Parents Raising First Responders: Compassionate Children

by Sally Matheny

photo by Sally Matheny
Martin Luther King, Jr. gave an intriguing perspective on the story of the Good Samaritan. He said, “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But the Good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

Have you ever considered the Good Samaritan as a first responder? He wasn’t certified, emergency personnel. The priest in the story certainly wasn’t like NYFD chaplain, Father Mychal Judge, who went to assist those in need when the World Trade Center was attacked.

Due to the terrorists’ assaults on September 11, 2001, almost 3,000 people died. That death toll included over 400 first responders, including Father Judge, who came to the rescue.

While people poured out to escape the towers, the first responders charged in. Pushing through heavy smoke and ash, they sought out those in need.

Why would anyone risk their life for a stranger? Why endanger your future with your spouse, your children, and your life dreams in order to preserve the future of a stranger?

Intense training helps America’s emergency personnel, fire fighters, police officers and military service members. They are the best first responders when physical danger looms. They have my utmost respect and appreciation.

However, we hear about other kinds of first responders, when rare moments arise and an immediate action is necessary. People pull victims to safety and thwart evil schemes.They step up and speak up.

Some people bravely spring into action while others hang back. Why?

Practice compassion.
Pixabay photo
Are certain people born with a natural tendency towards empathy? I’m sure a thousand scientific studies have already been conducted concerning the topic.

One thing for sure, we’re all born with a selfish nature. 

And we all experience fear.

So, why do some people stop and help, like the Good Samaritan, and others pass by?

It’s obvious when we hang back, it‘s due to some type of fear. Fear of pain, rejection, or the cost of time, money, and emotional involvement.

Some researchers suggest the ones who act, usually grew up taking part in activities which involved empathy. As children, they may have had opportunities to serve in the community, work at shelters, or watched parents be a voice for the oppressed.

If children are encouraged to do the right thing, and to help those less fortunate, then they are more likely to continue to do those things as adults.
On the other hand, if children grow up where everything is centered on their desires and comfort, then it makes sense that they will avoid anything contrary to that.

Sometimes, to do the right thing as a parent, we have to face our own fears of pain, rejection, time & emotional involvement.

Are we willing stop and tend to our children’s hearts, instead of gliding by, hoping they pick up assistance from someone else? Because someone else may teach how to do good things without adding the Reason why we do them. Someone else may add agendas to pollute the heart instead of allowing God’s Word to purify it. Even worse, there may not be anyone willing to stop at all. Too late, we realize what we had hoped would happen “naturally,” or under someone else’s care, did not happen at all.

Are we brave enough to set an example for our kids by lovingly speaking the truth of God’s Word rather than agreeing with a world that contradicts it?

photo by Sally Matheny

God, help us to be the first responders to our children’s spiritual training. Strengthen us to stand firm on your perfect, Holy Word.   By Your grace and mercy, help us raise our children to be God-fearing, yet fearless of the world. Help us instill in them a love for all your people. To be first responders for those in need, especially those in need of You.   Amen.