In my blog two weeks ago, I focused on the fundamental theme that parents must be the primary spiritual mentors for their children, even if their kids are in a solid youth group and Christian school. At the risk of stepping on some toes, I want to continue this theme by sharing the words of a youth pastor who relates his observations about the vital need for dads to be the leaders in this spiritual mentoring process. I will make some qualifying comments at the end of the blog to hopefully encourage our single parent moms who are facing the challenge of raising their children without a father figure in the home. But, dads, please take special note of this youth pastor’s observations.
If living out the faith is not important to you, your kids will notice this, and learn from it. I am a youth group leader in an evangelical church in a Southern state and I can absolutely attest to this.
In my youth group, there are roughly three different types of teens: those who have both parents active and involved in the church; those who have one parent (always the mom) involved with one parent indifferent/apathetic (always the dad); and those who come on their own and have no parents involved.
The first and third groups are some of the finest young people I have ever met. They are committed to living out Christian principles, they love the Lord with all of their heart and they engage in outreach — several of those students have started bible study clubs in their schools. They give me a sliver of hope for revival in this generation. The first group sees their parents living out an authentic faith and emulates it. The third group has grown up in broken homes with broken lives (their stories will absolutely crush you) and they cling to the life raft that authentic faith provides.
The second group — where one parent is going through the motions — are the most indifferent teens I have ever seen. There is nothing I can do to engage them on a spiritual level. They’ll play games with our group and eat our food, but they mentally check out as soon as any teaching begins. Dad is telling them to “live as I say, not as I do” and it is working about as well as you would expect. For this group, church is something to be endured, a box to be checked and it has no impact on their lives or their thinking.
… every time a parent sends their kid to me just to relieve their guilt about not actually going to church themselves, I sigh and mentally groan. They’re just asking me to do a job they won’t do themselves and it never works out. Never.
You may access the entire blog from which the above is taken by clicking here.
While I suspect there may be some over-generalizations in this youth pastor’s comments, I think he really nails the point that we as parents (and especially dads) must be the primary spiritual mentors for our children by “walking the walk” as role models and also proactively cultivating relationships with our children in spite of all the busy demands of our schedules. Nothing can be more important for us in the context of our parenting.
Single moms may feel a bit left out by what is said above. But I appreciate a number of local examples of single mom families where, in their local faith community, these moms have proactively identified men who can spend time with their children as “significant others” in providing some of the male influence that can make such a difference in their lives. In a healthy local church community, single moms should not have to face parenting alone, but should have the support of others willing to come alongside to help.
Regardless of our individual circumstances, let us recognize the larger truth of what this youth pastor has observed, and let us cry out to God to help us as parents provide the spiritual mentoring in a relational context that is so essential for our children!