Holidays (Other), Mailbag, Thanks/Thanksgiving

The Mailbag: Teaching Children Gratefulness

Originally published November 22, 2021

Do you know like of any Biblically sound books that will help teach a 3 yr old how to have a grateful heart? My daughter is trying to cultivate that in my 3 yr old grandson.

Awww, how sweet! What a blessing that he has a godly mommy and Grammy (or Mimi or Mamaw or…).

My youngest child is 18 so I’m not familiar with whatever is currently popular and available, although I’m sure there are some good, doctrinally sound children’s books out there. (Readers, if you have any suggestions, let this sister know in the comments.)

But if you’ll indulge me a trip down memory lane to wallow in sentimentality for just a moment, this was my daughter’s favorite book when she was a toddler (and all her little brothers loved it too!). It combines counting skills, thankfulness, and a hymn – pretty great, if you ask me!

Count Your Blessings by Donna D. Cooner, 1995

Now, it’s just sitting in my closet waiting for some grandchildren to come along…

If you decide to buy some toddler books on gratitude, I would just caution you to vet the authors of any book you’re considering just like you would vet the author of a book for adults. There are many false teachersPriscilla Shirer, Sarah Young, and Sheila Walsh just to name a few off the top of my head – who have branched out into writing children’s books.

But honestly, I think this is a great opportunity for you and your daughter to start teaching your grandson the Bible, Scripture memory, and prayer as it relates to being grateful to God.

This is a great opportunity to start teaching your child the Bible, Scripture memory, and prayer as it relates to being grateful to God.

Read some stories about people in the Bible who were thankful – the thankful leper, Zacchaeus, Noah, Daniel, rebuilding the temple…really any story in which God acts, provides, or protects and people thank Him for it – and ask a few simple questions.

  • What did the main character in the story need or ask God for? What did God do?
  • What did the main character say or do when God acted, provided, or protected?
  • Has God ever acted, provided for, or protected you like that? How can we tell Him thank you?

Grab your concordance and look up some words and phrases like “give thanks“. Find a simple verse(s), talk about what it means, and practice saying it together. You might be surprised at just how quickly he can memorize those verses! The Bible verse memes in my article Top 10 Bible Verses on Giving Thanks are perfect for printing out or copying to your phone or tablet for this.

Another way to reinforce giving thanks to God is through music. You may find something helpful at Seeds Family Worship, or just create your own playlist on your favorite music platform.

One way I helped my children remember to be thankful (and let me tell you, it didn’t just help my children!) was with a simple little game I called The Gratitude Game. It’s kind of like playing “I Spy.” Just look out the window when you’re driving around in the car, or look around as you’re taking a walk, and take turns thanking God for what you see: “Thank You, God, for making birds.” “Thank You for ice cream.” “Thank You for police officers who help us.”

Books can be fun and helpful, and I hope you find a good one for your little sweetie, but you can’t beat stories and activities that center on Scripture itself.

When it comes to teaching your little ones gratitude, you can’t beat stories and activities that center on Scripture itself.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Holidays (Other), Parenting

Beautiful Motherhood: A Mother’s Day Bible Study

As we look ahead to Mother’s Day,
let’s check out what the Bible has to say about mothering.
This is lesson 12 of my topical Bible study:

Imperishable Beauty- A Study of Biblical Womanhood.

Read These Selected Scriptures

Questions to Consider

1. What are some attributes or character traits of a godly mother from Proverbs 31 that we can emulate? In today’s lesson, rather than attributes to emulate, we’ll be focusing on God’s instructions to obey for mothers. We’ll examine how we’re to regard motherhood and our children, how we’re to train our children in godliness, how we’re to discipline our children out of ungodliness, and the example we’re to set for our children. Some of these instructions can also apply to childless women in their relationships with their spiritual children (i.e. younger women or children they disciple) and others. As you read over today’s passages, explain how childless women might apply some of these Scriptures.

2. Examine the first three passages (Psalm 127-Titus 2) together. What do these passages say about how we are to regard motherhood and our children? What should the attitude of our hearts be? In what sense are children a reward? How do we know that Psalm 127:3 does not mean that if you act in a way that pleases the Lord He will reward your good behavior with children? What does this verse mean? Is loving your children (Titus 2:4) simply a feeling of affection toward them? If so, why would young women need to be trained to love their children? When you finish today’s lesson, come back to Titus 2:4 and give a fully-orbed biblical definition of what it means to love your children.

