Do everything…so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe. Philippians 2:14-15.
The kids jumped up from their chairs, held hands and bounced with anticipation, a scene right off the finals of American Idol, X-Factor, or a beauty pageant. But this was not a TV competition; it was the audition and selection process for the children’s musical at our church.
The fifth and sixth graders had spontaneously jumped out of their chairs when we started to announce the cast assignments. It never dawned on me that kids in my church would behave as if we were awarding a million dollar prize to the one chosen to play the lead in the Christmas play.
I was shocked. I was angry. I was naive.
I stopped the process. As the director of the play I felt compelled to go about this differently. I told the kids as pleasantly as I could, “This is not a contest. I’d like to pray, and would like you each to pray this week about what we’re here to do. I’m going to rethink how to let you know the role we have chosen for you. Please keep in mind that we have the privilege in this Christmas musical of using our talents to communicate the Gospel story in a compelling way to our audience. Being the kind of stars that point to Jesus is what this play is about.” I roughly quoted the verse in Philippians 2:3-4, “‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others, and don’t look to your own interests but to the interests of the others.’ It is this kind of attitude that we are interested in mentoring.” We prayed and dismissed the kids, letting their parents know we’d be in touch with them during the week about roles.
That week I telephoned the lead roles we had assigned so that I could interview and then encourage them about the importance of humbly using our talents to glorify God. I prayed with each one, and we went on to prepare an amazing presentation of Annette Oden’s “Christmas Star.” See our favorite clip from that presentation here.
I have since learned that a recent study of the most viewed TV shows by pre-teen children (at a critical age for adopting life-long values) reveals that the number one value promoted in these shows today is fame. Since the dawn of “Idol” and “Hannah Montana,” the top values represented in shows targeting school-aged kids have changed dramatically. Where just 15 years ago the primary values were community feeling and benevolence, now the primary values are fame and achievement.
In the new age of Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter, the attention given to kids is now measurable for all to see. The kids tend to gain and measure their sense of significance or value based not on what God says about them, but based on how many “friends,” followers, views, tweets, votes or texts they get. In other words, if you want to matter, get noticed. Be famous. It’s the culture in which our children are immersed. And even “good kids” active in church programs have bought into it.
If we are serious about raising kids who follow after the heart of God … so that (they) may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which (they) shine like stars in the universe (see Phil 2:15)…we have much work to do to confront this powerful emerging value system. To combat it we need to help our kids understand that their talents and relationships are given to them not so they can be noticed, but so that they can use them to bless others; to point to Jesus. We must provide opportunities for them to be a blessing. Then, if they do end up in the light of fame they will reflect that light to Christ
Please share below what you have done to help your kids’ talents be used to bless others; to be a star that points to Jesus?
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