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“Once Upon a Time” 1.20.13

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This week we dove into Chapter 3 of The Story and talked all about Joseph. Joseph has an incredible journey with his brothers, his father and with God. Joseph’s story starts with his brothers hating him because of the obvious favoritism from their father, Jacob. This favoritism resulted in ultimately Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery, against Joseph’s will. They covered it up by claiming a wild animal attacked him. The story goes on and through a series of ups-and-downs, including being falsely accused, being imprisoned and eventually God uses Joseph to interpret dreams, Joseph ends up, years later, in a position of high authority in Egypt.

Throughout his life, Joseph had to be asking God, multiple times, “God, what are you doing right now?” Why was Joseph going through the things he was going through? How often do we ask that same question to God about our own lives? Things happen in our lives and we don’t know why. We don’t know why we got that diagnosis. We don’t know why we lost that family member. We don’t know why we lost that job, that friend or our marriage. So we go before God, pour out our hearts and look for answers. Often times, we don’t always find them right away.

Back to the story of Joseph…

Joseph got to that high position of authority by warning Egypt that there was a famine of crops coming soon and that Egypt needs to store away food for the future. Egypt listened and Egypt and the surrounding nations began to experience a huge famine. A couple of years into the famine, Joseph’s family began to experience a famine as well. Jacob, the father, sends his sons to Egypt to get more food. There, they met Joseph, whom they presumed was dead. Joseph had every right to be upset, to deny them food, to even have them killed but instead he chose to react differently.  Check out what Joseph says to his brothers,

“Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” Genesis 45:4-7

“…it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you”

Joseph realized at this moment that God used this terrible situation, a situation where he was sold into slavery, left for dead by his own brothers, falsely accused and imprisoned, for good. God can take any situation that we go through, good or bad, and use it for something amazing. If you allow God to, He can take your tough situation and use it to bless others. But will you allow God to?

Can you think of a time where you asked, “God, why is this happening”? Share that experience with your kid(s). What did God did with that situation? (Maybe you are still waiting for God to do something with that situation)

Catalyst Christmas Party

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We don’t have many four year traditions in Catalyst, since I’ve been here for less than four years– but one of my favorites is the Catalyst Christmas Party.  I’m excited about this year’s as well.  It’s going to be on Wednesday night, Dec. 12, from 6 PM – 9 PM.  One of the biggest aspects of this event that has made it work well in the past is to make it a potluck.  So…I’m going to take a page out of last year’s playbook and ask for help in the following areas:

MAIN COURSE [I was thinking pasta and salad again…if you have a different idea and would like to help make it happen, I’m open to suggestions for changes!]

– pasta for 30

pasta for 20 THE NOYERS

parmesan cheese for 75 WE HAVE THIS

garlic bread for 75 THE RATLIFFS

– salad for 20

– salad for 20

BEVERAGES (our kids drink a lot of soda and punch!)

– punch for 25

– punch for 25

– punch for 25

– water bottles for 75

– sodas for 25

– sodas for 25

– sodas for 25

APPETIZERS

cheese and crackers

another appetizer?

DESSERTS

cookies?

another kind of dessert?

I’d love to get the main course and beverage slots filled up before we approach appetizers and desserts; but I’m confident that we can get these essentials and have plenty of room for lots of goodies!  The last two years have been great with everyone stepping up to help!

Imagining the End

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[Here is an additional resource to challenge and encourage you all as parents during this “Not That Into You” series]…

 

Imagining the End: Focus your energy and effort on the issues that will make a lasting impact

Leaving Home: 5 Things I Want My Children to Take With Them

By Reggie Joiner

A few years ago my daughter Hannah, who was 20 at the time, moved out of my home. She moved into a house with a few other girls. It was one of those things I knew was coming, but I just didn’t know it was going to happen as fast as it did. She had been talking about it for a while, but one afternoon when I got home, everything was gone—well, the things she wanted to take were gone. She left the things she didn’t want.

I remember looking around and, as a dad, it was kind of a sad moment. I remember thinking this may be it. She may never be back in my house again. She may never move back. It created a little controversy in our house when it happened. One of the issues was with her eighteen-year-old sister who came to me very upset. At first, I thought she was upset because Hannah had moved. But I quickly found out that it had nothing to do with Hannah—all the curling irons in the house were gone.

I started looking around at the things Hannah had taken and the things she had left. Do you know what determined what she left and what she took? Simple. She took the things that were important to her and left the things that weren’t. Trust me, when I figured that out, I really started looking around—I wanted to make sure she took a picture of the family and me! But the bottom line was, what mattered to her was gone—with her—and what didn’t matter was left behind.

