The Most Important Influence

I’m sitting here at the EDGE conference, taking a break from the 1300 screaming teenagers that are here and trying to dodge the water balloons/shaving cream/duct tape/stink bombs.

Of course, no one in OUR youth group would EVER do any of those things.  We are only here for the SPIRITUAL aspects of this event!

During a youth ministry “Round Table” discussion this morning 7:30 am (yes, that’s AM), I pulled my usually routine of drinking enough coffee to keep me pretending that I was happy and alert.  As most of you know, morning and I do not agree.

As I worked to focus what’s left of my brain, I was reminded of something that I have known for years, but do not often emphasize enough.  A youth volunteer from a church in Tennessee said, “All our ideas are great, but parents are still the most important influence in their lives!”

We do a great job of working hard to minister to students, but we sometimes fail to train and encourage the best youth ministers that we have.  We forget about the youth ministers who have the most influence and most access to the students we are trying to help.

I can take them off for a weekend, but you will be with them for a lifetime.

Many of you who are parents worry about being strict enough or tough enough in your discipline.  You do need to stand firm and say “Yes” or “No,” and occasionally “violate” your child’s “civil rights” to keep them on the right path.  But there is another side that you need to work on as well.

Do not forget to develop a RELATIONSHIP with your child!

Do not become a disciplinarian to the point that your relationship with your children becomes an “Us vs. Them” thing!  You need to learn to talk to your kids as much as you yell at them (and no, I don’t have this one down yet either).

If your kids think that all you ever do is assume the worst of them, they will begin to live up to your expectations.  If you want them to tell you the truth, you need to realize that you will not like every truth that you hear.  Is this easy?  Absolutely not.  Is it essential?  No question about it.

It is critically important that you keep your children involved in church, particularly as they enter those wonderful days of junior and senior year.  But it is equally important that YOU become involved in ministry to them.  I do not mean simply chaperoning a ski trip, but ministering to them in day to day life.

We need ALL parents to help out in youth, no matter how many times your child yells, “NO!  Not MY mom!  Not MY dad!”  Even if your child does not want you around, some other child wants (and needs) you to be there.

More than that, all kids need you to be there when the youth minister can’t be.

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