As a fairly new father (I have a teething 2-year-old and a 1-month-old—please pray for me), I’m realizing how I see the world differently now. Two years ago I would have barely noticed the Halloween billboard with the creepy clown across from our house. Now I worry if it’s going to scare my oldest. Walking through a parking lot went from being something I thought nothing about to the most terrifying part of my day (kid #1 is a runner. I’m 100% positive kid #2 will be also. I can see it in his eyes). And I think a lot about how I can help form the character of these two little guys as they grow up.
Last night we watched the Vice Presidential debate with our kids in the room as my wife explained it all to my oldest. It got me thinking: when he’s old enough to understand what’s happening, what would I want him to learn? Here are a few lessons we can teach our kids from these debates.
BEING RIGHT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU’RE RUDE
By some counts, Tim Kaine interrupted Mike Pence 72 times during last night’s debate, often challenging Donald Trump’s more outlandish statements. Fact checkers found Kaine was right in many of his challenges, and yet most declared Pence the winner of the debate. Why? While Kaine came off as aggressive and rude, Pence kept his composure.
What you say is often less important than how you say it. This is something my wife and I are already trying to teach our oldest.
YOUR ACTIONS NOW WILL AFFECT YOUR FUTURE
As a 35-year-old who graduated high school in 1999, I just barely missed the intersection of social media and adolescence. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for this. I remember some things I said five years ago and cringe. The idea of comments I made in high school or early college floating around on the internet, accessible to anyone, is terrifying. My kids won’t be so lucky.
I mention this because throughout Trump’s campaign many of his past blunders have surfaced: his Playboy video appearance, his insulting tweets, and his blatant contradictions.
Most of last night’s debate centered around Kaine asking Pence to defend Trump’s outlandish statements and Pence’s attempts to move the conversation forward. In the digital age, you almost always reap what you sow with your words.
WINNING ISN’T EVERYTHING
One of the most freeing parts of following Jesus is we aren’t in the business of winning. In God’s upside down kingdom, the last are first, washing dirty feet is more impressive than being CEO and telling the truth is more important than winning a presidential election. This is something I hope both my kids learn at an early age. My wife and I—and more importantly, God—are more concerned with what kind of person they’re becoming than what they are achieving.
This is what I walked away thinking last night. I believe both Kaine and Pence are committed followers of Jesus and men of integrity, and yet Kaine was abrasive and combative, while Pence lied multiple times about past comments. It’s not worth it to gain anything—even the world—if you lose your soul in the process. Nothing is worth that.
What I hope to teach both my kids—in addition to parking lot safety and avoiding creepy billboard clowns—is that what matters most is walking with Jesus each day and following the path of his kingdom.
If they do that, they’ve done everything that matters.