I had to keep telling myself, “Okay, she is twenty, she is on her own, she is in a house”. And as I went over it again and again in my head, late one night, I took out my notebook and I started writing. She was out of my house and doing her own thing. She was an adult and she was moving forward. So how do I pray for her how? I wrote down five things. And these are the five things I want to pray for all of my children. These are five things I want for all my children’s lives. But that night I prayed this for Hannah:

1) That she will keep moving in a direction towards God. That is the end goal. At the end of it all, I just want to make sure that whatever happens in her life, she just keeps moving in a direction towards God.

2) That she will have an ongoing relationship with God’s Truth—that the value of Scripture and the value of God’s Truth will not dim in her life. I want the message to ring so loud and clear in the hearts of my children that they never get away from the power of God’s truth in their lives.

3) That she will have the right people in her life to challenge her and inspire her. This makes me nervous. This is what keeps me up at night. Besides her mom and me, I just want to make sure there are other adults, other friends, other people who will continue to challenge her and inspire her in her walk and her faith, because I know how important that is. That is community.

4) That we will still be friends. When it is said and done, isn’t that what every parent wants? Let’s be honest. Isn’t your dream that when your children grow up and move away that you are still good friends and still in relationship with them? Absolutely. I still want to have a degree of influence in her life. I still want to be her friend. I still want her to be friends with her mom, friends with her sisters and brother. I still want all that to stay in tact. I want that to be a value in her life that she never gets away from. From her graduation from college, to her wedding day, to when she has kids—I want all of that to be intact and all of that to be right. That is family.

I wrote down one other thing that I pray for.

5) That she will never get away from her sense of mission to be the church. I want her to know that she is wired, that she is created, that God designed her to be the church. I pray that her influence in whatever circle she lives in will be the kind of influence that God has designed her to have. I don’t want her faith to be tied to a place where she goes. Rather, I want her faith to pour into every area of life and every person she encounters. I pray that her significance will come not from what she is doing but from the fact that she knows she is doing the thing God called her to do, and that sense of purpose will always be a part of her life.

Those are five things I want to be really true of her life, and true of the lives of all my children. This, for me, is the essence of what a life needs to become, it’s what I want to move my children towards. And it’s not only how I pray, but the grid through which I process my actions and words to make these things a reality in her life.

These five things may not be a tangible object that Hannah or any of my other kids can pick up and pack up, but they are the things I want them to take with them—no matter how close or far from home they live.

Reggie Joiner is the founder and CEO of The reThink Group, and the author of Think Orange.

Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org

“Not That Into You” Series Parent Cue

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WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT:

Here is an overview of what we’re talking about. Listed below the summary is a “parent cue” to help you dialog with your child about the session. The question is intended not just to be asked by you, but to be responded to by BOTH of you. Use this opportunity to find out what God is teaching your child, and allow your child to see what God is teaching you as well.

NOT THAT INTO YOU:

Series Overview

Every one of us has experienced it at some point. At one time, we were really into a relationship—whether that’s a friendship or a dating relationship—and now, well, not so much. We’re just not that into it anymore. So we walk away or we let the relationship die. But what happens when that relationship you’re not that into anymore is the one you have with God? You were really into Him at one point. You were feeling connected, directed, close. Now it feels like nothing. How do you deal with it?

Session One: The Breakup? (11/4/12)

There is a natural ebb and flow to our relationships, isn’t there? There are times when we feel really close to someone, and times when we don’t. The reasons vary, but there are times when we’re just not feeling that into a relationship. It’s true of our friendships and other relationships, but what happens when it happens in our relationship with God? And when it does, why is it so difficult to admit it?

Session One Parent Cue: Describe a time when you felt really close to God. Now, describe a time when you felt really distant from Him.

Session Two: Fight for Me (11/11/12)

When you’re not that into a relationship, you have a choice—to stay or to go. God has made it very clear in the Bible that He’s not going anywhere. He’s in. But we’re the ones who struggle with the choice, and that struggle sometimes involves fighting our own feelings and perceptions. It’s a fight that we have to be willing to take on, and a decision each of us has to make. And while it may feel like it, it’s not one-sided, God isn’t going anywhere. So are you going to fight your own tendencies to pull away? Are you going to fight for your relationship with God?

Session Two Parent Cue: Have you ever been tempted to walk away from God? What made you come back to Him . . . or walk away?

