Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Shepherding" Chapter 19: Teenagers - Training Procedures

Every Christian parent wants their children to have their own dynamic faith in Christ. This requires, most of all, the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of their children. But it also requires parents to labor intensely, and to have a hope in the power of the Gospel. Parenting is not easy, but I think that God desires it to be that way, so that we will be driven to depend on Him.

Having a shepherding relationship with teenagers necessitates that you have successfully navigated the first two stages of the child's life (authority is established, character is developed). A key thing to recognize is that over time parental authority decreases and parental influence increases. What does that look like? Here are some key areas and thoughts:
  • Shepherd your children through their doubts. Help them get resources, share your own experiences of doubting your faith, and expose them to other Christians who are living out their faith.
  • Give them positive interaction. We must allow them to fail and deal with consequences, but we must never belittle them with destructive speech. "Pleasant words promote instruction" (Proverbs 16:21; see also verse 24).
  • Be sensitive to timing. When they are ready to talk, we must be prepared to engage them.
  • Allow room for disagreement. We need to differentiate between Scriptural instruction and personal taste.
Ultimately, we must entrust our children to God. "God intends for parenting to be a temporary task." Our Lord loves our children more than we can ever love them, and He proved that by sending His Son to die for and redeem us from our sin. While we must labor with a hope in the Gospel, we also need to cry out for God's mercy.

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