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Contrary to Popular Belief

Hello! Happy Monday to you! Grab some hot tea and sit with me for a bit. There is also a chance I might still be listening to Christmas lullabies on Pandora… It’s my happy calm music. We are into a new year and as everyone hears about new beginnings or “resolutions,” I want to take the time to mention a lifestyle change. Maybe it would even be considered more of a change in mindset.

In the years since we graduated from seminary and have worked with teenagers in church ministry and through counseling, we have noticed a major struggle. It affects the way children and teenagers grow up thinking, therefore, how they will or will not affect the world as adults. The question we must ask, “Is God everything to you?” Only when parents truly live this out and instill this mindset in their children will their children be able to own that mindset as adults and make a difference for Christ in the world.

We want great for our children; great schools, great friends, great clothes, great achievements, and to live a happy life. Of course we do, because they are our children and we love them and want what is best for them! Duh. I want my girls to be successful. If you are a teenager, of course you want to be successful. Maybe wonder where I am going with this. As parents, we have been entrusted by God for this time on earth to teach, provide, and guide these precious ones. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting success for them. It only becomes an issue when those earthly desires take priority over the spiritual.

I write a lot about things that I am learning and growing in, too, so of course I have a personal story. Jenna turned one in December and I saw on social media and at church others her age walking already. It is January and she has no interest in walking, although she could if she wanted to. I guess she figures there is no point in walking when people will just pick her up! My visceral reaction to other kids walking before her was panic and the need to give her walking lessons so she can stay on track. I am unable to post my own video of my own kid walking for the grandparents? I mean, if she is not walking yet, the next step is failing kindergarten, and maybe high school. Okay, maybe I jumped to conclusions a bit, but seriously, I had to calm it down and realize she is perfectly fine. If we get uptight about kids walking, no wonder we freak out when it comes to high school achievements and college preparation. If my mindset is not shifted, it becomes a focus on worldly success at all costs. It is a counter-culture way to think. Since all we know is what is on earth, it is difficult to keep in mind that what is eternal is all that matters.

Take a deep breath and hear me out. It is alright if your child is not valedictorian. It is okay if they do not make all-state band. It is just fine if your child does not make it to the Olympics. It is okay if your child is not in National Honor Society. It is fine if your child does not receive the lead role in the play. They are enough as they are. Celebrate when they do receive those successes but know it is okay if they do not. We are ultimately called to live a life worthy of the calling we have received from the Lord (Ephesians 4:1). How do we begin to help our children focus on Jesus? How do you as a teenager learn to make Jesus a priority in your life? Many parents give their children options as to whether to attend church functions or not, and wonder why their children are making poor choices. I can say for myself, I do not make wise choices when I am not in God’s Word or surrounding myself with Christian friends either! It is a different way to shift thinking, but where we spend time is what we value. When we attend worship at church and make sure our children stay consistently involved, is when life change will happen for them. How could we know what God would like us to do if we are not spending time with Him in our personal lives and time with Him in His house? It is the steady focus through time on Christ at home and at church that will keep us hopeful when life is tough and help us make wise decisions. As parents, we have to be certain we are living that life before our children, too. It is difficult to remember to “set our eyes on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2) when all we are familiar with is this world. People may think it is a little extreme and maybe even weird, but that is okay.

I pray my girls learn that, above all else, they are called to love God and make Him everything in their lives - before popularity and before practices. God calls us to be holy, not popular! I know! Weird! Tough concept because it is so contrary to the rest of the world. Our priority as followers of Christ IS completely contrary to the rest of the world. It is also easier said than done. It is easier to say and feel different in church than it is to live it in real life. Parents I know have had to talk to coaches and ask how to work practice around church events. These are tough situations that happen for most children and students. If it has not happened yet, it probably will. How can we impact the world for Jesus, though, if we do not live differently? How do we live in the world and not belong to it (John 15:19)? We must be different for people to see a difference. I pray my girls grow up to choose their relationship with God over earthly stuff. I pray they reflect His character even if that costs them worldly status. They are successful to me when God is pleased with them.

It is no longer It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Have a great week, y’all! I hope this gets you to thinking about where your priorities are as a teenager yourself or as a parent. It certainly challenges me to remember to Whom I owe my life. It also reminds me of my responsibility to guide my girls. I pray for peace for you and your family. I pray that God gives you boldness to live His Name to your world even when it is contrary to those around you! God bless!



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