As my children reach their teenage years, I hear the echoes of popular advice from friends who have gone through the experience: “say goodbye to communicating, understanding, and relating to your children from here on out” and “this is the end” are the most popular refrains, even from Christians.
Similarly, churches and modern church culture tend to place tremendous importance on the success of its growth and attractiveness on the presence of an enigmatic youth minister, director, or pastor who performs miracles in his ability to connect with the heart and mind of our middle school and high school youths.
Over the last four years (three plus a gracious bonus year), David Noel (along with his wife Nendir) has served as our youth director. His youthful enthusiasm, energy, and desire to know each of our children in his care allowed him to connect deeply with them. He taught and played with them through Friday night youth meetings, Sunday morning Sunday School, and conversations with them.
Most importantly, David mentored them to know and to love our God, our Savior, our Lord. He did this in every conversation and interaction he had with our children, whether it was mentoring them through tough school interactions and relationships or teaching them the Word of God in Sunday School and Friday nights. Whatever the challenge, David reminded them to turn their eyes and their hearts to God. He listened to our children, spoke to them, inspired them, encouraged them, loved them.
Do you see? Our middle school and high school children are reachable!
As GRC continues our search for a Youth Pastor, God has challenged every parent in this season of our lives. As a father of a newly-minted teen along with a 10-year old and 15-month old, I will not accept the world’s vision of a teenager/children-parent relationship. That is the world’s way; and so long as I continue to do as the world does, that is precisely the dysfunction I should expect.
Instead, I am challenged, and I would challenge every father to live as men of God. These are just a few points:
- Seek and know our Lord (take time to study the Bible, but at the least read the Bible daily).
- From that knowledge, walk (model) in the way of our Lord everywhere and every moment. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
- Teach our children about God and the importance of eternal life. We are and always will be our children’s primary teachers. (Proverbs 22:6)
- From an early age but continually be mindful to discipline and teach discipline, not for the purpose of correction but to teach of God’s and our love. (Hebrews 12:5-6)
- As true children of the merciful and loving God and disciples of Christ, make every teachable moment with our children focused on God, His instruction, His love, His forgiveness, His promises.
Individually we may not have all the answers or have the patience to do what God has commanded us to do. But together, let us NOT be merely men of the world: discussing finances, home repair, sports, the latest politics. Instead, let us encourage one another in our walk with Christ, share true struggles and ways to overcome them in the path of Christ. I ask that all fathers join me, challenge me, encourage me, and hold me accountable as we do so for each other.
Tony Lim and his wife, Simone, along with their 3 children, have been worshipping at GRC since 2009. You can speak to him about men’s ministry, life group, and welcome ministry.