Thursday, February 7, 2013
The best parenting article I have ever read
Last week I received my monthly Joyce Meyer magazine in the mail. I love reading her articles. (I love seeing her in person better!) I saw on the front cover that Ron Luce was a contributing author this month and I jumped to find his article. If you don't know who Ron Luce is, he is the founder of Teen Mania Ministries based out of Texas. Over our years in youth ministry we have used many of his books, study materials, and gone to his Acquire the Fire conferences for teens. We have gleaned so much over the years from his knowledge and passion for youth! You can imagine why I was so excited to read his article.
I am going to write it verbatim because it is just that good. Wow. Just. Wow.
I had tears in my eyes while reading this and was reminded again just how important my job as a parent is. The sleepless nights, continual prayers, cooking dinners, playing on the floor, reading the Bible together, having serious talks when Sitora asks me questions, having a family-only day, putting God and family before anything else- it. is. all. worth. it.
Building a Counter-Culture for Your Kids
Take Steps now to ensure their lifelong freedom
By Ron Luce
Our job as parents is not just to fight the culture... but it's also to teach our kids to see through its shallowness and the motives of those who shape it. Our real defense is to build a strong, defining culture in our families that pulls the hearts of our kids toward the things of God and keeps them looking to us to shape their values.
As your children grow into teenagers, you want them to have a strong foundation so that you're not later struggling to pull them out of the pit of hell... surviving with your family barely intact. It is imperative for you to start actively working with your children at the very youngest age to create a family culture that builds stability, sets expectations, and ensures security in their hearts.
What We Didn't Want- Early on, my wife, Katie, and I started the groundwork of keeping the world's culture from claiming our kids' hearts. In fact, our children were pre-kindergarten at the time. We worked to build a healthy foundation for our family so that we could preclude many of the challenges we witnessed other people experiencing with their teenagers.
Traveling every weekend, year after year, and seeing other people's teens hurting and broken showed us what we didn't want our kids to become. So as you seek to be parents who protect your children, I encourage you to take a look around you and be aware of cultural influences that can totally wreck a young life.
Parenting was never supposed to be easy. No one ever called it simple, effortless, or painless. Today, it's extremely common for parents to leave their children to the remote control because they have all sorts of "electronic babysitters" available to occupy their time. We can say that it really doesn't affect our kids. But if they're still in the process of growing up, how can we be sure?
Invest Early for Long-Term Dividends- It is undeniable: As a parent, you will sacrifice something. You can choose to sacrifice up front- things like time, sleep, career and hobbies- while your kids are small. And if you do, I guarantee that you will also reap joy and delight as they grow up. You will gain a lifetime of intimately knowing them and the privilege of helping them grow into seasoned, productive, godly adults.
If you don't sacrifice up front, you will sacrifice later. And remember this: Your kids will be adults a lot longer than they will be young children. Sacrificing up front to spend the needed time with your kids in order to raise them well will protect them from lifelong sacrifice.
You can protect your kids from the disaster of being shaped by a confused generation of adults selling media, but it will take deliberation. It will require emotional and mental engagement with your kids, starting when they are at a very young age. You are the only one who can do it. You are the only person who can deposit your values into them. You're the one who has the opportunity to take them on hikes, walks and campouts; you can have long talks with them about your family history and about what the future holds.
Raising the Dream Child- My encouragement for you now as a parent is to dream a dream for your kids. What kind of child do you want to see standing before you when he or she is 21 or 22? For example, do you want them to save their virginity for marriage? Do you want them to be pure in heart and mind? Do you want them to be active in their church? Do you want them to make an eternal contribution to the kingdom of God and into the lives of people around the world?
You may be thinking, But Ron, my kids have already gotten off to a bad start. Is it too late? It's never too late to invest in your children! Simply do your best from this point forward, and believe God to redeem any time that's been lost.
It is our choice as parents to determine what kind of young people we want and what it will take to produce them. If you sacrifice now, you'll reap a blessing for the rest of your life... and the world will never be the same.
Merely giving birth does not make you a parent. However, sacrificing while your children are small, laying down your "deserved" freedoms, and deeply thinking about how you're shaping your children will ensure their lifelong freedom from the chains of slavery to our culture. It's work, and it's called loving your children. It's called being a parent.