May you dare to believe that God is in control this year, that his plan for you is good and wherever he has placed you is on purpose for his purposes.
May you dare to believe that your identity, your worth, and your value, are not found in what you do, in what others say, by what you have, by your worst moment, or by your best moment, but that what God says about you matters most.
May you dare to believe that God is for you and not against you. May you dare to believe that you are not alone, but may you dare to believe you walk in the power of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit, guiding each step.
May you dare to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, growing to be more and more like him every day so others can know him. May you dare to share the hope and peace that you have that goes beyond human understanding
May you dare to believe that there are followers of Jesus, standing with you and for you as you live out his plan and purpose for your life.
Just this morning as I was taking my dogs for a walk, I was listening to a podcast in which the hosts were having a discussion about discipleship, specifically how we disciple our kids/students.
There were so many thought-provoking things that caused me to pause and later re-listen to the podcast as I took my own notes and pondered for a bit.
Some of what was shared affirmed what we as a NextGen team as Century believe is our mission: to resource and support parents as they lead and guide their child’s discipleship journey. As we’ve said before, parents are the #1 spiritual influence in the life of a child, whether ‘spirituality' is present or not. The church is also one of the greatest influences, which is why we partner with families to leverage our combined influence so that students grow to be disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus.
One thing that was reiterated over and over again in the podcast was this: a compelling faith in a parent and a richness of living in community with other disciples of Jesus are the greatest catalysts for launching our kids into the real world. Even if there is a season where our teenagers are pushing back on the truth of Scripture and the building blocks of their spiritual lives, if they have witnessed a compelling faith in their parents and see that faith lived out by other disciples of Jesus in community, those teenagers will still come back to a life that abides in Christ.
The question we have to ask ourselves as parents and influencers in the life of kids/teenagers (because research has shown that the influence of other adults who follow Jesus on a kid/teenager matters a lot!) is what does a compelling faith look like? What does living in community with other disciples of Jesus look like?
For us at Century, we’ve defined a ‘compelling faith’ as being a disciple of Jesus, someone who actively follows Jesus and loves people. That looks like finding our identity in Jesus alone, focusing on becoming more and more like Jesus every day, holding high and applying the Bible to our lives, worshipping God above everything else, giving spiritual gifts because we’ve been given spiritual gifts, knowing, applying, and speaking the gospel at all times, living in community with other disciples of Jesus, and being for our city and loving people wherever they are. Living in community with other disciples of Jesus means living out those 8 Characteristics (Identity, Imitation, Word, Worship, Gifts, Gospel, Community, City) with other people, joining together with the rest of the body of Christ, learning, and growing together.
It’s a gift to play an active role in the lives of our own kids/teenagers, but also to play a role in the lives of other kids/teenagers. The goal, the end-game is to make disciples of Jesus who will go and make disciples of Jesus. That process and goal is not a conveyor belt producing cookie-cutter humans that know what Scripture says and have knowledge of it, but don’t act upon it. The goal is making disciples who make disciples. It’s a privilege to be a part of the work of God in the lives of others, to be asked to join in and be on mission with Jesus, being empowered by the Holy Spirit to make disciples and make his name great.
This summer, a friend of mine invited me to be on a parent panel.
Yes, a parent panel.
I asked her if she was thinking of a different April or a different month but she assured me that I was indeed the person she was looking for.
When it comes to writing and talking about Middle School students, identity, belonging, and purpose, I feel adequate. I feel like I know what I'm talking about because I've spent the last 12 years completely immersed in these arenas, learning, growing, and soaking up any and every bit of information I can get so that I can be more equipped and empowered than I was prior to that information.
But parenting? Lord, help me.
And a panel? That would almost suggest that I 'know' something about the subject. Last time I checked, this girl was Googling what was the suggested amount of sleep for a kindergarten boy. And to be honest, I only looked it up so that I could feel a little less guilt over saying yes to watching one more Mickey Mouse cartoon on Disney+.
It's an honor to sit on this panel with two fellow parents and be interviewed by another parent (shoutout to Mariah, Sara, and Amber). As we sit around (or in our little squares on Zoom), there's a collective sigh of "you're figuring this all out, too? whew. I'm not alone in this."
That's a collective sigh that I hope is felt and heard throughout the waves of the internet and TV. Parenting is hard. Parenting in a pandemic is hard. Every human right now-whatever journey he or she is on, parent or not-needs to hear "I'm figuring this out, too." I'm hopeful that our stories or "how do I do this?" questions are connecting with others on similar journeys. That even our mistakes help another feel less alone or have greater compassion on himself/herself. The more spaces that we provide for other humans to have these exhales and collective sighs of relief, the richer and fuller our lives will be.
P.S. That one time has turned into a recurring time. Check out Studio 701 on KXMB at 9 am, Monday through Friday. Parent Panel airs on Tuesday mornings. Tune in for your collective sigh of relief.