Archive for February, 2013

Tonight I had dinner at my oldest daughter’s apartment. I had worked late and missed my ride. She and her husband live downtown. She offered to come get me, feed me dinner, and drive me home. It was a great meal.

Yesterday I coached my youngest son in a basketball game. He was double-teamed for much of the game by some great players, but kept his head and the ball and led his team to a win. Their tournament begins this weekend. They will do great.

This evening I talked with my youngest daughter about job possibilities and driver’s permits and school trips and homework. And she asked if she could have my “vintage” UK wildcats sweatshirt. She’s a great kid.

This afternoon I received an email from my oldest son’s guidance counselor at the school of his choice. They are preparing to send out his award letter. Sunday he played keyboard and sang with the worship team at church. Tomorrow is opening night of his final high school play. His talent has given him some great opportunities.

I enjoyed texting my middle daughter this week. Away at college we still “talked” college basketball, Birthday Banquet, family news etc with the use of our thumbs and a phone. We have a great and easy friendship.

You know what? I realized that I don’t love these kids the way I used to. Not the way I did when I held them in those first few minutes…or the way I did when they took those first steps forward (or in Caleb’s case, up a ladder!)…or the way I did when they colored an original for me and Annamarie. No….my love has grown.

Don’t get me wrong. It has not all been sweet greenhouse loving. There have been storms…dry seasons…hot, scorching suns. But my love has not only survived…it is far greater than I ever could have imagined.

There is some great stuff to unpack in this chapter. But for tonight, answer me this: As your love has grown, what are some things that you are grateful for and simply love in your teen that you could not enjoy in the same way when they were a child?

(This post is inspired by chapter 7 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 6 weeks to become part of the discussion).

Halftime

Posted: February 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

If you have been part of this experiment, you know that we are halfway through Eugene Peterson’s book “Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager.” If not, please wander back through the posts on the first 6 chapters. Either way, I’d love to know what you would like to see as we finish the book.

What works well for you?

What do you wish was done differently?

Why do you come (or did you come this time) to the blog?

Thanks for helping me get ready for the second half!

Parents are ‘the architects of the family’; they are in a position and have the power to reshape the atmosphere and reestablish the trust.” (Clinebell quoted in Peterson, p 49)

Peterson asks “What kind of trust relationship do you have with God? Do you trust Him? Does He trust you? How do you show your trust for Him? How does He treat you?” Those are great questions, but unless our answers are informed by Scripture revealing that nature and character of God, our answers may only be reinforcing bad theology.

Here’s a hint about God’s modus operandi: Who did He trust with evangelizing the world…with making disciples of all nations? Here are a few more: Who did God trust with leading his people out of Egypt? With rescuing the spies in Jericho? With being the first King of Israel?

We are both teachers and learners of trust – as disciples we are learners, as parents we are teachers. And we teach best when we teach what we have experienced from our Heavenly Father, not from our environment in this broken and sinful world. Do you remember what it was like at the beginning….Were you trustworthy? I may not know you well reader, but I am confident of the answer. You were no more trustworthy than I….and I was a sinner. “God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Peterson claims that in “matters that are at the very core of our existence, we learn through demonstration, by having truth done to and for us. The One who is the very embodiment of Truth revealed what we could not know on our own. That Truth is self-sacrificial love. And so “we love because he first loved us.” (I John 4:19)

But what happens if we try to play it safe…if we choose not to risk….not to love…not to trust? According to Peterson, “if parents refuse to trust until their children prove that they are worthy of being trusted, trust will simply not develop.” (p. 50)

Mom and Dad, friend of teens…those kids you and I love will have a shot at learning to receive the love and trust of God as we model it for them. How does that square with good stewardship? I think we need someone to articulate a good theology of risk….anyone up for it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

(This post is inspired by chapter 6 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 7 weeks to become part of the discussion).

To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” George MacDonald.

It’s almost too simple. We learn caring by being cared for. We learn to trust by being trusted. And to teach others, we need to extend trust and care to them.

This creates a real bind, doesn’t it? Many of us have been around long enough to put great stock in sayings like “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” or to “know” from experience that a person who lets you down once will do it again…and again…and again. We want people to earn our trust, to show us beyond risk that they are worthy of whatever we give to them.

But adolescence is a time of great insecurity. Teens are learning to make decisions. The learning curve is steep. And the result is not always trustworthy behavior, but inconsistency and greater insecurity.

Peterson uses the image of a young child learning to walk. The parents are cheerleaders, encouraging risk and overlooking failure as they celebrate the success that will be. Is that a good image for teaching adolescents to be trustworthy? Why or why not?

