Forward Motion: Parent Challenge

22 11 2011

Many of you crave forward motion in your family. You know what you want your children to be. You want them to be kind, respectful, responsible, intelligent, creative individuals. You want them to be able to succeed when they grow up and leave your home. But sometimes you look at them and you think that it may never happen.


This month, think about helping your student make one step. Think of one new thing that you would love for your child to do. Maybe it’s to improve his or her science grade, learn how to do laundry, cook a meal or change the oil in the car. Once you have decided on one goal for your child, communicate your desire to teach this skill and let your child know why it is important to learn it. Then spend time during the month helping teach your child how to accomplish the goal.


If you want your student to improve his or her science grade, sit with him and study flash cards. If you want them to know how to do laundry, do a load or two together until he or she gets the hang of it. By communicating to your child why you want him or her to know or do a certain thing, you communicate respect. By spending time helping them learn, you are letting him or her know of their importance to you. You will also alleviate your child’s fear of disappointing you if they get it wrong.


The most important thing that fuels forward motion is celebration. Make sure that you celebrate your child’s step! Tell him or her that you are proud of them for working so hard or for learning something new. When your child knows that they can make you proud, they will be much more motivated to continue working on their new goal.


Forward Motion

20 11 2011

Series Overview

We’ve all made resolutions and set goals, but too often we fall short of what we expected to accomplish. Unfortunately it’s often the same when we try to become the Christian we really believe God has called us to be. We fall short of the goal and become increasingly discouraged. In this series, your student will learn that following Christ is more about the small steps we make every day, not about the huge leaps of faith that we think we need to make. They will set a goal, determine the first step and then make it. The series will end with a celebration!

Session One (November 20, 2011)

So many times we look at our lives with great expectations, thinking we should be leaps from where we are. We expect perfection. We expect to arrive at some level. The reality is that following Christ isn’t about leaping to instant perfection. We’re walking with Him daily–a walk that involves steps, not leaps. Following Jesus Christ is about the small steps we make every day, steps of obedience, steps in relationship with Him. Sometimes those steps are small, sometimes they are big–but they are all still steps, moving us forward.

Session One Parent Cue: Following Christ is about steps, not leaps. This week your students will be introduced to the myth: that Christianity is all about taking big leaps of faith. They will encounter some of Scripture’s most daunting verses, and wrestle with what it means to have a life of consistent spiritual growth. Each student will set a goal for himself or herself, and the next few weeks they will revisit their goals. Discuss with them what you think may be some unrealistic goals you have for yourself.

Session Two (November 27, 2011)

The goal of every Christian is to become more like Jesus. But the problem comes when we think we’re going to achieve that today. It’s a lifelong journey, a process, a walk. Following Jesus is about the steps we take every day, and as Christians, we have divine help in taking those steps–the Holy Spirit. What is the step God is asking to take? What’s holding you back from taking it?

Session Two Parent Cue: The way you get from where you are to where you want to be is one step at a time. This may sound ridiculously obvious, but we all forget it. We want to go to the gym one time and look like a model; we want to make one smart comment at work and be promoted right to the top. But we know deep down that isn’t the way things work. The good news is that in our spiritual development, God has not left us alone to work out the mess. He has sent His Spirit to guide us. This week, students will look at the power of the Holy Spirit to guide their paths, and they will make a plan for beginning to take the first step toward their goals. What is an obtainable goal that you can work on achieving this week? 

Session Three (December 4, 2011)

What if you acknowledged the steps you took every day in your own “walk” with God? What if you realized that even though you may not be where you want to be, you may be exactly where God wants you to be, learning the things you need to know one step at a time? It brings a lot of freedom, doesn’t it? But not only that, what if we started celebrating not only the steps we take every day, but the steps those around us do as well? Because what may not be a big deal for you, may be huge for someone else. And all that celebration begins to turn into one big party.

