Grounded in Christ, Your Children – Part 1

I recently received an interesting e-mail, and with permission we will use it as the beginning for this month’s Dad’s Corner. Following is the first part of the e-mail:

My husband and I attended a recent conference of yours. We were so blessed by it. We wanted to say thank you. My husband decided after listening to Manager of His Home that our children were no longer going to go to youth group on Wednesday nights. He did this because we started noticing changes in our children.

Our children hadn’t gone to youth group for six weeks when the pastor came by and asked us why our children weren’t attending. My husband told him that a big part of it was the secular rock and roll they were playing. Our children were coming home humming it. 🙁 We were told that they believe if your children are firmly grounded in Christ it will not affect them. I couldn’t help but think about our twenty-one-year-old daughter who wound up getting into secular music due to a youth group and her dad and me not having her heart. We didn’t want that for our other children.

Praise the Lord for this dad taking action to protect his children. Ephesians 6:4 tells us, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Dad is the one God holds responsible for discipling the children, and we must evaluate the influences in our children’s lives to make sure they are moving them in the right direction. Anything that may hinder a child’s spiritual growth needs to be evaluated. This dad made a good decision.

However, as a result of the decision to pull the children out of youth group, it caused some pressure in the dad’s life. We dads need to be prepared that it will take strength and courage to follow the Lord as we raise our children. Let’s decide where in our priorities raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord ranks. Once we make the right choice, we can expect pressure to come and test our resolve. A priority means nothing if when tested we cave in. We need to welcome pressure because it proves and refines our determination to follow the Lord obediently.

Since much of this Dad’s Corner series revolves around youth groups, let me give some background comments concerning them. I have met many youth group leaders and pastors over the years, and I have heard them share their deep love and concern for the youth to which they minister. Amen. Generally, they have a sincere desire to reach the kids who aren’t living in a home where they are being discipled. Please don’t feel this Dad’s Corner is a personal criticism of youth group leaders. It isn’t. Instead this Corner addresses flaws in the youth group in regard to our readers who are dads who are discipling their children as the Lord leads.

Now, notice that Ephesians 6:4 is addressed to fathers. It doesn’t say youth pastors. Dad is the one God gives the responsibility to disciple the children, and Dad is the one who will answer to God. What if we want to delegate some of our responsibility to the one in charge of youth group? Certainly, that could be our choice, but there are several things we ought to consider. Since Dad is the one God is holding responsible for how the children are being discipled, how will we be sure they are being influenced consistently with the direction and leading God has called our family to? Unless we are willing to accompany the children to every meeting, we can’t know. Considering there will be multiple children in the group, how likely is it that the discipling in the group is consistent with all the fathers’ direction since seldom will each family be truly like-minded. The above e-mail example showed that the family did not agree with the music played at youth group, and a youth group similar to this one cost them the heart of their oldest daughter. Wisely, the dad did not want that to happen with the younger children and was willing to take a stand.

Let’s consider the statement: “If your children are firmly grounded in Christ, then it will not affect them.” When is a person firmly grounded in Christ, and even if they are, does that mean they won’t be tempted toward evil? Sadly, we have talked to many parents who trusted that their children were spiritually mature enough to stay the course only for the parents to be heartbroken later. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:17).

One reason youth groups can be so subtly harmful is that many will think since the church is offering it, it must be good. It is possible that youth have spiritually matured to where they can refuse obvious evil, but when it is the church’s activity, the child’s defenses will be let down. They will embrace it because the church is offering it, and Dad and Mom have endorsed it by sending them to the youth group. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (1 Corinthians 10:23). In reality the secular music played during the youth group would not be edifying, and as with this family’s other daughter, it might even pull the heart away from the Lord.

There is also tremendous internal pressure by most children to be accepted by the peers in the group. I’ve heard some say that one of the greatest pressures a person can feel is the need to be accepted. Therefore, peer groups likely exert some of the greatest pressure to conform that any of us will ever experience. Let me share an example with you. Years ago we were in a fairly conservative church. Despite the conservative nature of the church, many of the girls were pushing the limits in their “dress” and definitely lacking modesty standards. Our daughter, who was then eighteen, confided to us that she was feeling turmoil inside because she wanted to fit in with the other girls but didn’t want to do what they were doing. That peer pressure was experienced just by causal associations with the girls at church. Consider the peer pressure that comes from even more involvement in the peer group. Do we really think our children will be stronger than that?

This gets us started on the discussion of the father’s role of spiritual discipleship of his children versus others taking that role. In addition there is much more to be said about the power of peer pressure in a young person’s life. Next month we will continue looking into this, but for now, I encourage you to evaluate whether you have let others disciple your children or whether you are fully undertaking that responsibility. Can you make the hard decisions like this dad has made?