Posted by: Mike Willoughby | December 21, 2010

Safe and Secure

This time of year with so many folks traveling to holiday destinations, you naturally hear more prayers that include the request that God deliver all the travelers to their destinations and back home again safely and securely.  I’m not suggesting there is anything wrong with such prayers.  My family will be traveling to visit family in Nebraska after Christmas and I certainly pray that God will grant us safe travel.  However, the topic of safety has been such a recurring theme over the past few weeks that it caused me to stop and think.  Has our preoccupation with safety and security become an unhealthy obsession that interferes with living the kind of life Jesus had in mind for us?  After all in John 10:10, Jesus tells his disciples he “came that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Can we have life to the full and also be obsessed with safety and security?

Over the past six weeks or so, James Waugh has been bringing our congregation a series of lessons on Wednesday evenings about the current generation of kids known as the iY Generation.  James pointed out in a recent lesson that some of the characteristics of this generation are a direct result of my generation’s parenting style.  We have been called “helicopter parents” because to we tend to swoop into situations that we believe threaten the safety and security of our children.  I’m not talking about situations that are a serious threat to life and limb but even situations that could affect my child’s self-esteem or carry ramifications such as disciplinary action from a school official, coach or referee.  In some cases we have become so obsessed with protecting our kids from all harm however insignificant that we actually prevent them from learning vital life lessons about making bad decisions, responding to failure and learning from discipline.  In the process we are raising a generation of children that are called the “bubble wrap kids” referring to the cocoon of artificial safety in which we have tried to encase our children.  I believe we may have unintentionally lowered our expectations of our children which results in their low expectations for themselves.  That doesn’t sound like life in the full to me!  That sounds like suffocation.  

A few weeks ago, one of our high school young men brought our congregation a lesson during our Sunday evening service.  Josh Ferguson had been reading a book titled, Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations.  Josh shared with us how this book had challenged him to step out of his comfort zone and face his insecurity about public speaking.  Teenage Josh stood up in front of 300 adults and told us that we should not let insecurity and fear keep us from responding to opportunity.  Sure, mission trips and central city outreach may create uncomfortable or even dangerous situations for me.  The thought of testifying to friends or strangers about the amazing things Jesus has done in my life may cause me anxiety.  Preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a live audience may strike fear in my heart.  Josh said, “get over it!”  Josh admitted that he was way outside his own comfort zone standing in front of us.  However after reading his Do Hard Things book, but he had made a commitment to himself to try to say, “Yes” to opportunities to share his faith and serve others.  When asked to give a Sunday evening lesson during our December “youth-led” service, Josh could not say, “No.”  Way to go, Josh!

 Whenever I am tempted to retreat into my comfort zone and take the secure and easy way out in the face of opportunity to humble myself and serve others, I think of Paul’s challenging words in Philippians 2:5-8:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Jesus lived in the ultimate comfort zone in perfect communion with the Father and the Spirit in Heaven.  Rather than stay in that comfort zone, He chose willingly to step down to a human existence that was destined to be dangerous, uncomfortable, thoroughly unpleasant and finally deadly.  He stepped out of His comfort zone to save me.

This week, the world stops to celebrate His decision to step down into humanity – God Himself deciding to be born into the humblest of conditions as a helpless little baby in a barn with only a feeding trough for a crib.  We delight in the sanitized nativity scenes with the magi delivering rich tokens to the child Messiah and we forget that the City of David had no room for the King of Kings and the royal birth announcement went out only to poor smelly shepherds in the hills.  In the end, the world had no room for the King of Kings and we decided to put our Lord on the cross.  He knew that was the inevitable result of His decision to step down out of the safety and security of His heavenly home.  He stepped down for you and me.  That is the real Christmas story!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
   and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
   in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
   to the glory of God the Father.

My prayer for each of us is that God will keep us physically safe and secure during this holiday season.  However, I also pray that He will challenge us to step out of our comfort zones and respond to opportunities to humble ourselves and serve others even when it threatens our safety and security.  No bubble wrap for us! 

Especially in this season of hope and goodwill, let us strive to in our relationships with one another to have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!

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  1. Mike,

    I really enjoyed the post. I grew up with the following response to just about every question I had for my parents. “I don’t think we can help you with that, but you can do it. We love you.” Being one of 5 kids of a preacher, I’m sure they wish the answer could have been different. But it was one of “The” core shapers of how I progressed. Enjoying work (I can remember my first job in the 7th grade), and the sense of accoplishment. LIke buying my first car on my own on my 16th birthday and many more.

    At Westpoint ( I don’t know if they still do this) every cadet has to take boxing. And the rule of thumb for success is, no one leaves the ring until they’ve had their nose bloodied. This might seem a little harsh, but the life skills of just that event are tremendous. Getting into a ring in front of all your peers, having to fight, overcome fears, have courage, persist, persevere, work physically, execute a strategy, implement a tactice, think while you move, take a blow, get injured……………and then the feeling of knowing you overcame. Incredible.

    It doesnt’ have to be a bloody nose but all those emotions and skills and character is also required for simple things like filling out the application on your own (again…and again), figure out how to get the payment made, go without and next time you’ll do better….You can do it.

    Not letting kids struggle really does rob them of the ability to develop life skills. It denies them the ability to learn self control, dignity in tough situations, self esteem that comes with accomplishing. There is no substitute for letting them struggle and fail and get up again. Being self reliant is good, when in the right context. That is relying on God given talents, abilities, His wisdom through Christ, His provision and His grace.

    Thanks Mike.

  2. Excellent article! I have seen so much of this type of parenting in school. I often wonder where are children are headed. Hurray for Josh for taking a leap of faith.

  3. Thanks, Mike, for your insights and thoughts each week. I have enjoyed them and my thinking has been challenged. I do agree with you and James W. that we need to let our kids “fall” sometimes to learn valuable lessons and to be put “through the fire”. Just as we do also, as adults. Thats how we grow and learn (hopefully). thanks you again and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

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