3. Examine the next five passages (Proverbs 22-Ephesians 6) together. Why does God want us to train our children in godliness? Explain the phrase “in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). How does the gospel figure in to training your child? Look carefully at the three Old Testament passages. At what age should we begin training our children in godliness and the Scriptures and how long should this training continue? Is Proverbs 22:6 an iron-clad guarantee or promise from God that if we raise our children in a godly home they will definitely get saved and turn out to be godly adults? Why not? (Scroll down to the Deuteronomy 21 passage if you need help.)

To whom are the Colossians and Ephesians verses addressed? Does this mean they don’t apply to mothers or that it’s OK for mothers to provoke their children, but not fathers? If they apply to both parents, why are they addressed to fathers? How are we not to deal with our children according to these verses? What does it mean to provoke your children? Why are we not to provoke them (Colossians), and how are we to deal with them instead (Ephesians)? Compare Ephesians 6:4b to the Old Testament verses in this section. How are they similar?

3. Examine the next three passages (Proverbs 29-Deuteronomy 21) together. What is the purpose of godly discipline? What are the biblical definitions of the words “discipline” and “reproof”? Are discipline, reproof, and training the same as punishment? Why or why not? What are some of the consequences of disciplining your child? The consequences of refusing to discipline your child? According to Proverbs 13:24, what motivates someone to discipline her child? What motivates someone to refuse to discipline her child? Are “love” and “hate” simply emotional feelings in this verse or an attitude, posture, or orientation of mindset toward the child? Look closely at Deuteronomy 21:20. Is this passage most likely talking about a very young child or an older child/teenager? According to the Deuteronomy 21 passage, does godly discipline always result in an obedient son or daughter, or can there be exceptions to the rule?

Why is it important to both train your child in godly ways and discipline him out of ungodly ways? Explain how this fits into the “put off the ungodly, put on the godlymodel of biblical sanctification.

4. Examine the last five passages (Deuteronomy 21-Matthew 10) together. What do these passages teach us about the godly example we need to set for our children?

Sometimes we see implicit instructions to parents in passages that explicitly teach children how to treat and regard their parents. For example, if there were a verse that said, “Children, love your parents,” we could learn from that verse that we need to act in a way (lovable) that makes it easier for our children to obey that Scripture. Considering this concept, look at the Exodus 20 and Proverbs 1 passages. If your children are to honor you, in what manner should you behave? What should your teaching be like if your children are not to forsake it and to consider it a “graceful garland” and a “pendant”?

What is the context of Ezekiel 16? To whom is the parent/child metaphor in this  passage addressed? Explain the phrase “like mother, like daughter”. Why is it important to set a good example for our children with our own behavior, and why was this a good metaphor for God to use in addressing Israel’s unfaithfulness to Him?

Examine the Deuteronomy 21 and Matthew 10 passages together. What is to be a mother’s highest priority – her relationship with her child, even the life of her child, or her love for, obedience to, and loyalty to Christ? Do you love Christ more than your child? If you had to choose between your child and Christ, who would you choose? What message does it send to our children when we show and tell them that we love Christ more than we love them? How can you demonstrate to your child that your highest love and loyalty is reserved for Christ?


Homework

Examine each of the instructions in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Make a list of practical ways your family could put each of these instructions into practice and discuss it with your husband. Together, pick one of these practices and implement it with your children this week.


Suggested Memory Verse

Holidays (Other), Mailbag, Parenting

The Mailbag: Mother’s Day Potpourri

Originally published May 3, 2021

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question.

I like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.


This week on the blog, in anticipation of Mother’s Day, it’s all about the mamas. Here’s a roundup of Mailbag articles and other resources on motherhood and parenting…

How can I raise my daughters to be godly women?

Avoiding the Creepers: Six Ways to Raise a Biblically Strong Woman


How can I raise my sons to be godly men?

Six Ways to Raise a Godly Man


Am I violating Scripture’s prohibition on women teaching men by teaching my sons the Bible at home?

Rock Your Role FAQs (#12)


Can you recommend a good Bible study for teen girls?
Can you recommend a devotional I can do with my kids?
How can I teach my kids the Bible?

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Kids’ devotionals, The Chosen- Season 2, Methodist apostasy) (section 1)

The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?

