Empowering Our Kids Against Addiction: Part 5 – Following A Spiritual Compass
If you have been following this series, I hope you now have a clear picture of some of the essential tools you can share with your kids and teens to help them live as well as possible – without addiction. The first four skills we examined are about different ways to do life well. This final tool is all about helping them find and maintain the right course in their life-decisions.
How we work through the process of making decisions in our lives really comes down to who we believe is in charge of our lives. If my philosophy is to “look out for Number One,” you can bet I’m going to make decisions based on what I think is best, and what I believe is best for me. You’ll have to fend for yourself. Too bad for you. Or anyone else in my life who pays a price for my self-led, self-centered decisions. If my philosophy is that my life is just a part of a larger whole, that my life matters in that it is part of a community, then I’ll tend to make decisions based on how my actions affect the lives of others around me and even through the generations. If my philosophy is that there is a Creator and Sustainer of life who is far bigger and better than me or you or even our collective community, then I’m going to aim to do life the way I believe God wants me to live it. And I will do well to actively seek that all-knowing Voice of loving goodness to guide me, equip me, empower me, and correct me along the way. I will recognize I am not my best compass, and neither are any of you. The best compass I can use in my journey of life comes from God. So, how do I follow a spiritual compass that directs my choices in a godly direction, and how can I train my kids to do the same?
Read books that inspire and challenge on a deep, spiritual level. Read them on my own. Read them with my family. Actively discuss them with my family and friends. And yes, as a Christian, my primary book for spiritual truth, encouragement, and course correction is the Bible. For sure. But there are plenty of others that can make very important contributions to my spiritual compass along the way. Am I asking others I respect for their reading suggestions? Am I seeking and reading with an open mind and a desire to grow spiritually? Am I learning to recognize and utilize truth when I discover it in “unconventional” places? Am I learning to recognize and reject falsehood when I discover it in “conventional” places? Am I cultivating the kinds of conversations with my children and teens that help them learn to do the same?
Use movies, television, and other stories to discuss the importance and impact of one’s life-compass. Whether the story, the character, or the outcome seems to be good, bad, or “a bit of both,” as Star-Lord would say, use that material to talk about the practical impact of different philosophical, moral, and spiritual beliefs. Talk together about what might have happened differently, if certain beliefs had been different. Or even if the entire paradigm, or worldview, had been different. Consider together what might happen in that story if the characters followed the compass I follow, or the compass each of my kids follows. Take the time to have each family member dig into Scripture to see if God has already offered clear guidance about a decision faced by someone in that story. What would it look like to follow His compass in that situation?
Practice prayer and meditation regularly. Notice I didn’t say “pray and meditate regularly.” I said to practice these avenues. Even the acts of reaching out to God, listening for His voice, and dwelling on His voice can be lacking in spiritual power if we are simply doing them the way that is easiest and most comfortable for us. We do well learn from others whose lives have produced good spiritual fruit. And when we sincerely invite God to move in us and lead us on His path on a daily basis, we are most likely to plot our course by the right spiritual compass, which leads us and our kids away from the snares and pitfalls of addiction. That’s for sure.
Live in connection with community. One of the most jarring ironies of our time is that we have far more methods of global connection and instant communication than ever before in the history of planet earth… and yet more and more people (particularly in U.S. culture) are feeling isolated and alone. For the sake of our sanity, our spiritual compasses, and those of our kids as they grow through adolescence into adulthood, let’s be deliberate about connecting with a positive spiritual community. This can include a healthy church, a support group aiming for “recovery,” an active book club, a group of concerned citizens, an organized volunteer network, a supper club, a gaming group, or countless other forms of connection. While I will prioritize these various types of community differently, my family and I do well to be a part of something bigger than our little “us.”
And speaking of getting outside my own little box and mindset… what’s on your mind? What challenges or questions has this series sparked in you? What are you now working on doing differently? What else have you found particularly valuable that you would add to this list? What has been most significant in keeping your life on the right path, or steering your life onto the right path? Feel free to connect with me here, on my Facebook page, or on my YouTube channel. And let me know if I can help you or your family members in your journey to steer clear of addiction.