Being involved with children's ministry, as well as youth, I have the privilege to rub shoulders with lots of parents. Parents with all sorts of backgrounds. Many single parent homes, step-parent homes, and a smaller contingency of first marriage, two parent homes. There are days where the word privilege would not exactly be on my mind when it comes to describing my interaction with parents. In fact, it would be quite easy to have a negative bent toward parents, to view them as the enemy, or to accept my role as that of the parent.
It is here that I have been feeling more and more challenged as a leader and pastor. Parents, regardless of circumstances, want to be good parents. Are there parents who really could give a rip? Sure, but they are the exception not the rule. So if the starting point is a negative bent toward the parents, then I would be starting with the exception and not the rule. I am dong my best to partner with parents, and to teach our family team to think in these terms as well. Parents are not perfect and more than anything they need encouragement and assistance. What if parents saw the church as a people of support and encouragement, rather than condemning or conflicting with? It is also easy for me to assume the role of the parent if the parent is disconnected. I am learning to start with an invitation to involve the parents as best I can before relegating them to bystander status. I believe this could be the approach for teachers or anyone involved with instructing, mentoring and educating young people. I do not set out to be a replacement parent, nor do I want to assume the role without exhausting all options in which to partner with the parents. The reality is the average church has 40 hours a year with kids and youth, and the average parent has 3000 hours with them. Whether for good or bad, the parent is the number one spiritual influence in their child's life. This makes ignoring, disregarding, or criticizing parents as poor stewardship of time and influence. It is crucial to partner with parents, assist them, and to champion the home as best as we can. If the home life is a mess we cannot cast it aside, or see our job as just helping the young person survive it. We need to champion the family and use our influence to impact the entire home. Is this easy? A most emphatic NO! Can it be messy? A most emphatic yes! But is it healthy? I believe so, because I believe in the family. Better yet, it is God who created the family and His love for the family drives me to love and believe in the family.
This is shaping and reshaping me,