Session Three Parent Cue: Celebrate the steps you take in your relationship with God, and celebrate the steps others take as well. It’s all about celebration, not the cheap kind of celebration that comes from making a big deal out of nothing, but the real party that comes naturally when we know that we have made even the slightest move in the right direction. Your students will talk this week about what it looks like to encourage each other and celebrate with each other whenever they make progress toward one of their goals. What are some specific areas of growth you have seen in your teen in the last couple of weeks, months or even year?

Imagining the End

2 11 2011

Focus your energy and effort on the issues that will make a lasting impact.

The Family Drift

By Tim Walker

My wife is the kind of person who always asks big questions—usually at times that blindside me and knock me unconscious. For example, the other day, she asked me, “What’s important for us as a family?”

Not, “What do you want for dinner?” or “Do we have money to buy the boys some shoes?” (It seems like we’re always buying shoes.)

Nope, it was “What’s important for us as a family?”

Now my first reaction was, “What? Are you kidding me?” I mean, I’m an analytical person. I think a lot—sometimes too much. But I have so much stuff I’m already thinking about that I don’t have time for a question like this. It just requires too much effort. In fact, it makes my head hurt a little bit.

But there was something about her question that wasn’t so easy to dismiss. I have a son in middle school, two more in elementary. I’m realizing every day just how quickly time is passing and I’m also realizing that there are some things I want to make sure my boys learn and know before I start losing my audience with them.

I know I have a few years before the oldest moves out, but the reality is that someday he will and it will come much faster than I think. Someday he’ll walk into adulthood. And it’s important for me to prioritize the knowledge and experiences he needs in order to move forward confidently.

That may or may not happen if we keep moving in the direction we currently are. Our schedule is crazy. Our time at home is disjointed with everyone doing his or her own thing. And the reality is that without intentionality, our family will always drift along. Our tendency will always be to drift towards disconnection and randomness. My kids are not always going to just instinctively learn things from me. Sometimes it requires me putting time and energy into helping them learn those things—whether it’s how to read the Bible, make a budget, how to do laundry or how to change a tire. Sometimes it means that I let them face some consequences that I want to save them from.

For example, we were a little reluctant on the whole cell phone thing for my middle schooler. He doesn’t really talk on the phone very much, and he really only needs a phone occasionally. So we bought him one of those pay as you go phones. He has to pay to add minutes or text time to his phone. And the phone company requires that he adds to that balance every couple of months.

One weekend, he was on a retreat with our youth group. I needed to get in touch with him so I sent him a number of text messages. We talked back and forth, and while I was talking with him, I realized that I was using up his precious minutes.

My first instinct was to be generous and maybe swoop in and buy him some more minutes. But then I caught myself. I knew that if I did that, he would expect anytime I talked with him to be reimbursed. And that was not a precedent I wanted to set. So despite my “dad saves the day” intentions, I decided to just let it go and not say a thing. I would have loved to show him generosity, he’s a great kid. But I also knew that part of what makes him great and will continue to make him great is his sense of responsibility.

So what’s most important to your family? Think about it. Take a week and marinate on that. What do you want your child to walk into adulthood with? Beyond a diploma or a scholarship, what does he or she need to know to get to where he or she needs to grow? The reality is that unless it’s on your “to do” list, it won’t happen—and even then, you are going to have to work at making it happen. I know, it shouldn’t be that way, but it is. So how are the decisions, experiences and wisdom you are giving your child preparing him or her for the future?

Imagine the end. You’ll always be a parent. You’ll always be a part of your child’s life. But there will come a time when your “parenting” will end, when he or she will be making their own choices without your guidance or input. What does your child need when they get there? What are the important things you made sure they knew or experienced along the way to arrive at that point?

It may mean that you sacrifice some time on your part. It may mean that you make your child do something that he or she complains about the whole time. But when you are intentional about imagining the end, a few years from now, you’ll feel like you’ve done what you need to do to prepare your child for adulthood. It doesn’t mean you were perfect at it, but it does mean that instead of drifting, you steered your child in the right direction.

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