By Wes Comer
One of my greatest joys is being a dad to my five (soon to be six) kids. I’ll admit there are times when I feel I’m not up to the task, but have learned over the years the great importance of the church in my life. My dad was absent for most of my childhood, and in those moments where I needed instruction, encouragement, and, yes, even correction, my church and my pastor were there. They pointed toward Jesus, helping me to learn from His example, and to develop in my relationship with Him.
I can tell you from experience, the single most important thing we can do to become better parents is to become better Christians and followers of Jesus. Browse through the headlines on any given day, anywhere in the world, and the need for godly parenting becomes exceedingly clear.
Details and news reports are still flooding in about the shooting in Isla Vista, California, just a few short days ago (and are probably still being discussed by the time you receive this issue in your mailbox). Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old college student, gunned down six innocent people at various locations before taking his own life.
Elliot was not a soldier returning from war that “snapped” and went on a killing spree. He wasn’t hopelessly bullied by other young men, or pushed around. He wasn’t physically abused by his family, or deprived in any way. Rather, Elliot Rodger was the son of a successful Hollywood director. He was a young man who lamented his perceived lack of wealth while driving around in late model BMW with leather interior.
To many, Elliot probably had a dream life—attending movie premiers; private concerts with chart-topping artists; a nice, semi-private apartment near campus; and family sending him cash so he didn’t have to work all the while. So how did all of that turn into rage, hatred, and, ultimately, mass murder?
This man’s father, Peter Rodger, is a film director. Mostly commercials, but he had recently experienced a huge boost in his career as a second unit director for “The Hunger Games” film franchise. With commercials, Mr. Rodger’s job is to create a sense of desire for a product, service, or lifestyle. In film, his goal is to create a fantasy world, providing an escape from the cares of life, if only for a short time. This is heartbreaking to me. Surelysurely—this is at least partially to blame for this tragedy.
Rodger wrote in 2011, at the age of 19, “I was desperate to have the life I know I deserve…I am magnificent, no matter how much the world treated me otherwise. I am destined for great things.”
Where did Elliot learn that life is about money and pleasure? That he is “magnificent” and “deserves” a life equal to some character in a movie? Could it be that his father taught him? If not directly, then certainly he observed the lesson through his father’s work.
What we see in this petri dish of Elliot Rodger’s story is the same tragedy playing out across humanity right now There are those who are producing beautiuflly filmed pieces of impossible-to-obtain lifestyles and products, which create a cancerous, devastating rot of inadequacy and lack of fulfillment in people’s hearts and minds. Pornography, movies, on-demand television, tech products, high-speed internet, streaming services…we cram it all in as fast as we can get our hands on it, and on the biggest screens we can afford. And just like a super-sized value meal, it feels so good in the moment, but leaves you feeling terrible immediately after. And, when repeated and left unchecked, eventually those self-loathing moments of regret get splintered, sharpened, and turned into weapons of bitterness, resentment, and envy.
Ephesians 6:4, in the God’s Word Translation, provides a sobering and timely warning for all of us:
“Fathers, don’t make your children bitter about life. Instead, bring them up in Christian discipline and instruction.”
Dad, don’t focus so much on the house, the cars, the lifestyle, the entertainment, the giant television, and the latest everything. Don’t plant that seed that may make your children bitter about life when they can’t afford to keep up when they’re on their own. Teach them to love Jesus. To seek Him first. Teach them the real meaning of success, and the real consequences of real failure. Sit down tonight, read Matthew 6:19-34 to your family, and pray with them. Pray for them. And ask them to pray for you.
The above article, “Lessons From Dad,” is written by Wes Comer. The article was excerpted from Apostolic Witness, June 2014.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.