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What Role Do You Play?

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. My mother might be one of the six people in the world who accidentally stumbled upon this blog in the past, so “Happy Mother’s Day Mom! You’re like a mother to me!”

Regardless, with all of this hoopla concerning honoring our mothers on this one special day, I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting. Now I’m not a parent, and my wife and I don’t plan to be for a while. As a youth pastor though, I get to deal with parents quite often. Sometimes, I deal with parents more than I want to. Other times, I get to deal with parents less than I want to. Either way, understanding parenting is something that I have strived to do since I entered ministry.

Simply put, most parents don’t play the role that they should in their child’s life. For us “traditional” Christians, who have grown up going to church and it is all that we know (such as my wife and myself), Sundays were a day that we woke up, went to church, no questions asked. In fact, most of the time, there was no argument from me. I never asked if I had to go as if it were a chore, but instead, I loved going to church because this is where my close friends were. For a lot of my friends, it was the same.

Others though, I look and wonder where the priorities lie. I’m not just talking about church attendance (although, I do believe this is essential in parenting, as well as for the children), but instead, just the role that parents play in their lives.

As I interviewed for the new position in Missouri last month, I was asked the question: What discourages you in ministry?

Like a big emotional baby, I began to get emotional as I explained how it truly breaks my heart to see some kid’s parents show no interest, not only in their lives, but in the church. There are simply too many parents who strive to be the politically correct friend to their children instead of leader and mentor.

I’ve done no research, I have no statistics, and I don’t really care what you think about my opinion, because I’m pretty sold on the fact that if parents do not raise their children with the priority to follow Christ above all else, then they are not parenting according to the Biblical model. When parents do this, then it is not their fault if their children grow up to reject church, Christ, or anything else surrounding their upbringing. People make decisions. I made the decision to follow my upbringing. Others, instead, turn their backs upon this.

Yet, I will throw this statistic out there (which is made up on the spot): I believe that 90% of the cases we see of people not in church today, even though they grew up “going to church,” is to be blamed on parenting. I look at my upbringing in the church. Again – my parents had me there. There was no choice. Sundays, there was nothing else that came before church. Wednesdays, we were there. Revivals, we were there. This is not be confused with church attendance equating the totality of our relationship with Christ, but instead, the priority that was placed upon commitment to Christ. I look at others I grew up with who were in the same boat that I found myself in.

Then, I look at others, whose parents did not fulfill the role of raising them to see the importance of commitment to the church and to Christ. Thus, my statistics come – those who were committed to church as youth because of their parents commitment to church still find themselves committed. It’s amazing – as parents actually parented their kids – and weren’t just the cool-go-to-parent, their kids are still in church, if not SERVING in a church. In fact, Thom Rainer in Essential Church has plenty of statistics to back up the role that parental involvement in the church versus students being committed to the church in adulthood plays.

While I have rambled throughout this entire post, what it all boils down to is understanding that as parents, it is YOUR role to fulfill to teach your students to follow Christ above all else. The best way to do so is by setting that example. Your child watches you.

But, when your half-hearted devotion is evident, your student will follow those footsteps, too.

As a youth pastor, I love working with students. But I am not their rock. I am not the one who trains them day in and day out the importance of Scripture. I should be the one who is reiterating what they are learning at home.

Unfortunately, the roles have changed.

What role do you play?

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