Recently, Abby and I became parents. You can read about the new arrival to our family here. Her name is Lynlee Jewel Evans, and she is the cutest little baby that I have EVER seen! I never thought it was possible to love a little baby this much. Abby and I cannot get over the fact that God allowed us to parent this little baby! We are so blessed.
When I write or speak about parenting, I always feel inadequate. The reason is I do not have any teenagers of my own. I feel like everyone who reads throws out what I say about parenting, because of the fact that I do not have any teens of my own. Then, I stop and think. God has CALLED me to do what I do, student ministry. Therefore because of His call on my life, He will equip me to do whatever it takes. I think we all know that one of the largest ministries is not necessarily the students, but the parents. It is as much our call to help train the parents as the students! One thing the Lord always brings to my mind when I begin to feel inadequate is the fact that I have some pretty awesome parents. My parents were great. I felt they had a good balance with me growing up.
I want to share a couple of things that I am beginning to do with Lynlee (some, I will do eventually) that I believe will help her in the long run. After all, this is a marathon, not a sprint. I want her to not depart from the relationship with God that I am trying to teach her about!
- Pray with your kids – Notice I did not say pray FOR your kids, but pray WITH your kids. There is a major difference. Now, obviously, you should pray for your kids in your own time, but it is equally as important in my opinion to pray with your kids. My wife and I started the first night in the hospital a tradition that I hope to continue as long as I am living. We prayed with Lynlee. We have not missed a night yet and I pray with the help of God, we never miss a night. I want my daughter to feel comfortable around her parents as they share their desires for her life to an Almighty God who hears them. I also want to teach her that God hears us when we pray. Lynlee has been real good and quiet while we pray which has been helpful :)!
- Do Devotions with your kids – This is where the teaching comes in. It is the parents job to teach and train the kids. It is not the children’s director or the youth pastor to do this. Those roles should help and direct, but they are not the primary teachers of the kids. The parents are! I cannot wait to start devotions with my daughter. It is going to be great! I want to teach her God’s Word, because after all, that is all that matters. Also, it is the Word that will get them through the most difficult time so why do we not share the Word with our kids more? It might be because we do not feel comfortable or adequate. That is okay, remember, it is okay to sometimes not know all of the answers in front of our kids.
- Spend time with your kids – This is an obvious, but oftentimes neglected one. Now, obviously I spend time with my daughter now, but I pray that I spend tons of time with her when she gets older too. When you are at home, you should be focused on time with your family. Leave the work at work sometimes, and come home just to spend time with your family.
- Show affection for your spouse in front of your kids – Your kids need to see a secure relationship between their parents.
- Make church and student ministry a priority – This is something that I am shocked to see today. When I was growing up, church and youth group was not an option for me. Today, even good church families make church and youth group an option. If the kids want to go, they go, but if not, they can do their own thing. Be careful what messages you are sending your kids when you do this. Surround them around the Word of God being taught.
- Your kids make mistakes – One thing I see a lot of is the mindset from parents: “My kids are perfect.” Now, they might not come out and say it, but their actions back up this type of thinking. I see it a lot in the school that we have associated with our church. Parents, none of us want our kids to fail, and believe me, I can already tell it is going to be difficult to ever admit my kid is wrong, but when my kid is wrong, she is wrong! We as parents must learn to admit this.
- Serve with your kids – When my daughter gets older, I want her to see that I have put my life into the ministry of the local church! I want her to understand that the mission of the local church is the mission of Jesus, and should be the mission of our life! Make sure they are serving at a young age. Find something for them to do. Also, parent, make sure you are serving as well.
- Know your kids friends & their families – It is important that you know who is influencing your kids. I know you cannot monitor every bit of this, but you can monitor it somewhat effectively.
- Monitor their social networks – If your kids are into social networking (which they probably are or will be), you have a right as a parent to monitor it. Whoa, this is a tough one! I understand your kid will be mad, but trust me on this one, you need too. I see a lot of nonsense on students’ facebook profiles and myspace profiles that parents would flip if they saw. Social networking is a good indicator of where someone is at spiritually!
- Admit failure with your kids – If you fail in front of your kids, do not be afraid to admit you are wrong! They need to see this side of you. We live in a day where kids desire transparency so be transparent!