Posts Tagged ‘parents’

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).

Adolescents, in an attempt to find the sources of their own being and arrive at self-definition, sometimes use the device of denial or rejection. In search of personal faith they reject everything that is impersonal or institutional.” (p.22)

Peterson points out that “children” are learners and adults are “deciders.” As adolescents begin to practice and experiment with decision-making, it puts the adults in their lives in a less comfortable position.

We are unavoidably a part of the decisions, confusions, roller coasters of emotions, and yes, the high points of great clarity of the young people with whom we are close. Our temptation in the middle of all that may be to provide some rapid stability, to “fix” the sentiments that seem “wrong,” and perhaps even to respond personally to the denial and rejections.

Okay, so here is the 100-million-dollar question: How do we take things less personally?

I find myself suddenly thin-skinned at unexpected moments. I didn’t see it coming. After 26 years of youth/young adult ministry and five teens of my own I thought I understood enough to rise above. I know in my head that the moments of rejection, personal attacks, even accusatory comments that are part of this world say more about the person generating them than the person receiving them. And I know that in the world of teens and young adults the person generating them does not generally even have the self-awareness to know what they are doing. But still I find myself embracing darts and licking wounds.

How about you? Do you find yourself embracing and “stewing” over remarks that are not premeditated and quickly forgotten…instead of rejoicing that the process of maturity is at work in a young person’s life?

I freely admit this is tougher in the area of faith than any other arena. I can flex on almost any other issue. But my faith and the rituals that help me express my faith are central to who I am. Can I really allow kids that I love to wrestle with doubt…to push away from my rituals…to challenge my expressions and experience of faith…while I am trusting God to complete His work in them!?

I’ve got way more questions than answers here…but I serve a trustworthy God! His faithfulness is my confidence. Meanwhile, what have you learned to help you navigate these waters well?

(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 10 weeks to become part of the discussion.

Any child of moderate perception, having lived for over a decade under the same roof with parents, knows that just because they are Christians and go to church on Sundays does not mean they are also saints. The child knows they sin daily. Now is the time to talk about that.” (p. 24)

Is Eugene Peterson right? Those of us with children have a lot invested in our kids. Is a polished image, an intense public relations campaign and a handful of success stories the best way to pass on our faith…to make disciples? Or does adolescence allow us as parents the wonderful gift of stripping all that away and becoming real again?

Who were some of the first adults who shared their authentic walk with you? How did that make a difference in your owning your faith?

(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.

Only two comments on the book blog. Not quite the discussion I envisioned yet! 🙂

However, WordPress tells me that there have been 336 views from 7 countries as we have explored the first two chapters together.

Also one person caught me in person at a ballgame to say that they have their book marked up and are sharing it with four others. That was great to hear!

I take these two items as confirmation that this is being helpful. Let me know if there are ways it could become more so!

I recently heard the world’s most foremost expert on millipedes explain why he had left his research to go into student ministry. He decided that God was worthy of his best effort and there was no more strategic thing he could do to change the world.

I agree. Thanks for loving teens. I’m blessed to walk this journey with you.