If we're not careful, our care of vulnerable kids and families can become shrouded in an evangelical hero complex that makes it more about us than it is about them. In the end, our good works can be promoted on the backs of the vulnerable to the detriment of making Jesus known as the true Hero in all of this.
THE IDOL OF FOSTER CARE
Our call to care for kids in foster care is more about the help they need than it is about our need to help. We cannot use foster care as the means by which we gain our ultimate sense of fulfillment, purpose or meaning. Only Jesus can provide that for us. Many of these kids experience horrendous atrocities and injustices in a very short amount of time. The last thing they need is us using them to mask our own personal insecurities by burdening them with the expectation to satisfy our self-righteous need to help someone less fortunate. Foster care then becomes an idol, and a service project – a work upon which our identity is based and our self-justifying needs are met.
They are not trophies for us to put on display so people know how obedient, radical and missional we are. The end goal of our obedience in caring for kids in foster care is not the display of our own obedience – instead, it's what a child may greatly gain through what we are called to lose - namely, ourselves. It’s about what is best for the them, not what is glamorous or daring or risky or evangelically sexy for us.
Fostering and adopting abused, neglected and vulnerable children is a big deal, but it expresses itself primarily through very small, very menial, very hidden tasks that go largely unnoticed. The rude realities of foster care find themselves up for 3am feedings, changing a diaper of a baby that's not even yours for what seems to be the 100th time that day, on the phone with case-workers, lawyers, doctors and government departmental offices, filling out stacks of paperwork, sitting through court hearings, driving across the city for parent visits and trying desperately to manage behavior born out of trauma. This is a far cry from putting our super hero capes on while parading our multi-racial family down the hall at church or through the aisles of the grocery store hoping people will notice how awesome we are.
Yes, foster care is a big deal, but its grandness is not measured by the public fame it produces but by the private faithfulness it requires…when no one is around to see, no one cares and there's no chance that you'll ever earn a prize for it or be given a cape to wear because of it.
JESUS, THE TRUE HERO
The hard but glorious call of the Christian life, in all arenas, is to lose yourself in order to truly find yourself in Jesus (Matthew 16:25). It's to humbly take up the cross of your own death daily so that in Jesus you may find life (Luke 9:23). The beauty of the Gospel is that Jesus never calls us to do anything that He hasn't first willingly, joyfully and perfectly done for us. His call for us to lose our lives is but a mere signpost to the great loss He endured on our behalf. His call for us to carry the cross is but a shadow of the death He joyfully carried in our place.
In light of the Gospel, our call to care for vulnerable kids is the joyous privilege we have to lose ourselves for their sakes because He first lost Himself for ours. We carry the burden of their plight because He first carried the unjust and undeserved weight of ours to His death. He is the Hero in all of this - we are but shadows. He is the Hero - we are but signposts.
We don’t strut into their stories with a cape on our shoulders; we crawl into them with the Cross on our back. This is our great hope, that in all of our efforts for them we are ultimately free from the burden of trying to make it about us. There’s only room in the gospel for one hero – and it’s not us.
So let’s put the cape down and pick the Cross up.
Everyone wins if Jesus is made out to be the Hero. Everyone loses if not.
- Foster Care, Adoption and Saying Yes to the Unknown
- Faithfulness, Foster Care and Trusting God With the Rest
- Five Responses to Common Things Often Said to Foster Parents
- Surprised by Foster Care: Five Ways It's Not What I Thought It Would Be
- Five Powerful Truths in Scripture Every Foster Parent Must Know
- Foster Care: An Invitation Into An Entirely New Story
- Counting the Costs of Fostering or Adopting
- Busyness, Obedience and the Perfect Time to Foster or Adopt
- Three Things Foster Parents Don't Have to Be
- Wrapping Around Foster and Adoptive Families
- Ten Simple Ways Your Church Can Serve Foster Families
- To Foster and Adoptive Parents: Reframing Your Season of Struggle
- Foster Care is Spiritual Warfare
- The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Marriage in Foster Care
- Foster Care: Loving a Child That Might Leave
- Foster Care and What I Fear Most For My Own Kids
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