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An Open Letter to Christian Parents

Dec 17 2016

Dear Christian parents,

i have been a follower of Jesus for over thirty years, a father for 25 years and an educator in Christian schools for 20.  It is from these experiences that I write these three points to those, who like my wife and me, want to raise the next generation of the church.Warning, like so many other issues of faith, this may be hard to hear.  It was certainly hard to learn over the last 25 years.

Point 1:  Your child is a sinner.  Period.  Jesus taught there is no one who is good.   The Psalmist tells us we were sinners at conception, and John tells us that if we say we have no sin we are liars.  Make no mistake, that applies to your kids and mine, as much as we want to think they are exceptions.  Early catechisms tell us that mankind is totally depraved.  Even our little darlings.  That means that, when they telll you how the window got broken, why they got a detention at school or "I was just holding it for a friend" we, as parents, need to keep in mind they are telling the story with their own interests, not the truth, as their primary motivation.  There's a good chance they are outright lying. I always laugh when parents tell me their kid never lies( though in recent years I've learned not to laugh out loud...most of the time).  Unless your kid was born in a manger, he or she lies.  Some do it more than others, some better than others, but please parents, for the sake of your kids and the future church, stop deifying your children.  


Point 2:  You are not your child's Savior.  This is a hard lesson to learn, especially for fathers.  While justice is the concern of all Christians, which, at its most basic level includes makings sure our children are not being mistreated, this does not mean we are to plead our children's case when they have truly been wrong.  Let Jesus be their advocate to the Father, but you need not be their advocate to teachers, youth group leaders or police officers.

  We had the privilege of doing ministry with Pastor Jack Hagar several times.  Pastor Jack spent 10 years in federal prison for trafficking drugs.  It was there he encountered Christ, and his message now is, "If you're old enough to do the crime, you're old enough to do the time." It is not abusive for a child to pay for the window they broke, apologize to the neighbor for hitting their house with the kickball or stay after school for being disruptive in class.  The Proverbs are full of references to disciplining foolish and/ or rebellious children.These consequences are the best teachable moments your child will ever have.


Point 3:  You are your child's protector...sort of:  Yes, parents have the responsibility to protect their children.  However, we need to always remember that we are never better than second best in this role.  God is their real protector.  When, for example, our 12 year old daughter, Rose, felt called to an inner city ministry trip to the Bronx, we looked into the group she was going with, advised her on always listening to the leaders, but we also let her go.  When our oldest was 17 and about to start her senior year she spent the month of September in an orphanage in Kenya instead of the security of her Christian high school classroom.  But we didn't just ship her off to Africa until we met the lady she would be traveling with and did other reasonable research into her safety.  When our middle daughter, Naomi, did her college internship in Spanish Harlem, we felt a lot better when we visited her program there.  We were very proud of how well she had learned to navigated the streets of that neighborhood, and all three of these examples showed us that God is an infinitely better protector than we could ever be.   To paraphrase Mark Batterson, we need to raise our kids believing there's more to life than to simply arrive safely at death.

Parents, we have the single most important ministry God could give us.  Let's make sure we do it with a sound understanding of what Scripture -not pop culture, the extended family or our own insecurities -tells us is true. And please let's  pray for each other.

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