Thus far we have seen that our young people are, for the most part, faithful to church. They are hearing the right message, they are taught the doctrine, they are loved, and they have great opportunity to serve the Lord. We were suprised to find that most of our young people come either from homes where their parents were lost as a "teen ager" or they have no idea what their parent was like, spiritually speaking as a young person. Parents, we MUST take the responsibility of rearing our young people in the nurture of the Lord. It is NOT the pastor or youth pastor's responsibility to rear young people...it is the parents.
I have spent the last two days organizing thoughts and penning rough drafts for this post, but all I have gained is a heart that hurts for our young people. I feel I need to stop and remind myself and others that it is worth the struggle. I thank God for my 6 years working with our young people as their youth pastor. There are, at this very moment, two in the ministry, 4 Godly wives to great men, 6 in Bible college training for the Lord's will in their lives, and two others serving faithfully in their churches waiting for the Lord's direction. How I praise God for this. I do not want to give the impression that I threw away 6 years of my life and theirs, there are victories. I praise God for you all!
Some, would probably accept that ratio as great success and write off the others as unfortunate loss. My problem is, I hate losing. I hate losing especially in an area such as this. These are souls, lives, and potential. And the icing on the cake....God PROMISED we could train them up in the way they should go and they would not depart from it.
Believe me, I have heard every excuse concerning that promise including "It 's the training they will not depart from, not that they won't go into rebellion; but that they will, while in rebellion be constantly reminded of their training." My problem with that thinking is this: If it all comes down to chance-whether they will 'turn out right' or not-what is the point of putting all the work into it like the Lord commanded us to do? Now I know that man was created with a free will, and so were our children; but I also know that God promised me that if I train up my child in the way he/she should go, they will not depart from it...not that it won't depart from them. I kinda like claiming promises. If I can't do that...what do I have?
I believe we as parents-in the typical IFB church-have the mentality that "I will keep my child in church and all activities, send them to the Christian school, and let the pastors do their job." That will not work. We expect our young people to be fine if we do those simple things. That won't work. We expect our young people to have a love for the Lord and a desire to serve Him, without us instilling it. That won't work. Even our young people EXPECT each other to turn out right. The next question on the questionnaire was
I expect most of my peers in my youth class to grow up and...
A. Serve the Lord
B. Go away from God but come back later
C. Serve in Full time ministry
D. Get out of church and make money
The results show that our young people, like our parents, expect a good turn out. ("Like our parents"--we are teaching them and training them). Here are the results:
A. Serve the Lord: 68%
B. Go away from God but come back later 17%
C. Serve in Full time ministry 6%
D. Get out of church and make money 9%
Great expectations! Someone once said, "Inspect what you expect." May I challenge parents not to just "send your kids to a good school and take them to a good church," but get involved in their lives. I inspected and found young people that filled out these questionnaires rebelling in many music, dress, and dating. What chapter of the Bible did your young person read today? What did the Lord speak to them about durring the sermon Sunday? When was the last time you prayed with them and they prayed in your presence? Who are their friends? What are they saying? Who are they praying for to be saved? Who was that last text message to?
Now the other side screams "You will overprotect them?" Is that possible? My children are a most sacred gift from God to my wife and I, and I have been giving a Biblical mandate to protect them and nurture them and train them in the way they should go. In my life's experience, everyone that has been afraid of overprotecting their child was not protecting them enough.
We have great expectations, but we had best inspect what we expect!