How Iron Man can teach kids to guard their hearts

Published on May 06, 2022

One critical biblical life lesson that every parent should want their child to learn involves the popular sentiment that you should “follow your heart.” 

The culture believes that you can only achieve true happiness by being “true to yourself” and following your heart’s desire. This idea is pushed everywhere in our culture, especially on social media.

We must show our children why chasing this idea is a recipe for disaster. Our hearts are “deceitful and wicked” as Jeremiah put it (Jeremiah 17:9), and we can see this all around us. Just think about the absolute devastation that adultery, drug addiction, and pornography obsession, as just some examples, have brought into the lives of people who began down those roads by simply “following their hearts.” 

Guard, not follow

But how can you get your teenagers to realize this without you getting all preachy? That’s easy. Watch the right movies with them. 

Iron Man is a good place to start. Tony Stark (Iron Man) pursues everything his heart desires—wealth, women, wine, works, and wisdom—because he thinks those things will make him happy. 

But after he gets all that, he’s still empty inside. “I build neat stuff, got a great girl, occasionally save the world. So why can’t I sleep?” Tony complains. Yeah, why is that? 

Ask your kids, “Why isn’t Tony Stark happy? Why isn’t he fulfilled?” Because Tony makes the same mistakes King Solomon made three thousand years ago—he’s pursuing everything his heart desires without moral restraint. 

This left Solomon empty and brought tremendous pain and suffering into his life. That’s why Solomon implored readers of his proverbs to obey his warning: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). 

Above all else! Notice he didn’t say follow your heart; he said guard your heart. By “heart,” Solomon didn’t mean the organ in your chest that pumps blood. Instead he was referring to the ruling center of your life. 

What does it mean to guard your heart? 

You must guard what you dwell on, guard your emotions, and guard your desires, because your heart will determine the direction and desired outcome of your life. 

Your heart can change over time, or it can change in an instant. And your heart often wants things it shouldn’t have, at least not when your heart wants them. 

That’s why impulse control and the ability to delay gratification are necessary for any success. If you’re not disciplined, you can easily be lured off the right path by the temptations that cross your path each day. 

You must guard your heart by shunning evil and consciously directing yourself toward good. If you don’t, your nature—which is bent toward evil and selfishness—will eventually lead you and others into destruction. 

Iron Man provides a great visual of this because he has a device implanted in his chest that is literally guarding his heart from encroaching shrapnel, which ironically came from one of his own missiles. 

Tony’s own heart decisions—like blindly selling missiles to people who turn out to be terrorists—nearly led to his own death. He also has heart-motivated bouts with alcohol and ego that nearly do him in as well. 

Things begin to improve only after he grows enough to realize that blindly following his heart has led to his emptiness. It’s then, and only then, that Tony finds a purpose worth living (and dying) for. 

Pleasure vs. happiness 

Like Tony Stark, today’s young people often think that if they just follow their hearts they’ll be happy. For them, they believe if they can only become popular on social media, or if they can get the right recognition through their sexual identity or relationships, that the emptiness they feel inside will vanish. 

No wonder they feel despondent when they discover, like Tony Stark, that following your heart doesn’t ultimately satisfy. You may get temporary pleasure but not lasting happiness. 

Recognizing there’s a big difference between pleasure and happiness is one key to guarding your heart. It will help you avoid trading long-term happiness for short-term pleasure. 

Life is not about getting the most stuff or experiencing the most pleasure. If it were, Americans would be the happiest people in the world. But we’re not. We are among the world leaders in drug use, suicide, and divorce—all indicators of unhappiness. 

Like the Tony Stark of the early Marvel movies, we have everything to live with but nothing to live for. 

Augustine famously said, “Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in God.” Nothing in this world will fill the God-sized hole in our hearts. But we keep trying to find something. 

How Iron Man can teach kids to guard their hearts Imagine if there were a fun way to raise your kids’ interest in Christianity while imparting some of the most important lessons every Christian parent wants their children to learn. 

Hollywood Heroes: How Your Favorite Movies Reveal God shows how your favorite movie heroes are patterned after the ultimate hero—Jesus of Nazareth—and how the stories we see played out on the big screen parallel the real-world fight between good and evil. You’ll see how this is especially true in the superhero movie franchises—Captain America, Iron Man, Batman, Wonder Woman and others such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and even the controversial Harry Potter. Christ figures and sacrificial storylines impart inspiring and biblical life lessons on justice, purpose, courage, strength, sacrifice, faith, and love. This book is a great resource for sparking meaningful conversations with other movie fans at any age. 


Consider a few extra resources:

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Frank and Zach Turek

Dr. Frank Turek is a speaker and award-winning author or coauthor of several books, including I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist and his latest, Hollywood Heroes (releasing from NavPress in April 2022). He hosts a weekly TV program broadcast to 32 million homes and an apologetics podcast on over 180 stations. Frank speaks over 100 times per year, often to youth and college students, and has debated several prominent atheists, including Christopher Hitchens, Michael Shermer, and David Silverman. He is the founder and president of

Frank Zachary Turek earned his master’s degree in philosophy from Southern Evangelical Seminary. His upcoming book, Hollywood Heroes, coauthored by his father, Frank Turek, releases from NavPress in April 2022.

Read more about Frank and Zach

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