Parental Guidance (Part Three, by Pastor Chris Ranson)

This morning is the third and final message for this series, Parental Guidance. We have been encouraged these past 2 weeks, to know that the church is here to help us be the parents and grandparents we're called to be – and that we don't have to do this alone.
But what I plan to share with you all this morning is going to be less about my role as a dad and student pastor (because I'm still figuring this out myself), but it will be more about:
1. Gleaning from scripture and God’s example of what a parent is called to be
2. Offering practical advice and insights I’ve learned from the researchers at the reThink group, people who love kids and students.

Every adult here matters in what I'll speak about today (whether you're a parent or not), because we all have the opportunity to influence the heart and faith of a child— whether you're 25 or 85. Amen?

Every parent wrestles with how to create boundaries without forfeiting the relationship with their kids. It takes a lot of practice knowing when to hold on, and when to let go. And unfortunately, the amount of hours a parent has left to invest in their kids relationally reduces drastically with every passing stage. The window of time closes fast, reminding us that we're not really raising children... as much as we are preparing them to be men and women who love the Lord and to be successful at life.

Here's a familiar verse:
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6, NKJV).

Our positional influence as their parents decreases overtime, but if we make the most of our time with them while they're growing, our relational influence increases.
• As preschoolers, they need us to embrace them, to establish physical trust.
• During the elementary years, parents should take a crash course in storytelling and play.
• When they get to middle school, parents need to master the skill of never freaking out so that we can Affirm their personal journey.
• And at 9th grade, parents start mastering the art of negotiating.

BEING A PARENT TODAY IS TOUGH—it's full of tough choices and new situations. In a rapidly changing world, how can we parent or lead them in a way that will cause them to love Christ deeply and live for Him?

But while parenting is tough, we can do what we need to do simply because God is faithful. He is faithful. We say that not only because He has been there and hasn't let us down – but also because He doesn't change. We do, but He doesn't.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8, NIV).

God doesn't change,  because He's perfect in every way, helping each of us to train children to be strong in their faith, and successful in this life.

While being a parent today is tough, being a kid in today's world, is even tougher! Counselors report a rapidly growing epidemic of depression in teens. Without getting into the why things are changing, it's important to recognize they are changing. This morning, whether you're a parent or grandparent, or you have no kids, please listen closely to what I share with you.

• Because if you have children or  grandchildren, you'll hear things that maybe it's not the first time hearing it... but you'll quickly see opportunity to apply the things you hear to your own family.
• And if you have no kids, you may just need to hear today's message because, whether you're 25 or 85, perhaps the Lord has called you to influence the life of a child in another way (i.e., kids/student ministry, or in your own neighborhood or vocation).
• And if you have no kids because you're  still a kid yourself, well... you need to understand what your parents are trying to do in raising you up, and learn how to cooperate with them and help make their parenting the joy it is meant to be!

As parents, we may not get a manual on how to raise our kids, but we do have the Bible, the eternally anointed Word of God.

Pastor read a passage of text from Deut. 6 two weeks ago I want us to revisit:
5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:5-9, NIV).

The word “impress” in v. 7 is an interesting word. The NLT says “repeat again and again” as if Moses is saying don't just mention God to your kids... but actually help them learn about Him. He's saying impress on them the importance of knowing God, His faithfulness, and what He calls us to do with our lives.

Children can be influenced by the adults in their lives, to know Christ. But the influence a parent has in a child's life (even as a faith influencer) is far greater! And so, what happens at home is more important than what happens at church.

What motivates the kids/teens in your life?

• Preschoolers are primarily motivated by safety.

• Elementary-age kids are primarily motivated by fun.

• Middle Schoolers are primarily motivated by acceptance.

• High Schoolers are primarily motivated by freedom.


The kids in your life - how do they think?

• PRESCHOOLERS think like an Artist.
• ELEMENTARY-AGE KIDS think like a Scientist.
• MIDDLE SCHOOLERS think like an Engineer.
• HIGH SCHOOLERS think like a Philosopher.

It's also important that we understand the cultural changes they're going through at each phase. At each change, they're asking key questions that we can help them answer.

Preschoolers are asking “Am I...?” questions:
• Am I Safe?
• Am I Able?
• Am I Okay?

Elementary-age Kids are asking “Do I Have...?” questions:
• Do I have your attention?
• Do I have what it takes?
• Do I have friends?

Middle Schoolers are asking “Who...?” questions:
• Who do I like? And who likes me?
• Who am I?

High Schoolers are asking “Where, Why, How, and What...?” questions:
• Where do I belong?
• Why should I believe? Why can't I?
• How can I matter?
• What will I do? 

9 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him (Matt. 7:9-11, NLT).