Not That Into You: Imagining the End

30 07 2012

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Leaving Home: 5 Things I Want My Children to Take With Them

By Reggie Joiner


A few years ago my daughter Hannah, who was 20 at the time, moved out of my home. She moved into a house with a few other girls. It was one of those things I knew was coming, but I just didn’t know it was going to happen as fast as it did. She had been talking about it for a while, but one afternoon when I got home, everything was gone—well, the things she wanted to take were gone. She left the things she didn’t want.

I remember looking around and, as a dad, it was kind of a sad moment. I remember thinking this may be it. She may never be back in my house again. She may never move back. It created a little controversy in our house when it happened. One of the issues was with her eighteen-year-old sister who came to me very upset. At first, I thought she was upset because Hannah had moved. But I quickly found out that it had nothing to do with Hannah—all the curling irons in the house were gone.

I started looking around at the things Hannah had taken and the things she had left. Do you know what determined what she left and what she took? Simple. She took the things that were important to her and left the things that weren’t. Trust me, when I figured that out, I really started looking around—I wanted to make sure she took a picture of the family and me! But the bottom line was, what mattered to her was gone—with her—and what didn’t matter was left behind.

I had to keep telling myself, “Okay, she is twenty, she is on her own, she is in a house”. And as I went over it again and again in my head, late one night, I took out my notebook and I started writing. She was out of my house and doing her own thing. She was an adult and she was moving forward. So how do I pray for her how? I wrote down five things. And these are the five things I want to pray for all of my children. These are five things I want for all my children’s lives. But that night I prayed this for Hannah:

1) That she will keep moving in a direction towards God. That is the end goal. At the end of it all, I just want to make sure that whatever happens in her life, she just keeps moving in a direction towards God.

2) That she will have an ongoing relationship with God’s Truth—that the value of Scripture and the value of God’s Truth will not dim in her life. I want the message to ring so loud and clear in the hearts of my children that they never get away from the power of God’s truth in their lives.

3) That she will have the right people in her life to challenge her and inspire her. This makes me nervous. This is what keeps me up at night. Besides her mom and me, I just want to make sure there are other adults, other friends, other people who will continue to challenge her and inspire her in her walk and her faith, because I know how important that is. That is community.

4) That we will still be friends. When it is said and done, isn’t that what every parent wants? Let’s be honest. Isn’t your dream that when your children grow up and move away that you are still good friends and still in relationship with them? Absolutely. I still want to have a degree of influence in her life. I still want to be her friend. I still want her to be friends with her mom, friends with her sisters and brother. I still want all that to stay in tact. I want that to be a value in her life that she never gets away from. From her graduation from college, to her wedding day, to when she has kids—I want all of that to be intact and all of that to be right. That is family.

I wrote down one other thing that I pray for.

5) That she will never get away from her sense of mission to be the church. I want her to know that she is wired, that she is created, that God designed her to be the church. I pray that her influence in whatever circle she lives in will be the kind of influence that God has designed her to have. I don’t want her faith to be tied to a place where she goes. Rather, I want her faith to pour into every area of life and every person she encounters. I pray that her significance will come not from what she is doing but from the fact that she knows she is doing the thing God called her to do, and that sense of purpose will always be a part of her life.

Those are five things I want to be really true of her life, and true of the lives of all my children. This, for me, is the essence of what a life needs to become, it’s what I want to move my children towards. And it’s not only how I pray, but the grid through which I process my actions and words to make these things a reality in her life.

These five things may not be a tangible object that Hannah or any of my other kids can pick up and pack up, but they are the things I want them to take with them—no matter how close or far from home they live.


Reggie Joiner is the founder and CEO of The reThink Group, and the author of Think Orange

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Not That Into You

22 07 2012

Series Overview

Every one of us has experienced it at some point. At one time, we were really into a relationship—whether that’s a friendship or a dating relationship—and now, well, not so much. We’re just not that into it anymore. So we walk away or we let the relationship die. But what happens when that relationship you’re not that into anymore is the one you have with God? You were really into Him at one point. You were feeling connected, directed, close. Now it feels like nothing. How do you deal with it?

Session One: The Breakup? (July 22, 2012)

There is a natural ebb and flow to our relationships, isn’t there? There are times when we feel really close to someone, and times when we don’t. The reasons vary, but there are times when we’re just not feeling that into a relationship. It’s true of our friendships and other relationships, but what happens when it happens in our relationship with God? And when it does, why is it so difficult to admit it?

