I was at the ripe age of twenty three when I was asked to begin a ministry in our church for Junior High School Students. My wife and I prayed and studied to come up with a suitable name and scripture reference for the ministry. We landed on “The Freeway.” It was cool, had some road work/construction vibe to it which would lead to great decor and was simple. We also found a pretty cool scripture for it: Isaiah 35:8. We were going to start running students through scripture memory games and lessons and worship times. It was going to be great, and it was great. The biggest problem was that these student’s future wasn’t in my hands. It was in God’s and God had placed it in the hands of their parents.
I know the song: “I know who holds the future and I know who holds my hand.” It’s true that God is in control of our future but the future of the students you minister to is shaped by the parents more than by anyone. I see three ways parents help determine the future of their student.
1. Family Cycles or Schemes
A few years ago, I attended a wonderful seminar called “The Ancient Paths” in which we were taught about being delivered from some of the things in our lives that separated us from God or kept us from fully accepting His righteousness. In this seminar, they spoke of the cyclic way that generations of families tend to live. If your mom gave birth to you out of wedlock, you are most likely to give birth out of wedlock. If your father was an alcoholic, you’re likely to have a drinking problem. The list goes on. It is too obvious to ignore, but until these few sessions, I hadn’t heard it explained.
The speaker called it the “Schemes of the Enemy.” He shared how Satan doesn’t exist everywhere at once, he isn’t an all knowing god. He’s a created being like any other angel or you and I. He shared that the devil only took one third of the angels with him to hell so his resources aren’t unlimited. The way the enemy fights against the will and plan of God for mankind is by setting up schemes and letting them play out. Like the proverbial snowball effect, we live our lives as echos of the ones living before us, repeating decisions and living life in the only way we know how. The only way we’ve seen it lived.
These schemes or cycles that families live in are some of the hardest things to break. As a youth minister, how many students have you tried to help only to have them repeat the mistakes of their parents. We must encourage them to break the cycle. Help them see the scheme of Satan for what it really is and make better choices.
2. Parenting Methods and Styles
When my three year old daughter loses her mind because she doesn’t get her way it’s often comical. I don’t laugh though. I bite my lip and resist. I do this because I know that even though a three year old jumping up and down crying because she wanted a brownie instead of a carrot is hilarious and kind of cute. When a thirteen year old responds that way to not being able to go to that party, it’s not cute. It’s a problem. So instead of laughing, I train my child for the future. I tell her to go to her room until she can calm down and then she can come talk to me like “a person.” After a few minutes of screaming in her room, she usually chills out, comes out, and we talk it out. She still has to eat the carrot though.
No, I’m not a perfect parent and I slip up, but my point is that parents must raise their children for the future. We have to think ahead. Predict what the behavior they’re exhibiting now will lead them to later. A defiant five year old becomes a defiant fifteen year old if it’s not handled along the way. Parents shape and mold the attitude their child will have some day by what they let them get away with. It’s something I see more and more after almost eight years of ministry. Some of the crazy kids I saw in kids church years ago are now in my youth services. Half of them are awesome, and I love having them, and the other half, well, they shouldn’t have been given so many brownies when they were three.
(To be continued Wednesday in Mid-Week Ministry)
Author: Michael Prince
Michael Prince co-authored “What’s in Your Pocket? A parent’s guide to protecting your children online.” with his wife Melinda. They have four kids and live in an RV anywhere in the USA they see the need for an internet safety expert. Michael is leading the conversation in the American Church about family online security. He and Melinda founded BecauseFamily, a ministry that exists to inspire and equip parents to be the first influence in the lives of their children, in 2013. Michael is also a geek and loves Star Wars, Doctor Who, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and strategy board games.