Have you ever seen or read something that completely sums up all that you hope your kids will become someday?
I ran across the picture above on social media last week and couldn’t get it out of my mind. I kept going back to look at the image of this sweet boy standing by himself, praying at his school’s “See You At The Pole” Day, wondering why I couldn’t shake it.
And then it hit me why I was so impacted: If my three kids can walk away with that kind of character and conviction at the end of their eighteen years in our home, Mike and I will have done our job well, by the grace of God.
I’m guessing many of you feel the same way. Here are a few thoughts for those of us trying to raise kids to stand alone.
Standing Alone Takes Courage
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).
Our kids will need a strong dose of courage to stand alone in the hard places.
- It takes courage to stand up when everyone else is just standing by.
- It takes courage to include the excluded, allowing no one to be left behind on your watch.
- It takes courage to walk away from the inappropriate images everyone is sharing.
- It takes courage to say no when it’s more popular to say yes.
- It takes courage to stay home because going might lead to compromise.
But our kids are not the only ones who will need courage for them to stand alone.
As parents, we are going to have to be okay with it too. (Actually, we will have to be more than okay with it.)
It’s going to take some God-given discipline to stop bridging the gaps when things aren’t easy for our kids—to let them stand in the hard places, purposely holding ourselves back when everything we’ve got wants to jump in and make their road easier.
Letting them stand alone will look different for each of us, but it may look like having the restraint to leave them on the team, stay quiet when they are excluded from the group, stand by when they are misunderstood, and trust their judgment when you think you have a better way.
Standing alone takes courage that only Jesus can give. Let’s not take the opportunity away from them but instead join them in being strong and trusting in the Lord.
Model why it matters
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? You are the light of the world. . . . A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:13–14).
I wish I would have been strong enough to stand alone in high school. I wish I could go back and tell my sixteen-year-old self that the need to be accepted will lead to compromise. That popularity comes at a price, mostly at the expense of loving others well and living strong in our faith. I missed it more than I got it right.
I’m praying my kids do better.
Explain why it matters
The why behind the need to stand alone doesn’t require big theological words. Simply put, we’re the salt of the earth and called to let our light shine.
Following Jesus, especially in today’s culture, is not going to happen if we follow the masses and blend in with the crowd. We’re holy, set apart, sanctified, chosen, and on a great mission for Jesus.
Living out the great plans of our Savior will inherently require us to separate from the pack and stand alone at times.
Show what it looks like
Where do we need to start standing alone?
What does that look like as adults to metaphorically “stand at the pole” by ourselves?
- Do we need to decline Happy Hour, knowing it often gets out of hand?
- Do we skip the girls’ night because the conversations get toxic?
- Do we refuse to allow racially divisive comments to go unchecked?
- Are we steadfast in missing out on greater profits because we don’t take ethical shortcuts?
Stand-alone opportunities show up all throughout our lives. It just comes down to whether we seize them. What a gift if we can help our kids get comfortable standing alone while they are still under our roof.
The mom of the young man in the photo explains it like this: “My son says at first, he thought he would simply pray until someone else came along. Eventually, he realized no one else was coming. Then, the cry of his heart changed. He asked that God would do something with his standing alone.”
Start praying today for kids who can stand alone and then ask God to do something big with it when they do it.