In 1956, Pauline Phillilps founded an advice column called Dear Abby. Today,her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, carries on the tradition of the advice column run by most major newspaper organizations and a growing number of websites. One can write of their dilemma and soon after read some "applicable counsel." Blah...blah...blah...
Question number eight on our youth questionnaire reads:
When I need advice or counsel, I feel most comfortable talking to:
A: School Counselor: 4%
B: Friend: 25%
C: Youth Pastor: 20%
D: Pastor: 6%
E: Parent: 45%
At first glance, one may be celebrating a parent victory! While it is true, they did lead in votes; isn't it sad that 55% of our young people, when they need counsel, feel most comfortable talking to someone OTHER THAN their parents?
Now for sure, I am not against young people getting counsel from their pastor or youth pastor, but I believe it ought to be obtained under the guidance of the parents.
In today's IFB movement, the theory of "send them to Christian school, church, and involved in activities and all will be well" is proven over and over to be a failure. In my year's of youth pastor I made my share of mistakes; but it still amazes me how that most children that did wrong or rebelled was MY FAULT. Now, I was not perfect, but there are only three youth in this world who if they rebel is my fault...My children.
I cannot stress enough the importance of parents obtaining the hearts of their children. When I was youth pastor, in my ignorance and now shame, I had the heart of too many of the teens I ministered to. Most would climb a mountain or swim an ocean for me at the time (some still might). I had their heart. How? I listened, talked, and loved them and showed that love. I loved spending time with them. I was interested in their lives, even the things that were uninteresting to me. I got their hearts, but it should have been their parents.
Our church, under the leadership of God, has been going through many changes in these areas. There is still some "adjusting" going on to new Biblical philosophies. I have heard from parents that their teen ager doesn't "love Bro. Carr like their other child did me." Or, I have heard "Bro. Carr just doesn't have a 'heart' for these kids.' Well, both statements are wrong. Bro. Carr does love the young people just as I did, if not more, in that he is pushing their hearts towards their parents. Bro. Carr does have a 'heart' for our young people-one of knowledge-that desires them to have a Biblically healthy relationship with their parents.
Problem I see is that most parents don't want that responsibility. Most would rather have a fall back to blame if their 'kids don't turn out right.' While learning the youth ministry, I was taught that there were: Youth Pastors and Youth Directors.
The Youth director would organize activities and run events and teach a class; but that we ought to strive to be a youth pastor who does all of the above, but does it while getting the heart of the young people and ministering to them in love. I swallowed it and applied it and sought to be a youth pastor. Problem is, the last 5 years, I have been re-evaluating what we do in our IFB churches in accordance to the Bible. I don't find "youth pastor, youth minister, youth director, or youth leader" in any way. Today's common thought when thinking of youth pastor is "The fun, goofy guy that works at church." How sad.
What we need today are parents who will turn their hearts to their children and as a result have the heart of their child turned to them-or as Malachi 4:6 reads, if we do not, God will "come and smite the earth with a curse." Today, in our age of apostacy, we suffer even in our churches with:
"they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness" 2 Peter 2.
Notice, there would be 'cursed children.' Why? Parents have neglected to get the hearts of their young people. Did you know, God made all of us with the desire to give our hearts away? It is best that it be given to the parent until a wedding day, where it should be then given to a wife until 'death do they part.' Instead, most young people will give it to 17 boy/girl friends in high school and college and then 2 husbands/wives through divorce. We are failing.
It may seem like a small matter "where do our young people feel most comfortable getting their counsel," but it is quite the opposite.
Bible warns over and over against wrong counsel:
The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. Psalm 33:10
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. Psalm 1:1
Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. Numbers 31:16
The right kind of counsel is obtainable through the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and wise men (not peers).
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. Prov. 2:6
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. Prov. 13:20
In closing, I encourage the reader to reference the story of Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12. There, a young man was given the choice between the counsel of his peers and that of wise men. He chose that of his peers, and lost everything. Parents, with all thy getting, get the heart of your child so that in the days when they need counsel (and those days will come), they feel most comfortable coming to you.