The Mailbag: Potpourri (NBCS, Homeschool resources, Piper…) (section 3)

12 Techniques for Raising Bible-Saturated Kids

Homemade Catechism: 11 Scriptures for Real Life Parenting Situations


Which children’s Bible do you recommend?

The Mailbag: Children’s Bible Recommendations


How can I know if my disabled (or very young) child is saved?

The Mailbag: Salvation and the Mentally Challenged


My young child says she is saved and wants to be baptized. How can I know if she’s really saved and ready for baptism?

A Review of Justin Peters’ “Do Not Hinder Them”


I’m thinking about homeschooling, but I don’t know where to start. Help!

Homeschool Resources


As a stay-at-home / homeschooling mom of boys, how can I make sure they’re getting the male leadership and influence they need during the day while my husband is at work?

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Christian romance novelist, home schooling sons, Spanish resources…) (section 2)


What is your position on birth control or having a planned family size? 

The Mailbag: Christian Women Working, Using Birth Control, and Limiting Family Size

The Mailbag: Should I Risk Another Pregnancy?


Should I cover myself and my baby while breastfeeding for the sake of modesty?

The Mailbag: Should Christian women cover up while breastfeeding?


How can I teach my children about modesty?

Modesty- Part 3 at A Word Fitly Spoken (We suggest you listen to all three parts in order as they build on one another)


Is spanking biblical or abusive?

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Spanking, Women teaching men, Working a homosexual “wedding”…) (section 1)


Can I get some guidance on training my children to behave in church?

Churchmanship 101: Training Your Child to Behave in Church 

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Joni’s testimony, “Messy”, Female seminary profs…) (section 4)

Yes Sir! That’s My Baby!


How do I deal with my unsaved parents who are an ungodly influence on my children?

The Mailbag: Grandparents an Ungodly Influence on My Kids


Biblical advice / information on parenting in general?

Do You Trust God with Your Kids?: 8 Ways to Parent Your Children Like God “Parents” You

Parenting: What a Child Wants, What a Child Needs

Parenting Without Shame

The 10 Commandments of Parenting


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Parenting

Oh, Behave! Training Your Child to Behave in Church

…they all walked sedately into the church. The first clang of the bell rang out when they were on the steps.

After that, there was nothing to do but sit still till the sermon was over. It was two hours long. Almanzo’s legs ached and his jaw wanted to yawn, but he dared not yawn or fidget. He must sit perfectly still and never take his eyes from the preacher’s solemn face and wagging beard. Almanzo couldn’t understand how Father knew that he wasn’t looking at the preacher, if Father was looking at the preacher himself. But Father always did know.

From Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder¹

A hundred and fifty-ish years ago, this is how children were expected to behave in church. I love a good sermon, but I’m not sure even I could meet those behavioral expectations, and, these days, I certainly wouldn’t expect my children to. But fast forward from the 1800’s to 2000’s, and think about how you may have seen some children behave in church. It’s quite a bit different from Almanzo’s experience, wouldn’t you say?

I don’t think we need to dial things back a hundred and fifty years, though. A little fidgeting, a Bible dropped loudly on the floor, a few seconds of wailing while you frantically search for the lost pacifier, a bit of jabbering, none of these things are a big deal. But neither should a toddler be allowed to run up and down the aisles of the sanctuary for the bulk of the sermon. Eight year olds do not need to be crawling around on the floor between the pews playing with toys. Twelve year olds can reasonably be expected to stay awake, sit still, and pay attention during the service.

We expect our children to obey us (and other adults) and behave properly in a variety of places: school, the grocery store, restaurants, on their sports teams, at scout meetings. Why, when the worship service is far more important than any of these, would we not require them to act appropriately in church? And when we require them to behave themselves in all these other venues but not in church, what are we teaching them about the importance of church, reverence, God?

For the past several years, the message coming from many pastors and churches has been, “Your child is welcome in church! Don’t worry if he makes noise!”. Some pastors are known to say things like, “Never mind if your baby cries! I’ll just preach louder!”. It is absolutely true that children of all ages should be made to feel welcome and loved in church, and that the entire congregation should be patient, loving, and understanding with the occasional cry, babble, or fidget. But a few parents seem to hear this welcoming attitude toward children as, “It’s fine for your child to run wild during the sermon or scream his head off for the duration of the worship service.”. That’s not the case. Allowing your child to make noise or misbehave with no attempt to address the situation is unloving and unkind to your church family who, though patient and loving, are being distracted from worship by your child. A loving church is not license for you to shirk your responsibility to them, to God, and to your child to teach him to behave appropriately in church.

