Priscilla Shirer, head of Going Beyond Ministries, is warning parents that society’s growing rejection of biblical truths is going to have a “staggering” effect on future generations.
To help children grow in knowledge about their Creator and who they are, one of Shirer's points of advice is to teach children to find their identity in Christ.
“People today are struggling to define themselves; we’re seeing folks redefine things that God has already given definitions for, and it’s because culture continues to move far away from the truths of God as a centerpiece for culture,” Shirer told The Christian Post. “It used to be, even if people weren’t Christians, they respected the basic tenants of Christianity. That’s not the case anymore.
“We now live in a postmodern culture,” she said. “You’re ridiculed for believing that the Bible has morals that are relevant. And the more we marginalize God, the more we see the marginalization of the definitions He’s created. The more society pushes God to the periphery, the more we’re going to see the effects of that.”
Society’s continued rejection of God has had “staggering ripple effects” on children, the mother-of-three said.
“Kids think they are what they feel and how they behave; that their inclinations and past define them,” Shirer continued. “But the Bible said that while those things may be true, they don’t define you. You are who God says you are, and you have the right to operate in that way.”
Shirer, the daughter of famed Pastor Tony Evans, stars in the forthcoming Kendrick brothers film “Overcomer,” opening Aug. 23. The film follows boys' basketball coach John Harrison, whose team is depleted due to an economic downturn in the community.
Knowing a state championship is no longer within reach and he's no longer a winning coach, John grows depressed and questions his identity. He grows even more despondent when he’s asked to coach the cross-country team, which has only one runner, Hannah Scott, a quiet girl who's searching for her identity in life too.
Shirer plays Olivia Brooks, a high school principal who believes compassion, forgiveness, and prayer have the power to change the trajectory of a child’s life. Olivia mentors Hannah, building a relationship with her and helping her discover her potential. Thanks to Olivia’s guidance, Hannah recognizes the importance of God in the development of her identity.
Shirer told CP she resonated with Olivia’s character because of her own experience as a mother and mentor who values instilling confidence and truth into the next generation.
“It was incredible to portray this woman who was polished but takes every opportunity to remove that polished veneer and sit down with kids and get into their hearts,” she said. “She’s not doing just her job; she wants to impact lives. As a mom of teenage boys, I pray for myself that the administrators and teachers around my sons will care about them, not just making sure they get an A, but find opportunities to help shape their character.”
LifeWay is publishing multiple resources for adults and children to accompany the movie, led by a Bible study kit. Resources also include books for adults (Defined, written by the Kendricks); teen boys and young men (Revealed, by the Kendricks and Troy Schmidt); teen girls and young women (Radiant, by Shirer); and middle schoolers (Wonderful, by the Kendricks and Amy Parker).
“‘Overcomer’ is all about finding your identity in Christ,” Shirer said. “How do we do that? We go back to God’s word and identity what He says about you and discover actual truths. Just like it took a lot of years to program your mindset in one direction, it will take a lot of time to re-frame your thinking in another direction.”
“Read Ephesians 1 and 2 and write down everything God says you are,” she said. “Rehearse that, and post it in places you’ll run into, whether it’s your bathroom mirror or car dashboard, so you can remind yourself that you’re not rejected; you’re chosen, loved, redeemed, and forgiven.”
Finding your identity in Christ will impact every decision you make, Shirer contended, from choosing a career or spouse to posting on social media.
“Before you make a decision, pause and give yourself the grace to ask, ‘does this stem from one of the lies of insecurity, fear, and rejection? Or am I making this decision from a place of truth?’” she advised. “When we pause, it gives us a place in our heart to see the root of why we’re making this choice, and if we need to, recalibrate and make the right decision.”
“Think about how many relationships we choose out of a place of insecurity and how differently we’d make choices if we truly believed, ‘I am enough,’” she continued. “We’d choose different friendships, romantic relationships, career paths. Coming to grips with this issue of identity and recognizing your significance can change the course of your life.”