Who trusted you? Had you earned it…or was it a gift you grew into?

(This post is inspired by chapter 6 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 7 weeks to become part of the discussion).

Valentine’s Day

Posted: February 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

So how does your teenager feel about Valentine’s Day? Do you know? Have you asked?

I can’t tell you the number of teens who in the past 10 days or so have confided that they “really hate Valentine’s Day!”

Of course not all kids think alike. But I won’t say anything more. I don’t want to spoil what could be a great conversation with you and your student.

The capacity to relate to another person in a caring way is an achievement of maturity.” BOOM!

This isn’t Peterson’s point, but here is a great gut-check. Am I mature? Well, do I relate to others in a caring way? He goes on:

Young people have moments when they care, but it is not characteristic among them to have the sustained strength and emotional stability for the faithful caring of another.” (p. 43)

According to Peterson, you learn caring by being cared for. So what happens when a generation reaches “adulthood” without having been cared for in such a way that they are capable of caring for others? (That is a lot of uses of the word “care!” I typed it and I had to reread it!) Unfortunately, Peterson doesn’t weigh in on this one. But we are there in North America, aren’t we?

Dr. Chap Clark and Fuller Youth Institute have both done a great job of chronicling what Chap calls “generations of systemic abandonment.” Where have you seen the effects of systemic abandonment in adults?

Peterson does not worry about the greater culture here, but engages us as individuals to remind us that differences are an occasion for an exchange of personal love, faith and hope.

What a great reminder! How would it change the lives of those around us if we used words like surprise, delight, interesting, joy, admiration, affection, expectation and exciting to characterize generational differences in our minds and to set our expectations for encounters with others of a different age….especially with those who are 10 to 30 years old?

(This post is inspired by chapter 5 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 7 weeks to become part of the discussion).

 “Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”       George Orwell

What if the much-maligned “generation gap” were a gift instead of a curse? What if every age had gifts and graces and unique abilities that would go unseen without the catalyst of another generation to bring them to full maturity? What if wrestling through the differences between the ages were not only part of their discipleship, but our own?

Peterson encourages us to look at Joel 2:28 and I John 2:13. What differences do the Biblical authors highlight? Can we draw any implications from this?

Avoiding the ditch of abdication, self-deprecation and withdrawal, while conversely avoiding the ditch of pontification and bluster, those of us who are older are challenged to accept our calling as adults in this time and place in history.

What does that mean? For one thing, it means coming to terms with intimacy. We have had the opportunity to move past the self-doubt and uncertainty of adolescence. We have had the opportunity to risk being vulnerable and to become genuinely close with another. One of the great questions of adolescence is one of belonging and intimacy. Who loves me/who do I love? “The parent generation has the obligation first to achieve and then to demonstrate intimacy – to show that it is possible and to show what it looks like.” (p.43)

My experience in youth ministry in a rapidly changing culture tells me that this issue is one of the great obstacles to successfully reaching adolescents. We as adults often have no idea of what true intimacy is and therefore are unable to model it. Is that too harsh an indictment? Where have you seen true intimacy modeled in a way that is winsome to all ages? How do you reach across the “generation gap?”

My apologies for the late update this week.

(This post is inspired by chapter 5 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 7 weeks to become part of the discussion).

Authority loses its moral force and spiritual energy when it becomes authoritarian.” (Peterson, p.36)

A dictator in a home or in a nation chooses the way of quick returns…There can be a subtle parental pride in exactuing obedience, much like bringing a dog to heel. ‘Good’ children can be displayed, to the parent’s advantage.” (Lionel Whiston, quoted in Peterson, p. 38)

When I graduated from college I moved hundreds of miles from home for my first full-time job. I was engaged, but not yet married. I knew only one other person in the city. So I bought myself a puppy and began to teach him with my spare time. It quickly occured to me that if I trained him to be obedient, he could come with me to the YMCA where I was a volunteer soccer coach. It was rewarding to me to see how quickly he learned and how consistently he obeyed. As a result of significant and consistent attention for those first six months we were together before the wedding, I received praise for the rest of his life for how well mannered and well trained he was. I honestly enjoyed that and began to take some pride in what I good parent I would “obviously” be someday.

The Lord had to humble me after I had my first two children. One day He pulled back a veil from my eyes and let me see my pride and my foolishness. I was not training puppies, I was raising children. I had to weep and repent! He was the primary parent, not me. It was my privilege to join Him. I suddenly saw parenting in terms of stewardship and hospitality, not behavioral outcomes!

