A fellow Student Pastor often says, "No one can love a kid in your youth group better than their parent."
Theoretically, I absolutely agree - without any hesitation! The parent is the key influencer in the life of her or his child through adulthood. This core principle is the bedrock of my personal philosophy of ministry, and one in which I have continued to harp to my parents, staff, and volunteer leaders (along with anyone else who would listen).
In fact, I agree with this statement so much that I've adopted the Orange philosophy of Family Ministry for our teenagers. This philosophy places the locus of ongoing, daily faith formation into the hands of the parent. If this is the first time you are reading about Orange, then stop reading right now and click on the link above to research it. You may also read some of my previous posts about the Orange philosophy and curriculum by visiting my Archives page.
As much as I believe in this, however, I must confess that I did not fully understood the ramifications of it personally until I witnessed the birth of my first child, Hannah Grace, on January 27, 2014.
From the moment I saw the first hairs on her head as she made her first appearance into the world, my heart absolutely broke in a way that I never thought it could. Even at 29, I feel my heart hardened toward my former idealism. But as soon as Hannah caught my eyes, I felt overwhelmed by the emotions of becoming a new dad. I felt as though the next several years of her life - who she might become, what she might accomplish, who she might love - flashed through my mind in an instant, and all of a sudden my friend's words came to life.
No one would love this girl more than her mama and me.
As a Student Pastor, I felt like my world clicked clearer into focus. I'm responsible for my daughter and what she becomes in these early years of life. I'm tasked with the privilege of raising in her in faith so that when she's older, she won't depart from it.
Likewise, the parents of my students and yours are tasked with the same charge from God.
People like you and me simply get to participate in their journey. Sure, I may a play significant role in their faith formation. I certainly provide them with the tools that I think will be necessary to become a faithful disciple of Jesus in high school.
But I am not the sole person, nor am I the most important. I am only one person of many who play a supporting role to the person who should be loving them and equipping them best: their parents.
Therefore, Student Pastors, honor your parents, pray for them, and as much as they let you while upholding their dignity and responsibility, equip them to become better agents of spiritual formation for their kid.
And parents, embrace your role, take confidence in your role, and make sure that you know how to feed yourself so that in turn, you can feed your kids.
Remember also that you are not alone. We are here for you... and when you become grandparents, remind people like me to do the same. Be gracious on Student Pastors like me who may at times come across arrogant, over-bearing, or too rigid. We love you and your student, and we want to see them love Jesus more than anything else in the world.
Prayers on you - whether you've been a parent for only 4 days or 40 years.
QUESTION: What parent do you need to thank, seek forgiveness, or invest more into?