This is a picture of my daughter, Natalie. As my oldest child, she’s part trailblazer and part child-rearing experiment. That is, she is, in many ways, a trailblazer in that she is setting the pace for her three younger brothers. Where she is, they will one day go (except where her mother and I really goofed… which is what I meant when I said she is also an “experiment” in child-rearing).
Suzanne and I have done our best (at least, most of the time) to bring her up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). We have tried to cultivate a Christian atmosphere and culture in our home. We try to model what we pass on to her and her brothers. We educate her at home so that, in addition to what we believe to be an excellent “academic” education, we might also pass along our worldview, values, etc., to her. This year we also started sending her to a classical Christian tutorial called, Providence Extension Program, which she truly loves and which her mother and I thank God for daily. Add to that Bible studies, active church participation, Christian small groups, Christian friendships, etc., etc. etc.
The point of mentioning all of that is not to pat Suzanne and myself on the back (as much as it may seem that’s what I’m going for). Instead, my purpose in sharing that is to say that we have done our best to be intentional in raising our daughter for Christ and his Kingdom. And… it’s with a lump in my throat that I share with you that in two-and-a-half months, my precious daughter will turn into a….. TEENAGER!!!! And the truth is… I’m completely at peace. Here’s why…
Despite racing hormones, peer pressures, etc., I do not think it’s axiomatic that teenagers must rebel against their parents. If I had a dollar for every parent who has come up to me and said, “You just wait until she’s a teenager.” It’s as though there’s some irresistable gravitational power that forces every teenager, against their will, to rebel against mom, dad, and every other authority figure there is. But I don’t buy that. Never have. I know that there are plenty of kids who have. But I also know many who did not and are not. I don’t think its required. I could speculate as to why I so often receive such comments from other parents, but I’ll let that go… for now.
Let me also quickly add that I don’t believe that because Natalie has been in a lot of Bible studies and raised in a Christian home that she will, therefore, not rebel. The way we are raising our children is not some sort of magical incantation that will guarantee that we will be exempt from rebellion in our home. The Lord knows how many Christian families struggle with such things every day.
All of this rambling is to set the context for this statement: This is an exciting time to be a Christian parent and a Christian teenager. There are so many resources out there to help educate, equip, and encourage our Christian teenagers that it staggers my imagination and thrills my soul. Because I will have a teenager in two-and-a-half months, I’ve been thinking much on the topic of what comes next in Natalie’s development as a young Christian woman. She’s godly, bright, mature, wise, creative, etc., (Please pardon the excessive “proud papa” stuff. I’m sure I”m working through something here.). We are so blessed to live in a time when we, as parents, can draw from those great resources to help us nurture our children – to help them grow deeper in their faith, cultivate their spiritual gifts and their talents, cultivate their intellectual life, etc.
Suzanne and I remind ourselves at the beginning of every school year that we only have X amount of time left with each one of our four children. And that leads us to ask: How will we spend this year? Will we be faithful to Christ’s call in our lives to raise them for his glory and purpose? Will we trust him for the results… even when a hormone or two makes an appearance? Will we persevere in his strength and with his wisdom? Those are not insignificant questions and the answers we give are vitally important. We really do want to raise world-changers for Christ and his Kingdom. That’s obviously an order that no mere mortal can fill. It will require grace, grace, and more grace. That’s what Suzanne and I, by faith and obedience, seek to empower and direct our efforts.
On the subject of an exciting time to be a Christian teenager (high school and college student), below are some links to a few ministries that I can’t wait to learn more about and possibly send my children to. If you have any firsthand knowledge about these ministries and organizations, please drop me a comment and share your experience with the rest of us.
One last caveat: Parents are the primary and most important disciplers of their children. Everything and every one else serves to supplement what mom and/or dad are doing in the home. So having reiterated that, here are some great links for you to check out…
The Lord bless you,
- Providence Extension Program (as I mentioned, this a fabulous way to educate, equip, and encourage your child(ren).
- Summit Ministries
- Ridge Haven Conference and Retreat Center
- Worldview Academy
- Focus Leadership Institute
- The Rebelution
- Generation Joshua
- Trinity Forum Academy
- Nehemiah Institute
- Myers Institute
- Boundless Webzine
- CCO Campus Ministry
- Center for Parent/Youth Understanding