The chant was standard fare back when I was in high school, and it would reverberate through the gym several times a game as we cheered on our teammates running up and down the court. “WE DON’T MESS AROUND, HEY! WE DON’T MESS AROUND, HEY! . . . ” It was our way of saying that our guys were serious about basketball and there was going to be no letting down as long as the clock kept ticking.
That chant came to mind this morning as I read a post from my friend Jason Engle, a youth pastor who also serves as one of our CPYU Research Fellows. Jason is a guy who doesn’t mess around. He is passionate about Christ, the Christian faith, students, and families. He knows that the clock is ticking on the time we have with each student, along with the time that we, as parents, have with our kids. Jason isn’t lazy. And in his post he lovingly and straightforwardly encourages parents to avoid laziness as well.
Today, with Jason’s permission, I want to share his words of encouragement to parents. If you’re a parent, his words are for you. If you’re a youthworker, think about Jason’s words and how they might spur you on as well. . . not only in your ministry to students, but in your ministry to their parents. This is at the core of what we’re about here at CPYU, and we want to encourage and resource you as you encourage and resource parents.
Here’s Jason’s post. . .
[Christian] Parents, are you increasingly anxious about the culture/world in which your children live? Do you feel increasingly helpless, searching for what you can/should do? Here is THE answer:
𝐄𝐦𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐆𝐨𝐝-𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐫𝐨𝐥𝐞 𝐚𝐬 𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐢𝐧𝐟𝐥𝐮𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐢𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐭𝐨𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐥 𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲.
Disciple them intentionally. Disciple them deeply. Immerse them in Jesus and in the gospel. Immerse them in the Bible and in the Big Story of God. Help them develop a gospel lens for understanding and walking in wisdom, in alignment with that Big Story. Lead them to know the reality and durability of the gospel as God’s indestructible plan.
Don’t shy away from difficult topics about which they have real questions. Lead them in considering all things through the paradigm of God’s Story (Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation).
YOU do this.
YOU take the lead.
YOU STILL have THE greatest influence in the life/lives of your child(ren). YOU spend the most time with them. YOU have the greatest role in shaping their time and how it’s spent. YOUR life is the one they will more than likely follow and emulate. YOU are (or at least you SHOULD be) the one with the authority to shape your family’s calendar/finances/decisions/goals/rhythms/values/etc. Step up, embrace, and embody that God-given authority and honor God with your stewardship of it.
In order to do this, though, you must…
1. Press deeply into Jesus and pursue spiritual maturity yourself.
2. Make sure that your heart and its affections are rightly ordered.
3. Seek to know God through disciplined, continuous study of his Word and through abiding in his presence.
4. Walk intentionally with other believers for the sake of pressing each other more deeply into Jesus and into spiritual maturity.
5. Live out meaningful membership within a solid and discipleship-intentional local covenant body of believers.
6. READ!!! Seek knowledge and never stop being a student/learner (about theology, the gospel, the culture, your child(ren)’s generation, etc…)
The truth is, parents, you ARE discipling your child(ren). Right now. All the time. They ARE following you. Parenting is a sacred vocation and stewardship given to us by God. We will stand before him one day accountable. How is your influence actively forming their hearts and lives? What are they reflecting about what you are declaring with your lives about what is supreme, what is true, and what is really real and worthy of devotion?
I am confronted and convicted by these thoughts even as I write them for others to consider.
Nope, I’m not playing around in this post. But neither is the world with your children. And neither is our enemy—with your heart or your children’s hearts.
We need to be sober-minded. We need to be on offense, rather than perpetually playing defense—FOR the hearts of our children in light of the reality of God and his Kingdom. We need to be willing to bear the reproach of Christ when our family doesn’t “fit in.” We need to be willing to lay down our pursuit of (temporary) happiness (and that of our children) for the sake of finding true eternal joy in the only source that can provide it.
We need to stop being wracked by anxiety (or fear or anger or apathy or ignorance) and cast our eyes on the One who is omniscient (all-knowing/wise), omnipotent (all-powerful to do all that he wills to do), sovereign, and good! We need not to just believe 𝒊𝒏 him, but to 𝒃𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒆𝒗𝒆 𝒉𝒊𝒎—take him at his Word—that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3ff)!
What kids need most from their parents is 𝐍𝐎𝐓 to champion their dreams or do all they can to assure their happiness. They don’t most need their parents to spew their opinions to them about everything happening in the world in hopes that they too will adopt their ideologies. They don’t need parents to tirelessly make sure that they are accepted (or loved/celebrated/noticed/esteemed) by the world around them or that they are perpetually comfortable.
Children most need their parents to shepherd their hearts to know and treasure Jesus as preeminent and supreme. They most need their parents to continuously point their hearts to the reality of a living hope that can only be found in Jesus. They need parents to LEAD them in denying self, taking up the cross of Christ, and following Jesus into the eternal hope that is only found in walking in his Way.
Want to know what you can do in the midst of this world that seems to be going crazy? Do that . Every day.
I love you, parents. Enough to sometimes not play around and hit it square on. I’m praying for you today.
Thank you Jason.
If you are a youth worker or parent looking for resources to foster biblically-faithful whole-life Christian discipleship in your church and home, I encourage you to check out all our resources at CPYU. Our brand-new website is home to an always-growing host of resources to help you nurture your kids in the faith in the midst of a rapidly-changing youth culture. Subscribe to our monthly CPYU Parent Page. Check our growing archive of FREE Family TableTalk Devotionals. Check our our newest weekly resource, our FREE CPYU Parent Prompts on faith and culture. And be sure to subscribe and listen to our daily 1-minute Youth Culture Today podcast.!