Session One Parent Cue: Describe a time when you felt really close to God. Now, describe a time when you felt really distant from Him. 

Session Two: Fight for Me (July 29, 2012)

When you’re not that into a relationship, you have a choice—to stay or to go. God has made it very clear in the Bible that He’s not going anywhere. He’s in. But we’re the ones who struggle with the choice, and that struggle sometimes involves fighting our own feelings and perceptions. It’s a fight that we have to be willing to take on, and a decision each of us has to make. And while it may feel like it, it’s not one-sided, God isn’t going anywhere. So are you going to fight your own tendencies to pull away? Are you going to fight for your relationship with God?

Session Two Parent Cue: Have you ever been tempted to walk away from God? What made you come back to Him . . . or walk away? 

Session Three: Do You Know Me? (August 12, 2012)

So you decided to fight, to stay in your relationship with God even though you’re feeling not that into Him. And for some of you, you’ve already seen a big change. There’s a new connection. There’s excitement. But for others, you’re fighting and nothing’s happening. You’re working, but you’re not getting anything in return. So what’s the problem? It may be that “me” is getting in the way, that your focus is on you. And in the process, you have made God very small, boring and predictable—a God you think you know, but One who is actually so much bigger than us.

Session Three Parent Cue: What are some things you’ve learned about God in your relationship with Him? Search online for “names of God” and go through the list and identify specific ways you’ve “experienced” those names. For example, one of the names of God means “provider.” How have you seen God provide in your life? 

The Way I See It

1 07 2012

Series Overview

What will they think of me? Will I look stupid? I don’t need to waste my time; I have too much to do. These are a few of the questions from a student who won’t want to go on your small-group service project. At the heart of each of these excuses is a heavy dose of selfishness. Students are at the most selfish stage of life – that has been clinically proven – and, to mature and grow, they have to learn to put others first. The challenge is that they cannot appreciate how serving others will radically change their point of view until they have done it.  So, this month, we want to beg, blackmail and bribe our students to engage in service – because, once they have done it, they will see the world in a different light. They have to move beyond their egocentric worldview and begin seeing other people’s worth on par with their own. So, for the next 3 weeks, we are going to look at the world “The way I see it.”

Session 1 (July 1, 2012)

There are some things that you just can’t understand until you experience it for the first time. The thrill of standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, skydiving, or even becoming a parent for the first time. It might sound weird, but being a servant falls into this category as well.  We can talk to our students about the importance of being a servant, participating in a service project, or going on a mission trip, but until they do it, they can’t know what it is like.  You have to experience being a servant to see how it changes your world and the world around you.  Jesus knew this and that is why he put servanthood into action. By washing his disciples feet in John 13, Jesus set the ultimate example of being a servant.  You can tell others the importance of being a servant, but it isn’t until you begin serving that they truly see the impact.  We want our students to understand the importance of serving, and so we are encouraging them to find a place to serve right now.

Talk to your student about a time in your life when an experience changed your understanding. Ask your student if there is a place where your family can begin to serve together.

Session 2 (July 8, 2012)

Our students live in a world where it is acceptable to think only about themselves.  Often their friendships are subtly based on the question, “What is in it for me?”  It could be popularity or access to a lake house, but there is almost always a selfish motive behind many of our actions.  We want to challenge our students to begin changing their perspective.  We have talked in the past about how our students have influence in the lives of their friends, and now we want our students to realize that they need to be serving their friends.  This is a new idea that can be scary.  It might change some relationships, and it will give our students an opportunity to share their faith.  We want our students to start putting the needs of their friends before their own because relationships that are based on servant hood are the relationships that last the longest.

Talk to your student about the importance of being a person who is always giving rather than always asking. Ask your student who they can serve this week.

Session 3 (July 15, 2012)

Serving others is not an easy thing to do, and it is even harder when you talk about serving someone in authority.  Whether it is a parent, teacher or coach, we want our students to know that serving authority means going the extra mile.  At first, this principle sounds ridiculous.  Why should I have do to extra work?  We want to emphasize to our students that going the extra mile is part of being a servant, and it is one of the best ways to illustrate the love of God.  It might not always be the most fun thing to do, but by going the extra mile now with authorities we will gain more trust in the future.

Talk to your student about a time when you have seen them go the extra mile for you, and what it meant to you.  Ask your student what going the extra mile will look like in their life this week.