Peterson gets at this same issue, I think, when he quotes John Updike on the importance of seeing our children “not as our creations, but our guests, people who enter the world at our invitation…”

Do you agree? When we see parenting in terms of stewardship and hospitality instead of behavioral outcomes, how does that change things? Does that impact decision-making within the family? Does this mean we have to be willing to be embarrassed at times? What does this mean for allowing disagreement? How will parenting like this increase our own discipleship?

Erik Erikson suggests that the problem with forcing obedient behavior is that the parent does not have to become an adult to do so. You don’t have to grow up. You don’t have to learn courtesy or deference or understanding. You are in fact authorized to remain arbitrary and inconsistent. It seems to me that if authority is framed by “because I said so!” then the world view being taught is that whoever is the strongest wins. That may be practical in politics, but it is not a Kingdom worldview. And it is destructive to discipleship.

Peterson uses Luke 2:41-51 to demonstrate that authority when challenged does not bluster, is courteous and is not coercive. He also encourages us to meditate on the authority of our Heavenly Father. He disciplines, but He does not push His children around. How do you understand the discipline of the Lord from Scripture? Is the model craftsman with an apprentice a good model? What is the role of training and instruction? Do you agree with Peterson that “the heart of discipline, and the most biblical expression of authority, is careful attention that guides growth“?

(This post is inspired by chapter 4 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 8 weeks to become part of the discussion).

“But once the child reaches adolescence the parents must spend much more time and attention on the way they exercise authority and correspondingly less on worrying whether obedience is forthcoming.
(p. 31 emphasis added)

I love this chapter. It challenges me, it encourages me and it invites me to be transformed! Here is one of Peterson’s great paragraphs:

“Challenges to personal authority – commonplace in adolescence – cannot be settled simply by quoting Saint Paul: ‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.’ Adolescents are quite likely to have read the letter to the Ephesians, too, and able to do some quoting of their own: ‘Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.'” (Ephesians 6:1, 4)

I believe that we teach much about reality…and do much to shape worldview in the way we handle power and authority. I believe our internal hard-wiring to ask “Why?” at an early age is a gift that is foundational to the discipleship of both the child and the parent. Take your own experience out of the equation for a few minutes and think with me:

* What does the answer “because I said so!” or “because I am the parent?” communicate about authority….about power?
* What does it teach about who (or Who) is in control?
* How important is it for the young child to hear an answer that reveals that we are under authority…that we ourselves are accountable….that we are stewards…that God is love and we are His imperfect agents?
* Have you ever thought about the question “why?” (in all its forms) as a gift from God to your own sanctification?

When a young person moves into early adolescence they begin to attempt to appropriate for him or herself what they have learned. As they seek a healthy level of autonomy, how do we best teach about authority and power? Is it helping them to act in the role of a child….or an adult?

Like a belayer letting out more rope for the climb and yet holding the climber secure, how do we do navigate this adventure?

The One who belays us is LOVE. And He calls us to be like Him. So perhaps the critical question is “What does LOVE do with power? What is the source of His authority?

Andrew Murray talks about Revelation 7:17 being the most important verse in literature anywhere in all of history.

For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”

What this verse reveals is absolutely unthinkable, unknowable aside from Divine Revelation. And it is central to understanding reality. Authority is not about raw exercise of power, position, popularity, who you know, how much money you have, whether others like you, or any such thing. Power itself is not what holds the universe together.

The Pantocrator, the One who rules all things, is revealed as LOVE – both in who He is and what He does. At the center of the throne is a lamb who is a shepherd. Are you shouting praises, reader!? This is amazing revelation! The result of wrestling with that verse and all of its implications years ago forever changed me, my worldview, my parenting and my ministry.

Adolescence provides a wonderful opportunity for us to examine afresh if our practice of power and authority is harsh, crushing, demonic, positional, etc or if it is the often messy, always nurturing and sometimes painful surrender to LOVE.

Tell me what you think. And get a book. 🙂 This is good stuff!

(This post is inspired by chapter 4 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 8 weeks to become part of the discussion).

“The saying of no is the first step in discovering how to say yes.” (p 28)

This was to be the start of another post….but I worked 39 hours in the last three days. And my wife who has been gone all week returns home anytime. I will give this week’s Thursday post on Friday.

Saying yes tomorrow means saying no right now!

Meanwhile, here is a great set of questions from Peterson’s chapter.

Why do you go to church?

What does it mean to you?

What does the actual act of worship mean to you personally?

How is it important in your life?

(Have you ever talked to your kid about it?)

And why do you want your kid to go to church even when he or she doesn’t feel like it?

(This post is inspired by chapter 3 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 9 weeks to become part of the discussion.