My kids and I share many things: an odd sense of humor, a fierce adherence to logic, and my rugged good looks. However, in our home, none of our shared qualities gets quite as much attention as our shared love of superheroes. As a father in my early thirties, straddling that middle ground between “Generation X” and “Millennial”, I grew up watching awesome cartoons like “The Amazing Spiderman”, “Batman: The Animated Series”, and of course, “X-men”. Now, imagine my delight when my eight-year-old son and five-year-old daughter have both become Superhero fans as well!
It’s like a second childhood for me. It’s awesome! I get to watch all the new Marvel cartoons and play with action figures all over again. I have go-to companions for all these Marvel movies that are coming out lately, and my 30+ years of comic-book facts are actually put to good use in entertaining my kids. It’s great! However, the best part was a few months ago, when I realized that I had inadvertently taught my kids the meaning of stewardship by playing with superheroes.
Stewardship is defined as “an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources.” However, in our family, it goes beyond that. We believe that we are each created uniquely, and with purpose… That everyone, either by birth or by circumstance, has been gifted with certain talents, abilities, or resources meant to uplift and serve the community around us. In other words, we are given gifts, so that we can give to others. A few months ago, my son explained this concept to me in a different way.
We were rough-housing in the Living room, swinging around nerf swords, and making laser sounds with our mouths… ya know… normal adult stuff. I was the evil villain, and my kids were the scrappy, outmatched superheroes trying to save the day. My son was a ninja with a nerf sword and Ironman gloves that shot lasers, and my daughter was a warrior princess with Captain America’s shield, and “Elsa powers” -the ability to freeze me in place. I was the “Daddy-Monster”, moving around slowly, roaring loud, and swinging a giant pool noodle like a sword… and I was winning. J
We were about to settle down for the evening when the kids decided to rally for one last charge, and I could hear my son trying to “pump up” his sister. She was pretending to be frustrated, saying things like “the monster is too powerful” or “we can’t do this” all in her tiny, little-girl voice.
Then my son acted all serious, “Remember what Spiderman says,” he says as he grabbed her shoulder as a show of encouragement. “‘With great power, comes great responsibility’. You have been given Captain America’s shield and ‘Elsa powers’. Those are great powers, which means you have the responsibility to defeat the big monster. You can do it. I’ll be right next to you.”
…and then they charged.
I guess that makes sense. Superheroes are heroic because they take the abilities they were given, and use them for the benefit of others, regardless of the danger they wade into. The best heroes recognize that they were given gifts for the purpose of gifting others… and my kids understand that.
That concept has carried over into the real world. We are always looking for ways to help invest in our community with what we have, whether it’s donating to a local pantry, stopping to help on the side of the road, or even giving our time at church. I am trying hard to set an example for them so they see that while laser hands and “Elsa powers” sure are cool, there are many other gifts that we can use to lend a helping hand to others as well.
Needless to say, the heroes defeated the dreaded “Daddy-Monster” that day. He went down with an epic roar and a tear in his eye that came from the pride of seeing his children understand something truly heroic.
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