Core scripture: “Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’ Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:20-21)
Message: It was absolutely ridiculous. The TikTok video sent to me last week showed a kid barging into a bathroom, reaching under a bathroom stall, and yanking off some poor guy’s shorts. The kid, completely oblivious to who just depantsed him, is left in the stall to wonder how he will salvage his dignity.
These types of videos, know as the Devious Lick, are now going viral, and it has become a contest amongst teens to see who can top the most ridiculous acts of vandalism or humiliation of others. Toilets are getting clogged. Bathroom soap dispensers are being ripped off walls. And teens are using TikTok to spread these ideas in a nationwide challenge that makes me sick.
I tried addressing this with my 8th grade boys in youth group at church on Sunday. They all admitted to having seen some of these videos that were shared with them. No, they hadn’t created any of them, but there they were still seeing vandalism in their school restrooms. I asked them whether these kids were getting caught.
“Nope,” one of them said with a smile. “They share the videos, but they don’t post them to TikTok.”
“So, nobody gets caught?” I asked.
Every single one of them had the same philosophy. It is an unwritten rule. You just don’t snitch on your friends. Nothing could be said to these boys that would change their minds. I even pulled aside my most character-driven leader asking him if he would tell the truth.
“Nope!” he said easily with a sly smile growing on his face.
I burned with question in my heart. “But … why?”
“Not my business,” another one said.
My jaw dropped in sheer shock. I didn’t know what I was upset about more … the fact that these videos were popular or the fact that nobody was doing anything to stop it!
I have been praying recently about how to address this with my classes today. What do you say to a bunch of 7th graders? How should they react if they see one of these videos? Is it wrong to laugh at the videos, sharing them and liking them on TikTok? Is there anything we can do to stop this madness? Or how about the ultimate question that can’t really be shared with my students but should be lingering in our minds …
What would Christ want us to do?
So much scripture comes flooding in to answer these questions. To the kid seeking revenge for something done wrong to him? Proverbs 20:22 says, “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.” To the kid not wanting to snitch? John 8:32 says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Almost everything can be boiled down to one quote from Jesus in Luke 6:31: “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”
The golden rule.
Yeah, I can’t say any of that stuff in class today. It is certainly on my heart, but preaching straight from the Bible in a public school would get me fired. Instead, I plan on asking questions, allowing the kids to come up with answers. Telling a bunch of rebellious teens what to do would not be very effective. But if the right leaders step up today and are called upon, I wonder if something good might happen.
What if I got them to come up with the right answers? What if scripture was rephrased in such a way that it became common language amongst my classes? What if kids decided they should start a new TikTok challenge to do random acts of kindness? What if I took a few extra minutes to play a random acts of kindness video for them to see?
Oh, the possibilities!
That makes me wonder and dream about something fantastic: What if teachers went out of their way to model random acts of kindness to their students?
- Open doors for students as they walk in.
- Give fist bumps and high fives.
- Greet students by their name and compliment their attire.
- Draw public attention to little things the kids do like helping each other.
- Reward students for positive behavior.
- Write a little note on a sticky to encourage someone.
- Listen to your students’ problems.
- Play their favorite school appropriate music as they walk into your class.
- Laugh with your students.
- Allow your students have choices and share their voice.
- Call home to tell mom or dad how awesome they are.
- Compliment the smallest improvements.
- Get someone their favorite snack or drink for no reason at all.
- Invest time in your students by having lunch with them every now and again.
- Empathize with their problems.
- Provide a listening ear.
Yeah, this list could go on and on, but you get the point. How should I address the Devious Lick with my students? With love and kindness. Conquering evil with good. That, my friends, is how Christ would want us to behave.
Challenge: Address this topic in a positive way. Allow students to brainstorm random acts of kindness. Create the antidote to the Devious Lick called the Kindness Trick! Reward positive behavior for your classes and see what happens.
Video application: This TikTok enthusiast posted a video that I would like to share with you all about random acts of kindness. He takes it to an extreme! Pretty cool that he also has a cross dangling from his necklace for all to see.
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …
- Pray for students to make wise choices concerning the outbreak of the Devious Lick.
- Pray that students would spread kindness, love, and hope for all to see.
- Praise God for the leaders out there that are setting a model example for others to follow.
Just for fun: So, I volunteered to emcee my boys’ Back to School Bash last Friday night. It was awesome! I got to be the hype guy on the mic, getting elementary students to come up and dance and have fun. We did the limbo, the Cha Cha Slide, and totally owned the night! After finishing the gig and handing the mic over to the PTO president, I was approached by a grateful grandmother who asked me to perform at her daughter’s wedding next Memorial Day Weekend. Ladies and gents, I may have found my calling! Talk about a new fun side gig!
Prayer: Lord, may Your goodness and righteousness be seen in all that we do, prevailing over the evil. Work everything out for Your good! Amen.