Welcome to the series No More “Nice” Kids. This week, we’re looking at why raising “nice” kids isn’t the same as raising kids who have Godly character. If you missed the beginning of this series, you can find it here.
“Can’t you two just be nice to each other?” I don’t know how many times I’ve said that to my kids. Mostly I say it when I just want a few minutes of peace and an end to whatever bickering is going on.
However, the truth is that my desire to have my kids be nice has much more to do with me than it does with doing what’s best for them.
Many of us have been living out the myth that we should be nice to everyone and that we should raise our kids to be nice to everyone. When we take a look at the Bible and the life of Jesus, we find that that’s not even biblical.
The Bible doesn’t ever use the word nice to describe our behavior — not once. Instead, we are given the instruction to be kind, compassionate and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32). We’re also told to do our best to “live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
As we talked about yesterday, the word nice means pleasing and agreeable, and the truth is that it’s not always possible to be pleasing and agreeable. Too often, though, we lead our kids to believe that it is.
How many times has one of my kids come home with a tale of woe about how someone else is treating them, and I’ve said, “Just be nice.”
Don’t get me wrong. There are times to turn the other cheek. Jesus did it. He allowed Himself to be arrested, beaten and crucified, but don’t think for a minute that he did it because He wanted to be nice. He did it because our sin required His sacrifice. He did it so that we could tell the world of His sacrifice for us. He did it because God wanted to be able to draw near to us. He didn’t do it to be nice.
And that’s the lesson I want to teach my daughters. It’s not always possible to be nice, but it is always possible to make the choice that draws others to God. Jesus drove the money lenders out of the temple. He lectured the Pharisees. He defied the worldly authority of the day. And He did it all to point the way to God.
Our kids are going to face situations where the advice “just be nice” is worthless. They’re going to find themselves in situations where they have to choose between being nice and standing for God’s truth. They’ll have to choose between being pleasing and agreeable and pointing the way to God. I want my kids to choose to be a beacon of light in this world. They can’t do that if I’m always telling them to be nice.
So, how do we change the discussion we’re having with our kids about how they treat others? I think it all starts with Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” We start teaching our kids that God’s admonition is not to be nice but to live in peace. We talk about how this verse points out that it’s not always possible to be at peace with everyone because it takes two people to create peace. Our job is to live a life that’s pleasing to God, one that doesn’t compromise who God is and what we stand for. If that brings us into conflict with others, then it’s our job to point the way to God in a loving way that brings as much peace to the relationship is possible.
We teach our kids that standing for God’s truth doesn’t mean that they are obnoxious or overbearing. It simply means that they live their lives according to God’s principles. It means they put others first, they love one another and they seek to follow Jesus. If that puts them at odds with someone, then they lovingly speak God’s truth.
What we don’t want is to raise a generation of kids that values being nice above all else because being nice all the time will put them in a situation where they have to choose between being nice and speaking the truth. Whenever my kids are in that situation, I don’t want them to be torn between choosing God’s truth and society’s definition of what a nice kid looks like.
Today, I want to challenge you to think about what you’re teaching your kids about being nice. Are you teaching them to stand for God’s truth or are you teaching them that being nice is the most important thing?