But, if you’ll determine in your heart to train your child, you might be surprised at all the blessings and benefits you encounter along the way.

What is appropriate church behavior?

That’s going to vary by age. Obviously, a three year old isn’t going to sit perfectly still for thirty minutes and take sermon notes. But, believe it or not, you can start (and I would strongly recommend) training your child from infancy that church is a place where we sit still, sit quietly, listen when it’s time to listen, and participate when it’s time to participate.

How do I train my child?

The first and best way to train your child is by modeling proper church behavior yourself. Does he see you singing enthusiastically during the worship time? Are you checking your makeup or Facebook during prayer? Are you visibly paying attention during the sermon? Constantly talking to your husband or a friend during the service? Your child will imitate what he sees and take his cues from you as to what is acceptable behavior.

Otherwise, you train your child in church the same way you would train him in any other situation. If you were at a restaurant, and your baby was crying incessantly, you would tend to his needs at the table, or, if you couldn’t, you would take him out to the lobby or outside until he calmed down. The simple act of doing so begins to plant the idea in his mind that a certain level of behavior is expected in that venue.

If your school aged child won’t sit quietly in his seat at school, the teacher administers the appropriate discipline, and, possibly, you do too, at home.

It’s the same way at church. You let your child know what is expected of him behavior-wise at church, praise him when he does well, and administer discipline when he disobeys.

A few helpful hints:

Infants and toddlers:

If your church offers a nursery, there’s no shame in making use of it. As a stay at home mom, I well remember the days when church was the only opportunity I had for a small breather from my children, for adult fellowship, and for hearing God’s word without interruption.

But if you want to have your infant or toddler in church with you, that’s great! Be sure your diaper bag is well stocked with anything you might need to keep a little one relatively still and quiet. Bottles, pacifiers, small snacks that won’t make too much of a mess, some small, soft toys (such as stuffed animals or board books- maybe even a special one that’s only for Sundays) that he can quietly play with in his lap.

Try to choose a seat on the aisle near a door in case you need to make a hasty exit. Also, try to sit somewhere where any noise your child might make won’t be picked up by the pastor’s (or other) microphone.

Older children:

Sometimes well meaning Sunday school teachers serve sugary snacks or other foods/drinks that might make your child jittery. If so, it may be more difficult for him to sit quietly during church. Check out the snack situation in your child’s class, and serve him a breakfast that won’t give him the fidgets.

Make a bathroom/water fountain pit stop before the service a weekly habit. If your child would benefit from running a lap or two outside before the service to work off some energy, make that part of the weekly routine as well.

Dress your child appropriately, yet comfortably for church. I still remember scratchy lace on some of my childhood Sunday dresses. And sitting up against the back of a pew or chair wearing a dress that ties in the back? Absolute torture when that knot dug into my spine. It’s kind of hard to sit still when your entire outfit is conspiring against you.

Get them started on taking notes during the sermon. Give your preschooler some crayons and paper and help him listen for something in the sermon he can draw a picture of (a sheep, Jesus, an angel, a garden…).

Lower elementary aged children might enjoy taking “tally mark” notes. Make a brief list of words your child is likely to hear during the sermon (God, Jesus, Bible, Love…) and instruct him to make a tally mark next to the word any time he hears it during the sermon. Some pre-readers can even attempt this if you draw a couple of small pictures instead of words (a heart for “love,” a cross for “Jesus,” etc.) Before church starts, try to guess with your child which word will get the most marks. After church, count up the marks and see if you were right. You may even want to do your own tally mark sheet during the sermon to model for your child what you want him to do.

Some churches offer a fill in the blank sermon outline in the bulletin. This is a perfect note taking activity for older children and tweens. They can also be encouraged to turn in their Bibles to all the Scriptures the pastor mentions, copy down a verse from the text of the sermon, or write down any questions that occur to them as they listen.

And, speaking of questions, another fun activity is for each family member to write down a couple of questions, and their answers, from the sermon. Then, in the car on the way home, each person gets to ask his questions. Whoever gets the most correct answers gets to pick what’s for lunch (or bragging rights, or something else fun). It’ll keep EVERYONE paying attention, and it’s a great way to reinforce and discuss the sermon.

