Good has to be gleaned and shared from even the most frustrating and despairing of situations.
Otherwise, we can miss God.
We are living in a time where there is so much mudslinging in political battlegrounds, on TV shows, in our neighborhoods, on our streets… everywhere. It can feel like a non-stop barrage of negativity and criticism.
And it’s easy to get dragged into it. Willingly. Or unwillingly.
Perhaps instead of remaining entrenched in mud, we need to climb out of the muck and begin to raise all of our children – the kiddos in our homes and in our communities alike – into becoming leaders who are different from the ones we usually see emblazoned across TV screens, news feeds, and sometimes in our families and workplaces and neighborhoods.
It is time to stop just looking at the problems. It is time to start finding solutions.
So that we don’t repeat the present or the past in the future.
Many of us are trying to make sense of the mess that we are wading through. And many of us are trying so hard to do something about it in our own lives and in the lives of our children.
Because we desperately need to raise children into adults and leaders who embody and uphold God in all that they do, say, and think. And even for those who are not interested in God or in religion, it is still beyond time to build men and women of good character and strong moral behavior, for the good of us all.
Because every child in every community will most likely, and hopefully, become an adult one day. And we, as adults, are living examples for them. For every kid, not just the ones in our own homes.
What type of future country do they need us to help them build now?
What type of leaders do they need to be for their families, their communities, their country, their world?
Let’s grow up leaders of honesty.
Sometimes it seems like honesty is one of those traits that easily gets lost in the translation or checked at the door in the myriad of ways little white lies and big bold deceit too quickly entangle their twisty ways into our thoughts and words and even actions.
I grew up with a variety of very mixed messages. Not necessarily about the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus, but about love and faith and trust and important things. Now as an adult, it has become an extremely difficult task to separate fact from fiction, especially when the mixed messages still come from family and friends. It is still a daily struggle.
And I vowed to be honest, even brutally honest with my own kids. Truthfulness also builds trust.
I may not share every specific detail of all of the ugliness of life or of relationships with them, but they certainly know a kid-appropriate version of reality. The good. The bad. The ugly. They know that they can ask questions and get straight answers. And they know that they can tell me the honest, good-bad-or-ugly truth.
Because they know that it’s far better to tell an ugly truth than a pretty lie.
And they know that they will always be loved anyway, no matter what the good-bad-or-ugly truth is. And loving anyway builds trust.
But we live in a society where honesty is too often devalued, where truth-tellers are exalted and abhorred simultaneously, where it’s easier to tell a lie first, and then try to cover it up. Which usually only keeps heaping lie upon lie until there is absolutely no way out of the dung pile.
Isaiah 59:12-15 is quite clear about this. When lies and deceit become the gifts we give, rather than truth and honesty, we are encouraging and permitting rebellion and oppression to be our offerings to the world in place of justice and righteousness.
“For our offenses are many in your sight,
and our sins testify against us.
Our offenses are ever with us,
and we acknowledge our iniquities:
rebellion and treachery against the Lord,
turning our backs on our God,
inciting revolt and oppression,
uttering lies our hearts have conceived.
So justice is driven back,
and righteousness stands at a distance;
truth has stumbled in the streets,
honesty cannot enter.
Truth is nowhere to be found,
and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.“
That verse is powerful – “So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter (Isaiah 59:14).
How did we miss the cause-and-effect relationship of our collective behaviors that pull us farther away from God, from His goodness, instead igniting fires of revolt rather than righteousness as the consequence of dishonesty?
When did we allow honesty to lose its value to us as individuals or as a society?
Wouldn’t the ugly truth be better than the pretty lies? Wouldn’t we be more likely to trust someone who tells the ugly truth (all of it) more than we would trust a pretty liar whose lies turn to stink oh-so-quickly?
What is it that God desires of our hearts, our minds, our actions, and our words?
It’s not easy, but it’s necessary.
Let us work diligently to reclaim honesty for our children and with our children.
Let us raise them up as leaders in truth and righteousness, honesty and justice.
There will be a new conversation each day this week about raising up our own kids and the kids in our communities into Christ-like leaders. Stay tuned for more!