“Bad company corrupts good character.”
We’ve all seen this play out again and again. A “good” kid gets in with the wrong crowd in high school and ends up addicted to drugs. An NFL player making millions of dollars gets arrested for robbery. His coach’s response: “He’s gotta get a new crew.” A high school student who is “on fire” for Jesus, goes off to college, makes new friends, and comes home no longer believing in or following Jesus. Why do stories like this happen? It happens because of the Biblical Principle of Relational Influence, which states…
Those IN our lives have the greatest IN-fluence on our lives.
Since our hearts are the center of our lives, the people IN our lives have the greatest influence on what enters our hearts. Therefore, guarding our hearts from destruction is dependent upon who is IN our lives.
In 2 Corinthians 6:14, the Apostle Paul tells us: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.”
Essentially what Paul is saying is: “Don’t be ‘yoked with’ people who steer, influence, tempt, and draw you away from Jesus and the things of God. They are BAD COMPANY. Have them around but not IN your life, because bad company is an inevitable arrow to our hearts.”
Instead, “Be ‘yoked with’ people who draw you toward Jesus and the things of God. They are GOOD COMPANY. Don’t just have them around you. Have them IN your life.”
Parents, we can guard our kids’ hearts for awhile when they’re young from bad company, but we can’t do it forever. Therefore, our job is to teach and equip our kids HOW to guard their own hearts from the arrow of bad company.
Some parents have tried isolating their kids from the world and putting them in a “Christian bubble,” where they are surrounded only by Christians, attend Christian schools, read only Christian books, watch only Christian movies, and listen to only Christian music. The success rate of kids hearts being guarded from the arrow of bad company has historically been very low with this approach, because this “protection through isolation” does NOT equip our kids to guard their hearts.
Your kids will be faced with “bad company” at some point…there is bad company everywhere, even in Christian circles!
When we isolate our kids, we cause their FOCUS to be on WHO to stay away FROM. I am convinced that when whenever we focus on what not to do, the more likely we are to do what we’re trying not to do…and the more likely we’ll end up being with those we’re not to be with…“bad company”.
Where our focus lies determines where our feet follow.
I want to suggest an alternative way to teach and equip our kids to guard their hearts from this arrow. It involves shifting their focus by asking them 2 QUESTIONS:
1. WHO do you want to BE?
We should start asking our kids this question when they’re young, helping them envision who they want to be by repeatedly asking this and helping them put words to it.
2. Based on who you want to be, who should be IN your life?
By asking this, we are shifting their focus to who should be IN their lives, instead of who should NOT be in their lives…because where our focus lies determines where our feet follow.
Based on who you want to be, do you have good company IN your life?
Let’s unite with those who draw us – and who we draw - towards Jesus! Let’s be an influence in the lives of those who need Jesus TOGETHER!