Attend church every Sunday. Not only is it biblical to attend faithfully, but children thrive on routine, and it will be easier for them to remember how to behave if they’re learning and practicing those behavior skills weekly instead of in a “hit and miss” fashion.

Children with Disabilities

Believe it or not, I actually do have some experience in this area. For several years, I taught at two different state schools for the deaf, working with deaf students and students with multiple disabilities. After that, I worked for a couple of years as an advisor, advocate, and service provider for disabled students at a large state university. I’m not unsympathetic to parents of children with disabilities and to the issues disabilities cause.

Since there is such a wide range of disabilities that may cause noise or behavior issues in church, I can’t offer specific suggestions that would apply to every child with a disability. So let me just offer a few general thoughts:

Like every other parent, you have to address your child’s noise and behavior in a way that’s appropriate to his age and abilities, whatever those may be. Your child’s disability does not relieve you of the responsibility to train him and address his issues as best you can. Ask and trust God to help and equip you to know and do what’s right for your child.

When it comes right down to it, in church, noise is noise, and distraction is distraction, whether it’s coming from an adult who can’t stop coughing, a baby who won’t stop crying, or your child’s particular issue. When it’s in our power to address a distraction – our own or our child’s – we should make every effort to do so.

Get some wise counsel. Ask your child’s doctor, teacher, therapist, social worker, etc. for some help. Do you have a clear picture of what your child is and isn’t capable of? Are you expecting too much or too little of him? Are there any helpful suggestions they can offer for managing his issues in church? Ask other parents of children with the same disability as your child for any tips or tricks they’ve learned. What has worked? What hasn’t worked? Ask your pastor if there’s any reasonable accommodation that could be made for your child that hasn’t been, such as adjustments to the light or sound, accessibility adjustments, piping the sermon audio into an adjacent room, etc.

Get some help. Could some of your brothers and sisters at church help out in some way? Some of the suggestions in my article Providentially Hindered: Is Your Church Taking Care of Caretakers? might help, or may be a springboard for other ideas.

Training your child to behave well in church isn’t easy at times. I know. I have six children and we have raised all of them in church. But if you and your husband will invest the time and effort, everyone benefits. Your pastor will be able to preach uninterrupted. Your fellow church members will be able to worship undistracted. Once your child begins to behave himself better, you will be able to focus more on the service and be less frazzled. But most importantly, your child will develop the skills necessary for hearing and paying attention to God’s word being proclaimed, and what a blessing that will be to him now, and for the rest of his life.

What are some things that have worked well
to help your child behave in church?


¹Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy  (New York: Harper Collins, 1933), 90-91
This article was originally published at Satisfaction Through Christ, and has been updated and modified.
Church, Ministry, Parenting

Throwback Thursday ~ Anonymous Parent’s Letter to a Youth Pastor

Originally published September 23, 2013

Trevin Wax is one of my favorite bloggers.1 Today he wrote an absolutely awesome piece called Anonymous Youth Pastor’s Letter to a Parent. It talked about some of the struggles youth pastors go through and how we as parents of youth can support our kids’ youth pastors better. I commented that the next article should come from the parent’s perspective, and that, being a parent of youth, boy, could I write that article. One of Trevin’s readers suggested I go ahead and write it, and I thought it sounded like a fun and challenging project, so here’s the result.  (The first three paragraphs are an homage to Trevin’s letter.)


CAVEAT: This is addressed to an amalgam or “everyman” youth pastor, not to any of my kids’ youth pastors/workers past or present. In fact, some of the things I mention in the letter are things my kids’ youth pastors got RIGHT that I really appreciated.


Dear Youth Pastor,

I need to get something off my chest.

When I first put my child into your youth group, you told me how excited you were to be showing my kids what it means to love Jesus, be part of His Church, and grow as a Christian. You told me you were praying for my child and that you had his back. You had high hopes for the youth ministry.

I had high hopes too. But I must confess that I am frustrated right now because I feel like you’re working against me, not with me.

My husband and I are Christian parents doing our best to pour the gospel into our children every day.  We understand that we are the ones responsible to God for the spiritual upbringing of our children, and we take that responsibility seriously. Very seriously. And that includes what he is exposed to in youth group.