Session Three: Do You Know Me? (11/18/12)

So you decided to fight, to stay in your relationship with God even though you’re feeling not that into Him. And for some of you, you’ve already seen a big change. There’s a new connection. There’s excitement. But for others, you’re fighting and nothing’s happening. You’re working, but you’re not getting anything in return. So what’s the problem? It may be that “me” is getting in the way, that your focus is on you. And in the process, you have made God very small, boring and predictable—a God you think you know, but One who is actually so much bigger than us.

Session Three Parent Cue: What are some things you’ve learned about God in your relationship with Him? Search online for “names of God” and go through the list and identify specific ways you’ve “experienced” those names. For example, one of the names of God means “provider.” How have you seen God provide in your life? 

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1. Be a Student of What They are Learning

Think about the last time you heard the word “blessed.” What came to mind? For many of us—and many of our students—the word blessed conjures up images of the coolest clothes, the newest gadgets and a worry-free life. But when we look at what God has to say about being blessed, we realize that we probably have things pretty mixed up. Because if being blessed is more about our relationships—and what we do with them—than the stuff we have, we may have some reevaluating to do in order to redefine what it means to be blessed and realize that we might already be more blessed than we originally thought.

2. Be a Student of Your Student

Entitlement seems to be creeping into our culture through every mode possible—television, magazines, music. The feeling that we have the right to something—or to many “somethings”—seems to be the new cultural norm. And while it’s easy to blame the media, culture and maybe even other families who seem to give their teenagers everything under the sun, it’s important to remember the hard truth that in reality, entitlement begins at home. What we model to our children is the true determining factor in how they view the world; what the world has to offer and what they are entitled to get from it. But the problem is, for many of us, entitlement isn’t something that our kids alone struggle with. Entitlement is our struggle too.

Has this thought ever crossed your mind: “If only there was more money in our family budget, we could do so much more for our children? They could be on the traveling baseball team, go on all the church trips and have all the latest gadgets.” Come on. Admit it! There has probably been at least one time in your parenting journey that you have wished for more—more money, more time … more something. And this is totally normal. It’s a struggle that we all face. So, just for fun let’s pretend: You are still you, with your spouse, your children and your extended family, but now you have everything you could ever want—every dollar, every resource, every “thing” and every need met (and most every want met too). How does it feel? Do you feel happier, healthier and more fulfilled? Do you feel more “blessed”?

There is an article that came out in “The Atlantic” in April 2011 entitled “The Secret Fears of the Super Rich.” And while you might expect the focus of this article to be the Dow Jones Index, the real estate market or tax reform, what emerged was something much more relatable to the rest of us. What the article uncovered was the reality that even the super rich fear for the well being of their children. As the article’s summary states: “Does great wealth bring fulfillment? An ambitious study by Boston College suggests not. For the first time, researchers prompted the very rich—people with fortunes in excess of $25 million—to speak candidly about their lives. The result is a surprising litany of anxieties: their sense of isolation, their worries about work and love, and most of all, their fears for their children.” (To read the full article, go to http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/04/secret-fears-of-the-super-rich/8419/.)

As one respondent of the survey confided, “Other people glorify wealth and think that it means that the wealthy are smarter, wiser, more ‘blessed’ or some other such crock … it’s hard to get other, non-wealthy people to believe it’s not more significant than that … The novelty of money has worn off.”

Can you imagine being able to say that? To say the novelty of money has worn off? Most of us will never be there, but it sure feels good to know that just because someone has enough money to buy anything their heart desires—for themselves or their children—it doesn’t mean that it alleviates their fears. It doesn’t mean that they are more blessed. As a matter of fact, in most cases, it actually ups the ante on the fear and anxiety level.

So, with that in mind, let’s turn back to the idea of entitlement and take a look at an article written by Carey Nieuwhof on the Orange Parents blog—“Five Ways to Fight Entitlement in Your Kids.”

 

3. Action Point

Take some time to read through the following article by Carey Nieuwhof—Lead Pastor at Connexus Community Church north of Toronto Canada—and discuss with your student how you can put at least 1 of the following 5 suggestions into practice.

Five Ways to Fight Entitlement in Your Kids

By Carey Nieuwhof

(http://www.orangeparents.org/five-ways-to-fight-entitlement-in-your-kids/)

Like most parents, you feel this terrible tug.

On the one hand, you want to provide your child with every advantage. On the other hand, sometimes it feels like when you do that, you’re feeding an incredibly unhealthy characteristic in our culture.

