooks), buying baby carrots in packs of 1000, and signing enough paperwork that you really should own a new home right now.
But I keep reminding myself there are other ways I want my kids to kick off this year.
Yes, sometimes compassion is jumpstarted, and should be, with a life-altering trip to Africa.
But in the event that’s not on your calendar this year?
Consider asking these questions over the course of a few days.
- Who are kids who are different from everybody else in your class?
- Are there kids who get in trouble a lot?
- Who are kids in your school that don’t really have friends, or maybe who other kids make fun of? Why do you think that is?
- What do you think it might be like to be that kid?
- What’s one thing you could do to help them feel more included, and stand up for them a little?
- Thinking about our school or town, what groups of people might feel left out, or might not have what they need?
- Are there kids you know who aren’t Americans, or who don’t look like everybody else? What do you think it’s like to be them?
- Is there anything you could do to make them feel more included?
- What’s one thing our family could do that would help?
- When we’re shopping or going around, who are the people other people don’t pay much attention to?
- Are there easy ways we could help those people see Jesus?
- At your school, do you think there are kids or jobs (like the janitors) that people don’t pay attention to?
- Do you know their names? (Kids might find that saying “Thanks for your work!” goes a really long way.)
- Who can we pray for from your school right now—especially kids who might be feeling left out, having a hard time, or not the kids who are the smartest or best-behaved?