4 Steps to Save the Day -- MacGyver-style

My youngest daughter got sent home from school sick on Tuesday. She stayed home again yesterday, but I had work that needed to be done. So, through the wonders of Netflix, I introduced my daughter to one of my favorite TV shows, MacGyver.

MacGyver was my favorite TV show when I was in junior high and high school. Besides having a cute lead actor, I loved how MacGyver could save the day with a stick of bubble gum and a Swiss army knife. Need to disarm a bomb? All you need is a safety pin. Need to stop a leak of sulfuric acid? Use a chocolate bar. MacGyver was a master at using what he had to save the day. Plus, he only used one name, thus upping his coolness factor.

As I watched this show with my daughter, I was reminded that sometimes life doesn't go as planned. While my kids don't often need to save the world from imminent disaster, they do often need to salvage a day gone wrong. They need to learn how to salvage what they can from a bad experience and move on.

My oldest isn't really happy with school right now. She's had a few issues with her teacher, and some of the girls haven't been very nice lately. She asked me yesterday how many days were left in the school year. A couple of bad days this week have her thinking the entire rest of the year is going to be like this.

We need to teach our kids how to perform a MacGyver-like rescue when things go wrong. It requires redirecting their perspective and using what they have to make the best of a tough situation. You see, God didn't promise us that we wouldn't have trouble in our lives. As a matter of fact, Jesus said "In this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33). But the rest of that verse reminds us of one important fact: "But take heart! I have overcome the world."

When your kids have trouble, help them do their best MacGyver impersonation and follow these steps:

  1. Assess the situation. MacGyver was always looking around to make the best judgment of the reality of the situation. While things may seem dire at first, there's always a way out. That's not just a MacGyver principle, it's God's principle. God didn't leave the Israelites in captivity; He brought them out of Egypt. God didn't leave us separated from Him; He sent Jesus.
  2. Ask for help. MacGyver nearly always had help, whether it was someone he met along the way or back-up that he knew was coming. We have even better help than MacGyver. We have heavenly help. God wants us to ask Him for help, and He promises to answer. Teach your kids to ask God for wisdom in whatever their current situation is.
  3. Figure out what tools you have. In the first episode of MacGyver, someone says his bag isn't big enough to carry all the stuff he's going to need to solve the problem. MacGyver says, "This isn't for what I take with me; it's for what I find along the way." God provides us with all the tools we'll need for any situation. Some we may bring with us, like our faith and our attitude. Others, we may find while dealing with the situation, like wisdom and help from others.
  4. Use those tools to salvage the day. Using what he had, MacGyver always saves the day, usually just seconds before something is going to explode. Our kids need to use their tools to salvage a day gone bad. It might require an attitude change or dealing with the source of a problem, but by asking for help and using the tools they have, they can turn a bad day into a better one.

We're using these steps with my daughter to salvage the rest of her school year. We've assessed the situation and realized she can't get away from her teacher or the mean girls in her class. We've started praying about the situation every night, asking God to change it and to help her get through the day. We've helped her to realize that her key tool in this battle is her attitude. If she goes into the day thinking it's going to be terrible, it probably will be, but if she chooses joy in the morning, then it will probably be a better day. Last, we're helping her to realize that she can choose to walk away from the mean girls and she can choose to offer her teacher respect, even if my daughter doesn't feel she deserves it.

Rough days and weeks can be tough for our kids, but with some help from us and God, they can save the day -- MacGyver-style.