For whatever reason, we’re living in the midst of an entitlement epidemic. Probably more than any other generation before us, our generation feels as though we have a right to things that used to be defined as wants, or even privileges.

Here’s how the cycle starts:

On the day your child is born, it’s easy to decide as a parent that you need to give your child every advantage.

So you compete. You made sure he had bright colors in his nursery and exactly the right kind of mobile to stimulate his brain, but now it’s an all out frenzy to ensure your preschooler can swim, skate, hit a ball, paint frameable art, read, write and speak classical Greek before his fourth birthday.

And don’t worry, because by the time you’re done with the race to kindergarten, the culture has taken over feeding the frenzy. Your child has now seen enough advertisements and made enough friends to believe that her every desire not only can be met, but should be met. The boots that every other stylish kid is wearing are not a privilege, they are a right. Or so you’ve been told.

And then other inalienable rights emerge: the right to a phone for texting, iPod touches, Facebook and so much more.

Somewhere in the mix, you found yourself realizing that you are tempted to pay your kids for every “act of service” rendered in the house, from emptying the trash to picking up each sock.

And you realize something is desperately wrong. And you would be correct in that.

So, what do you do to fight entitlement in yourself and in your kids? Here are five suggestions:

1.  Be clear on wants and needs. I joke with my kids that we owe them shelter, food and clothes, and I would be happy to slip a pizza under the door to their cardboard house any time they wish (they are 16 and 20, don’t try this with your 5-year-old, but you get the point.) Take time to explain what is actually a need and what a want is. Culture will never explain it to them. You need to.

2.  Reclaim special occasions. There is nothing wrong with not buying wants for your kids in every day life. Save the special things for special occasions like birthdays, Christmas and the like. You don’t need to indulge for no reason. In fact, you probably shouldn’t.

3.   Set a budget and let them choose. With back to school shopping and seasonal purchases, we started setting a budget with our kids early and then let them choose how they would spend it. They become much more frugal shoppers when all of a sudden they realize that money is limited and they can get more if they shop around.

4.  Establish an allowance and expectations. An allowance is a great way for a child to learn responsibility. We’ve encouraged our kids to give 10 percent of every thing they earn, save 10 percent, and live off the rest (the formula gets more restrictive the closer they get to college). Explain what gets covered and not covered out of that allowance.

5.  Be clear about what you will never pay them for. There are some things that you do because you are a part of the family. You can decide where that lands in your home. Make a list of responsibilities that no one gets paid for that you do because you are part of a family. To help with this, why not ask your kids what a reasonable list looks like? Involving them will help them own the decision. Second, make sure you follow up. And hold them responsible for what you all agreed to do. Otherwise you will be tempted to pay for everything or just roll your eyes daily and do it yourself.

Approaches like these can help raise kids who see life as a series of privileges, who live gratefully, and realize their responsibility to others.

How is our entitlement culture impacting your family? And how have you learned to battle it?

Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org

“Blessed” Series Parent Cue

“Pause” Series Parent Cue

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We are talking with your teenager about pausing and realizing that God is always with him or her. But don’t you wish sometimes you could hit a “pause” button and breathe? As a parent of a teenager, life is crazy. There’s always something going on, isn’t there? Life seems to move so quickly. In fact, sometimes, don’t you wish you could hit a “pause” button on your teenager? They grow up so fast.

It seemed so much easier to connect with him when he was younger. It seemed like you had so much more in common with her when she was younger. And you knew where you stood with your son or daughter then. They would light up when you walked in the room. They would eagerly greet you at the door when you came home. Now you’re not even sure he or she wants you around. You’re not alone. Every parent of a teen feels that way. But guess what? As much as it may not feel like it, they do still want you around.

Maybe this story will inspire you, and maybe it will help you pause, see that glimpse into your teen’s life and realize that he or she still needs you too.

NOT INVITED

By Bob Welch

I was sitting in a bathtub full of moldy sheetrock when my thirteen-year-old son asked the question. “Can you take me golfing sometime?” he said.

I had a bathroom to remodel. It was fall, and the forecast for the next week was a one-hundred percent chance of Oregon’s liquid sunshine. I wanted to say no. “Sure,” I said. “What did you have in mind?”

“Well, maybe you could, like, pick up Jared and me after school on Friday and take us out to Oakway.”

“Sounds good.”

