Thursday, May 26, 2011

They question everything...

As a teacher of middle school students and the mother of two teens, I have noticed something...they question EVERYTHING! I can almost feel all the other teachers and parents out there nodding their heads in agreement. At times it is so exhausting...mainly because there is a fine line between questioning and disrespect, but I think I may have a way to tell the difference.

This blog started the other day when I attended the graduation ceremony of one of our local High Schools. I was so proud of those young men and women that I knew who crossed the stage into the next part of their lives. I wanted to cheer, but they had asked us simply stand in recognition and not "get out of hand". They, of course, did not use that wording, but I think we all understood what was meant. The young man in front of me questioned why they had that rule and I answered the best way I knew how by saying it was so that EVERY parent could hear their child's name when it was called. He didn't agree with the rule, but said he'd take my word for it.

Later on in the ceremony, a few groups, most of whom were NOT teenagers, decided to disregard the request and were escorted out. I had to notice, however, it was not simply that they cheered - but the cheers went on and on and then when the participants sat down you could hear comments from them daring the security to come and tell THEM to move. There it was - the difference. They questioned not because they felt the rule was wrong - they questioned because they didn't want anyone telling them what to do!

At the very end of the ceremony, once hats had been tossed and people were starting to leave, another young man that I know personally celebrated by doing a back flip....and again I was struck with the difference. This young man had obeyed and respected the rules, yet found a way to be uniquely himself in the process simply by waiting until the ceremony was over. I hope I am not the only one that sees the difference.

I, like most parents and teachers, don't want to raise mindless robots who simply obey without thinking. (Behavior like that led to Hitler's rise in power and some of the segregation laws in this country.) I want to raise citizens who THINK and who question when things aren't right. However, in doing this, I am also concerned that we have taught an entire generation to question simply when they don't like the rules because they want things their way...sort of a Burger King generation - have it your way, have it your way. We forget that our rights end where another person's begin.

The Bible talks about this in Proverbs 29:18 - "Without a vision, the people perish." One version says "Without revelation the people cast off restraint." The second part is equally important, "but happy is he who keeps the law." Most versions say "blessed is he who keeps the law." I want my children to be blessed.

So how do I help my children question without being disobedient? Simple - I first teach them God's law. What is that? Well, the ten commandments of course; but since kids have such a short attention span I'll narrow it to the top two - just like Jesus did for us (who also have very short attention spans!) #1 - Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and spirit. #2 - Love your neighbor as yourself.

Now - look at what you are questioning. Is it something that challenges #1? How about #2? If it's not challenging either of these, then you should obey. You can ask questions, but ask yourself if you are questioning because you don't understand, because it breaks one of the top two, or because you want to have things your way.

I believe this next generation holds greatness in them if they catch the vision that God has for their lives. If not, I'm concerned we'll raise yet another generation that is singing, "It's all about me, it's all about I, it's all about Number One oh my, me my! What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see." (Paraphrasing Toby Keith's song.)

I believe this generation deserves more. I want to spend my days helping them catch the vision of what God has for them...not simply answering a whole lot of "me" questions.

And at the next graduation, I will follow the rules...and keep my eye out for the kid who does the back flip at the end.

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