“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” ~2 Cor. 10:3-6
How do I take a thought captive? How do I help my child defeat the strongholds of performance/appearance that are so pervasive today? We live in a world where the enemy is selling the idea, the stronghold or prison, that our worth is tied to our skills, beauty, body, talents, intellect, grades, fill in the blank.
This is a battle for me daily. Why would I ever think my child is immune? It is sold on every social media app, magazine, movie, or tv show. It is sold in schools by testing and scores, and it’s sold on every ball field or stage that the performance of the moment is life determining. The word Paul uses for stronghold equates with a fortress and prison. This stronghold of performance is a prison for the enemy.
But we need to recognize that the battle is NOT of this world – this isn’t a battle that will go away magically at 23 or 43 – finally grow up and don’t care about your looks, achievements-its not a little problem that’s no big deal. This isn’t a battle where we can just decide to not let it bother us.
This is a foundational principle the enemy wants to misalign in me and my kids because if he can cause this piece of the foundation to slope, he can capitalize on this for the rest of life to delegitimize or destabilize what God has called you to. As a mom and wife, I can get taken out and sidelined with thoughts of performance, so why would I want my kids to struggle in the same way? This is not a war of the flesh like dieting, exercise, study habits, etc. Paul declares this a real spiritual battle, and we have to be equipped and help equip our children in the battle of the mind. This battle looks different for different people at different times, but the battle has spiritual ramifications that ripple through eternity. Francis Chan compares our life here to a red inch on a rope hundreds of feet long, yet our red inch impacts our eternity. So mommas, let’s not get taken out in the first 10 seconds of the game.
“For our weapons are not of the flesh but have divine power” What weapons do we possess? We possess the Word of God – the sword. It is our primary weapon – the rest of the armor Paul references in Eph. 6 is defensive but the Truth slays all evil. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit. If you are saved, you are sealed – given the Counselor who will lead you into all Truth. (John 16:13, Eph 1:13) So when we are battling the thoughts of performance, we need to stop using human logic and reasoning.
We need to stop.
Stop reading the latest and greatest ideas to shape great, productive adults who succeed and are happy.
Stop reading how we can be better mothers, better women, better etc.
Read the Word.
Love the Word.
Read the Word to your children – remind them of who they are in Christ. Their value must be tied into what Christ did for them at the cross, and their daily walk is an outgrowth of that understanding. It’s time to stop placating our children with how good they are or how wonderful they are doing unless we are clearly defining their value and talents in light of the Gospel. Constantly bring them before the cross, and show them that apart from Jesus they are worthless, hopeless and ugly. But Jesus died for them, loved them from the start when they were so unloveable and nothing will EVER change that. No matter the outcome of a game or a test, no matter how clear your skin is or how skinny you feel today, Jesus loves you and has great plans for your life for His glory!
Help your child seek out Scripture and work through it with them. Then give them TIME with the Holy Spirit to respond to Him. He speaks so much better than we do. And over time their sword will sharpen. So often I just want to throw a verse, tell them to change, and walk away as if that solves anything.
Leading your little ones takes time. There’s no way around that fact, and it’s probably what chafes me the most. I have to lay aside my lists to seek the heart of my child and then turn with them to seek His heart.
Discipleship is walking another, hand in hand, to the throne and letting go and giving them private time with their Master. We have to trust the power of God and the perfect counsel of the Holy Spirit to vanquish strongholds.
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” These are strong verbs Paul uses – the verb he uses to take every thought captive gives the picture of marching into a battle field and with a spear piercing the lie through and carrying it triumphantly out. To destroy indicates utter annihilation and destruction. These are not the words of pacifism or complacency. I need to stop being ok with certain confessions coming out of my own mouth or the mouths of my children. Again we need to know our great worth and value based on the Gospel. It is not based on me – Jesus alone has given me great worth as a daughter dearly loved. He alone will work in and through me to do His great will for His glory. My role is to walk with Him, seek Him, know His truth. If you don’t live outside the fortress of performance, I plead with you to begin to seek all the Word says about who you are in Christ – understand what it means to abide in Christ, what it means to set your heart on things above.
And then I need to teach my child what I am learning. Speak out loud my failings – when I have been dragged back into the prison of performance – share how I am resetting my mind and memorize the Word together.
The word picture I like to give my kids about this battle is that of an airport. Your mind is the air traffic controller and the thoughts that fly through your mind are the planes in the airspace. You, walking with the Holy Spirit and learning God’s Word, need to look at every thought that comes into your mind just like the controller examines every plane. Each plane must ask permission to land, and the controller either grants or denies. The same holds true for our mind – the thoughts that fly into our mind are not what we are responsible for. We are responsible for what we allow to land – what we allow to stay and take over our airfield.
So let’s be fierce. Do not give ground to the lies of this world, and challenge the ground our children may be giving. Remember we battle alongside of our children as their swords sharpen.