I told my son the story of what happened to me in ninth grade. There was a particularly awkward and painfully shy boy in my P.E. class who was often the target of merciless teasing, bordering on harassment.
I didn't participate, but like many of the other students, I got used to standing by and seeing it happen.
One day, things went too far. One thug in the class started pushing this boy, then for no apparent reason except for sheer cruelty, he punched the boy in the nose. Before anyone knew what was happening, blood came gushing out this boy's nose. Everyone scattered.
Even today I can hear the question the principal asked me later that day as I sat in his office explaining what happened: "Why didn't you do something to stop it?"
That question, of course, changed what I did in every circumstance from that day forward. And it serves as a great picture for my son, when I ask him, "What would you do?"
Why do we act on behalf of the neglected, outcast and wounded? Because God does. And He calls us to do the same.
To revisit the story of the Good Samaritan, do you remember what the young man's question was? "Who is my neighbor?" As was often the case, Jesus didn't answer the man's question, but rather dealt with the underlying issue. Instead, Jesus told him what a good neighbor is. Then, in effect, he said, "Go and be a good neighbor to everyone you meet who is neglected, outcast, or wounded."
Engage your son or daughter about what he or she sees and experiences at school. Rehearse what standing up for a person who is the target of teasing might look like. Help your teen to consider what it might cost to stand up, then to be prepared to pay that price on behalf of this person.
Last Christmas, as a family, we pooled some of the money we had set aside for presents and used it to impact others.
Samaritan's Purse Ministry gave us the opportunity to purchase practical presents like a chicken, or a goat, or a month of education for a child. Or, for a few hundred dollars, we could purchase a child slave out of slavery in a third world country, and give him or her a chance for freedom.
What a powerful experience it was for our family to sacrifice a little bit to have a role in setting a child free from slavery!
From this experience, my family engaged in discussions about God's character and heart to set us free.
Imparting a Christian worldview is, at the core, about getting to know God better. As you journey with your teen learning to live a selfless life, if you make the target knowing God, you will be better able to see the world as God does.
Copyright 2005 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.