Category Archives: Parenting
Not too long ago I wrote about the necessity of encouraging your lay leaders. Most of your volunteers work a 40 hour a week (or more) job and still give up hours of their time to minister to the students in your ministry. Too often they go unnoticed and under-appreciated. Today I want to talk to you about encouraging your parents. I don’t mean your biological parents, but the parents of the kids involved in your ministry.
No, I’m not a parent yet. But I can only imagine how draining it must be. You and your leaders (unless you have teens of your own) get to go home at the end of youth group and after each event and have a teen-free environment to vedge. Parents, however, do not have that luxury. Don’t get me wrong, having teenage children is a blessing, but everybody needs a break now and again, and most parents of teenagers probably aren’t getting that. Without such a break, parents get worn out, fed up, and may even start questioning the effectiveness of their parenting as a whole. As youth minsters and volunteers, out ministry extends beyond the middle school and high school age group. We are also called to minister to the parents. Moreover, we are called to minister to the whole family.
Just this morning Jason and I were marveling at the fact that once we do have kids, there is no “going back”. Right now we have the pleasure of enjoying each others’ company. Once we have kids, that dynamic will not go away, but it will be different. Once you’re a parent you never stop being a parent – whether you’re 20, 40, or 60. What an incredible blessing and responsibility that is! And at times, what a burden. That’s where we come in.
I beg you not to forget the parents involved in or affected by your ministry in some way, shape, or form. Maybe that means you plan a parents night out where you simply offer to watch their kids while they go out on a date. Or maybe you have a parents event where you dote on them, and maybe even have their kids serve them for a change in roles. Whatever this means for you and your youth ministry, we cannot be neglecting one of the most crucial parts of family ministry – the backbone and foundation – the parents. Whether or not your church offers things for parents to get recharged or not, I challenge you to find ways to recharge them also.
If you are a lover of the NFL, then the draft is like Christmas morning. All of the future NFL stars are brimming with optimism, the fans deck themselves out in their team gear, and if you’re a Redskins fan, you thank God for Robert Griffin III.
As a football fan I love the NFL draft because I love to see the names and college careers of the players that will affect the Packers’ franchise. I celebrated as the Packers picked Derek Sherrod an Offensive Tackle from Mississippi State (2011), Bryan Bulaga an Offensive Tackle from Iowa (2010) and Clay Matthews a Linebacker from USC (2009). However, not every pick is a home run and sometimes that person you put all your confidence in turns out to be more like Ryan Leaf than Peyton Manning.
As much potential as a player may have coming out of the draft , you never want the player to be satisfied with where they are at. This is where coaching comes in. If a team with poor coaching drafts a player with unlimited ability, that player will never reach their full potential. The amount of work we put into coaching and raising up our students matters!
I am the result of parents who took a lot of very intentional time to pour into my life. I praise God that is the case because until I was close to high school, when we got Steve as our youth pastor, I had a youth pastor who could have cared less about me.
We have a huge calling to draft and develop students who are following after Christ with all the heart, soul, mind, and body. Our students, like future NFL players, have tremendous potential to do amazing things for God, but if we as parents and youth leaders don’t harness that potential, then our students reach their full potential!
I thank God daily for parents who are invested in their students’ lives and I pray daily for the students who aren’t as lucky. I appreciate the fact that when the Green Bay Packers draft a player they already have a plan in mind to develop that player to fill the role that they drafted them to fill. I was ecstactic when the Packers picked Nick Perry to be a bookend to Clay Matthews on the defense. However, just because he ran a 4.6 40 yard dash and benched 225 lbs 35 times does not mean Perry will be successful. Coaching takes time, effort, and a plan.
How are you being intentional about drafting and coaching your students to reach their full potential?
Valentine’s Day has always been a special day for me. Every year my dad would get me flowers and have them delivered to me in class. Granted, they were carnations sold by NHS in our school, but I always looked forward to these with his heart shaped note attached. I treasured them until they were literally falling apart! I have never questioned how much my dad loves me, and partially because of little things like that. In fact, if you ask how I knew my dad loved me, probably most of my examples would be the smallest, simplest things. Like going on daddy/daughter dates, holding hands, getting breakfast at Burger King together, comforting hugs and words, or cuddling in our “thinking chair” (a giant chair that looks just like the one from Blue’s Clues, ironically). I took this same approach yesterday in my last-minute planning for Jason’s gift/card, as seen below. I printed off a pattern on some paper, made some flowers and hearts, and used my trimmings to write things I admire and love about him. I’m quite proud of my finished product, which looks much better in person.
So what does this have to do with a youth ministry blog? Well, lots to be honest. I could talk to you about making sure your students know that you love and value them. Or giving parents ideas of how they might be more intentional in this area (I found some great ideas here). I could even single out the married leaders or single leaders and address each of you. While each of those things are incredibly important, I want to take a broader point of view and talk about relationships in general.
Relationships cross a wide variety or types. There’s your relationship with God, with your parents, children, friends, siblings, spouse or significant other, co-workers, supervisors, fellow leaders, students, and the list goes on. Everyone you encounter has some type of relationship with or to you, even if it’s insignificant. In each of these relationships, it’s the little things that count. There are an innumerable amount of examples I could give you for each of these, but I’ll let you get creative and think of things yourselves.
The thing is, love should not be left only for holidays like Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Scripture is clear that it is our duty, calling, and the mark of a Christian that we love. And love isn’t haphazard or selfish in any ways. I’m still very much learning how to be selfless. When I get frustrated with those I love, I have to remind myself that love means I am all about that person, not about me. The same goes for God, your family, your friends, and your ministry. If we were truly sacrificial people, we wouldn’t care nearly as much that so-and-so said that and that person hurt you this way. Selflessness is caring less about how things affect you and more about how things affect others. And love isn’t a thing we do now and then, it needs to be characteristic of who we are as a person! For instance, God doesn’t just love, He is love. There is a big difference.
I want to leave you with this challenge. Find little things to do that make a big difference in your relationships. God does it all the time. Have you noticed? Anything and everything in this natural world is a glimmer of God telling you He loves you or communicating an aspect of Himself or our relationship with Him to you. And just like any man-made art, everyone will interpret it a little differently. So be more observant of the little things around you. Thank God for them and ask Him what He might want you to learn. One of the greatest lessons I ever learned was from single daffodil on a rainy day.
Take a hint from God and do little things for those you love – from making the bed, to making a creative gift/note (like the vase in the picture above), to taking out the trash, to leaving a note in their lunch bag or on facebook. There are literally countless little ways that go a long way to showing someone how much you care for them. My thing yesterday? Coming home to a clean house and a no-longer-squeaky door. Among many other things – it was Valentine’s Day after all! It only takes a few minutes and a little thought (or more if you’re learning how to make origami) to make someone’s day. Let’s become more intentional and selfless in our love so that it becomes part of our very nature!