Friday came. The showers continued. Looking out the window, moldy sheetrock seemed the saner choice. But at the appointed hour, I changed from the home-improvement garb to rain-protection garb and loaded the boys’ clubs and mine in the back of the car. Ryan looked at me with a perplexed expression.

“What’s with the golf hat, Dad?” he said.

It was, I thought, a silly question, like asking a scuba diver what’s with the swim fins.

“Well, I thought we were going to play some golf.”

A peculiar pause ensued, like a phone line temporarily gone dead.

“Uh, you’re going too?” he asked.

Suddenly, it struck me like a three-iron to my gut: I hadn’t been invited.

Thirteen years of parenting flashed before my eyes. The birth. The diapers. The late-night feedings. Helping with homework. Building forts. Fixing bikes. Going to games. Going camping. Going everywhere together—my son and I.

Now I hadn’t been invited. This was it. This was the end of our relationship as I had always known it.

Why did it all have to change?

I needed to level with him. I needed to express how hurt I was. Share my gut-level feelings. Muster all the courage I could find, bite the bullet, and spill my soul.

So I said, “Me? Play? Naw. You know I am up to my ears in the remodel project.”

We drove on in silence for a few moments.

“So, how are you planning to pay for this?” I asked, my wounded ego reaching for the dagger.

“Uh, could you loan me seven dollars?”

Oh, I get it. He doesn’t want me, but he’ll gladly take my money.

“No problem,” I said.

I dropped him and Jared off, wished them luck and headed for home. My son was on his own now. Nobody there to tell him how to fade a five-iron, how to play the tricky downhiller, how to hit the sand shot. And what if there’s lightning? A runaway golf cart? A band of militant gophers?

There I was, driving away for now. Not just for now. Forever. This was it. The bond was broken. Life would never be the same.

I walked in the door. “What are you doing home?” my wife asked.

I knew it would sound like some kid who was the only one in the gang not invited to the slumber party, but maintaining my immature demeanor, I said it anyway.

“I wasn’t invited,” I replied, with a trace of snottiness.

Another one of those peculiar pauses ensued. Then my wife laughed. Out loud. At first I was hurt. Then I, too, laughed and the situation suddenly became much clearer.

I went back to the bathroom remodel and began realizing that this is what life is all about: change. This is what I’ve been preparing him for since he first looked at me and screamed in terror—not to play golf without me, but to take on the world without me. With his own set of clubs. His own game plan. His own faith.

God was remodeling my son. Adding some space here. Putting in a new feature here. In short, allowing him to become more than he could ever be if I continued to hover over him.

I went back to the bathroom remodel project. A few hours later, I heard Ryan walk in the front door. I heard him complain to his mother that his putts wouldn’t drop, that his drives were slicing and that the course was like a lake. He sounded like someone I knew. His tennis shoes squeaked with water as I heard him walk back to where I was working on the bathroom.

“Dad,” he said, dripping on the floor, “my game stinks. Can you take me golfing sometime? I need some help.”

I wanted to hug him. Rev my radial-arm saw in celebration. Shout: “I’m still needed!” I wanted to tell God, “Thanks for letting me be a part of this kid’s remodel job.”

Instead, I got one of those serious-dad looks on my face and stoically said, “Sure, Ry, anytime.”

(Used by permission. Bob Welch can be reached at www.bobwelch.net.)

© 2010 Orange. All rights reserved.

Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org

“Intersect” Parent Cue

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1. Be a Student of What They are Learning

The wonder of God is all around us. But sometimes we’re too overloaded with answers to see the beautiful mystery behind all of our questions. For the ancient Hebrews, the wonder of God was present in their very history—in the God-stories they passed from generation to generation. And when the God of those amazing stories chose to dwell within the temple—when He chose to reveal Himself to His people—that wonder was accessible to them 24/7. But God didn’t stop there. He sent His son so that the temple, the place where He chose to dwell, could move from a place to a person. Because of Jesus, we have become the temple. Because of what Jesus did, we are the tangible representation of God to the world. We are now the place—we are the way—that God chooses to intersect with the world.

2. Be a Student of Your Student

In this series, your student has been walking through the Old and New Testament to get a better understanding of the temple. But not just the temple as the building where God chose to meet with His people; they have been studying and journeying through the idea of the ways that God chooses to intersect with His people—to intersect with us—and the purpose He is serving through that intersection: to bring the kingdom of heaven to Earth through us. We’ve been challenging them to think about their own role in bringing the particular elements of God’s kingdom—peace, justice, mercy—to the world around them. And in doing this, we also recognize the major role that you, as their parent, play in this.

