Who Are Your Kids Associating With?
by Joey & Carla Link
I remember the day Carla told me about two teenage girls who knocked at our door and asked “Is Michael there?” These girls were dressed in a way no mother would want her son to be looking at. Thankfully, Michael wasn’t home. When Michael and I got home, his sisters told him about the girls and described their tight black mini-skirts and knee high black boots in great detail. Michael immediately said they were looking for trouble and he needed to find them before they found it.
How would you respond if Michael was your 17 year old son? Every parent should be training their kids to know what they believe and how to hang around non-Christians so they can bring those who don’t know Jesus Christ into a saving knowledge of Him. Too often however, parents stop their teens from being in the world (but not part of it). Parents fear their teens will be contaminated by the world so they build a protective wall around them. At some point, parents need to let their mature teens outside this wall and give them the freedom to show their spiritual strength but only when they are ready for it.
Jesus experienced this first hand in the second chapter of Mark when he and his disciples went to the tax collector’s house. Many of Levi’s co-workers were eating dinner with him. (In those days, tax collectors were thought of in the same way as drug dealers today). The Pharisees (pastors and church leaders) came to the disciples asking them, “Why does Jesus eat with tax collectors and sinners?” In other words, why would you allow your teens to hang out at the mall with kids that don’t know Jesus, or allow your younger kids to play with the kids of families who don’t go to church (under your supervision of course)?
Jesus heard the question and said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor,
but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus knew if He was going to impact people who didn’t know Him, He would have to hang out with them to show them who He was and what He teaches and that He thought they were important enough to spend His time with. In the same way, if you and your family are going to show the world Jesus, then you are going to have to hang around with them so they can see Jesus in you.
We believe parents should not sacrifice your children’s innocence or compromise your family’s beliefs and convictions to reach out to your kids’ peers. Notice here, Jesus did not send his disciples to the tax collector’s house, He went and they followed, learning from Him as they went from place to place. After Jesus died, He sent his disciples into the world to tell them about what they had seen and heard during their time with Him. In the same way, when your kids are in elementary and middle school, you should be with them when they are around non-Christians.
- Are you training your kids to impact their world vs. the world influencing them?
- What are you doing to train your kids to stand up for their faith and live it not only at home and church, but with non-Christian friends as well?
- Do your kids see you and hear you talk to non-Christians so they can watch and learn from you?
- Have you talked to them about what you believe and why you believe it? Two good resources that we have used with our kids and highly recommend them for older teens and college students are “Know What You Believe” and “Know Why You Believe” by Paul Little. Go through these books with your teens for an enriching experience for all of you.
Michael did go after the two girls and stopped them from doing some foolish things. They were only two of many unsaved teens in the high school band our son hung out with. Can you imagine my joy when I walked out the door of my house one afternoon to find our son and one of these girls sitting on our porch going through a Christian book? Michael was mentoring her in the faith. We lost contact with these teens when Michael went away to college. One Saturday, years later, Carla and I were having a garage sale and one of these girls stopped by and asked if we remembered her. She told us Michael was the only true gentleman she had ever met, the only Christian who ever showed her respect. She said that when she was tempted to do things she knew were wrong, she often thought of Michael and what she knew his reaction would be, and that alone often stopped her from doing it. Wow! For a parent, it doesn’t get better than that!
The question remains, will the world impact your teens, or are you training your kids to grow up to impact the world for Jesus Christ?