“Let no one look down on your youth” notwithstanding, you’re 25. I love you all to pieces, but you know nothing about parenting a teenager. I repeat: nothing. No, the fact that you and your wife have an infant or a three year old does not qualify you as a veteran parent. I have a couple of decades of life experience and parenting on you. I remember being 25. It was that glorious time of my life when I knew everything and had fresh ideas that people in their 40s just wouldn’t understand because they had passed the “cool” stage of life.

Look deep into my eyes, Bub. I am your future.

Listen to me when I explain to you that my kids don’t need another peer. They need mature, godly leadership. Not a buddy. Not an idol to be emulated with the latest clothes from Abercrombie, the hippest glasses frames, edgy tattoos and piercings, and enough product in your hair to put bouffanted church ladies to shame.

You are not a rock star.

You’re a teacher. You’re a caretaker of young souls, and you’re influencing them for eternity. One way or the other. And one day, you’ll stand in front of God and answer for the way you led my, and other parents’, children. Makes your knees knock a little, doesn’t it? Good. It should.

So, when I drop my child off at your youth Bible study or Sunday School class, here’s what I expect. When you say you want to “show my kids what it means to love Jesus, be part of His Church, and grow as a Christian,” I expect that to mean that you will teach them the Bible. Not some watered down, comic book, MTV, “What does this verse mean to you?” version of a Bible story, but the whole counsel of God. I want you to put more time and effort into prayer and studying God’s word so you can teach it properly than you put into hooking up the oh-so-fabulous light show and making inane videos that appeal only to the basest nature of eighth grade boys.

Do you know what these kids are learning in school? If they can be expected to learn Shakespeare and higher math, you can expect them to learn sound biblical doctrine.

When you’re choosing a Bible study curriculum or DVD, or you’re looking at a Christian camp or concert to take the kids to, do your homework. Just because somebody claims to be a Christian author, speaker, pastor, or worship leader doesn’t make it true. Where is this person, doctrinally? What’s his church background and training? Listen to his sermons. Examine the lyrics of her songs. Read some of his books. Does this person rightly divide the Word of truth? Does he exalt Christ and revere God’s word? Does he call sinners- my child and the other children in your youth group- to repentance and faith in Christ, or are his sermons an exercise in navel gazing and nagging about how to be a better person?

Lead my children to serve the church. And I’m not talking about getting paid to do it, either. They’re old enough to help clean up after Wednesday night supper, help in the nursery, assist with a children’s class, serve at a senior citizens’ banquet, work at a church work day, help set up chairs and tables, etc. Over the last few years, the youth group has become the entitlement community of the church, always asking for handouts and rarely giving anything back. Let’s teach them to serve. Because the youth that serve today will be the adults that serve tomorrow.

Teach my children that a mission trip is not a glorified vacation, and that missions isn’t just feeding the hungry or building houses for the homeless. Missions is proclaiming the gospel before and after and while they’re doing those things. Teach my children how to share the gospel properly and encourage them to do it often.

Lead by example:

1. Plan ahead and be organized. If you know you’re going to need to do six fundraisers for youth camp, start them in September and space them out over a few months. Don’t wait until mid-April and have one every weekend. Show up on time. Secure your parent chaperones and drivers well in advance. Follow through on what you say you’re going to do.

2. Obey those in authority over you. Whether that means following the pastor’s instructions or obeying the speed limit and not putting 20 people in a 15 passenger van, when you flout the rules, you’re tacitly teaching my kids to do the same.

3. Be a man, not an overgrown adolescent. Boys, especially, need to see strong examples of what it means to be a godly man, and these are becoming rarer and rarer in the church. They already know how to be adolescents. Show them how to be men.

4. Prioritize safety and chaperonage. Do you know how many horror stories I’ve heard about children dying in church van wrecks on the way back from youth camp, and youth sneaking off and having sex during a lock in? I don’t want that to be my kid. I love him far more than you could ever think about loving him. Don’t be lax about keeping him safe and monitoring his whereabouts and behavior.

And, finally, my dear youth pastor, know that I love you and want to come alongside you and help in any way I can. You see, my husband used to be a youth pastor, so I know it’s a tough and often thankless job. I’m praying for you as you seek to disciple that band of crazed teenagers in the youth room.

Go with God, dear youth pastor. Go with God.


1Keep in mind that this was written in 2013. I no longer follow Trevin Wax and I don’t know much about what he’s up to these days except that he’s still with TGC, which I don’t recommend.