So, in order to move into a deeper understanding of your role as an encourager of your student’s desire to be a partner with God in communicating God’s kingdom here on Earth, we are going to take a look at a roundtable discussion conducted by the Fuller Youth Institute and presented by Kara Powell entitled “Justice Hits Close to Home: A Roundtable Panel on Inviting Parents into Our Service” .

I was midway through my Wednesday night youth group clean up routine. Working with a team of student leaders and adult volunteers, we were stowing away our sound system, stacking up chairs, and scooping up the candy wrappers and smashed paper cups that littered our youth room floor.

But then came a not-so-routine conversation, one that forever altered the way I involve parents in justice and service. Two mothers walked up to me, both of whom were concerned about their fourteen year-old sons.

The mother who reached me first shared her anxiety: “Ever since the series that you taught on missions, my son keeps saying he wants to go to Guatemala on a short-term mission trip this summer. I lay awake at night, worried that something bad will happen to him. He’s only fourteen and I’m afraid he’ll get hurt.”

The second mother, having overheard the first mom, sighed and shared one of the more convicting statements I’ve ever heard one parent share with another. “I wish that was my problem. My son doesn’t want anything to do with church or God anymore, and I think his friends are into drugs. I’d give anything to have a son who wants to serve the Lord in Guatemala this summer.”

Was the first mother wrong to be concerned about her son’s safety? Of course not, but seeking to right wrongs through acts of justice and service are always risky on some level. Perhaps the deeper issue was her hesitation about justice work in the first place. God was inviting her son to participate in the kingdom through acts of justice, but allowing her son to RSVP to that invitation felt way too uncomfortable.

As youth workers, the justice invitation we extend doesn’t stop at the in-box of the fourteen year-old. Like pretty much everything else we do in youth ministry, our impact on both the fourteen year-old and our planet will be magnified when we do the hard work of adding parents’ names to our invitation list.

Why Parents Matter: What MTV Has to Say

In 2006, MTV conducted a nationwide survey in order to understand how and why youth in America are already active in social causes. Here’s what that study found:

  • Of the kids they surveyed, 70 percent say it’s important to help others in need. Only 19 percent are “very involved” in doing so.
  • 62 percent say the issues that matter most to them are those that have touched them or someone they know.
  • 70 percent of kids involved in activism report that their parents’ encouragement played a major factor in their choice to get involved.

In the midst of these findings, one theme emerges: Justice needs to hit kids close to home. It needs to hit close to home thematically as we help kids understand how particular injustices relate to their lives. But it also needs to hit home literally as we invite parents both to exemplify and to encourage their own kids to right wrongs around them.

3. Action Point

We as parents set the stage for the way our family views and interacts with the world. And this is especially true for our children. How we spend our money, our time, our resources—our lives—sends a clear signal to our families about what is most important to us. Throughout this series your students have been learning about their role as co-laborers with God. And what that means is that your student has an important role to play in God’s story. Just as they are. As young as they are. As silly as they are. As creative as they are. They are the exact person God wants to use to effect change in this world. And your ability and willingness to support them can give wings to their God-given desire to reach out and make a difference.

So, take a moment to dig deep and reflect on how you can support your son or daughter’s role as a co-laborer with God as you answer the following questions:

1) Where have you seen your student get fired up to serve or to impact change in their world? Maybe it’s been through a service opportunity with their youth group or a passion that was fueled after seeing a film about the needs of people half way around the world. Think about the thing that breaks your student’s heart or gets them excited. Then, think about the gifts that you have seen expressed in their lives since they were little. How can these passions and gifts come together to make change? Take some time this week to tell your student where and how you see them putting together their passions and gifts to make a difference in their world.

2) How can you encourage that desire and create opportunities through your community, work relationships, church relationships, etc.? After you have talked about the issues your student is passionate about and the gifts they possess, brainstorm some resources that you have as a family. Maybe there are people you know that are directly involved with a particular cause. Or, maybe you have the skills to navigate the Internet and make calls to get the ball rolling for your student. Think through the ways you can support your student’s involvement in God’s story of reconciliation. It may even be as simple as praying with them over the things that are close to their heart—whether it’s a global issue or a close friend who they are concerned about.

The bottom line is that when your student feels encouraged and supported by you in both word and deed, they will be able to take the amazing ideas and gifts that God has placed in them and do amazing things. And you will get to share in the joy of watching them bring God’s heavenly kingdom to Earth.

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