So Mark you ask, why is it that so often kids from wonderful, brilliant, godly homes with wonderful, brilliant, godly parents come along to youth group and think that the most wonderful, brilliant, godly person in the world is the new youth worker? Especially as the most wonderful, brilliant, godly person in the new youth worker’s eyes is the youth’s parents?
Well, let me tell you something, this is because all young people are sinners in some measure and so all of them find ways to dishonour their father and mother. But if I was to push it further than that and offer a way parents let them get away with that, I’d say it can be because frequently Christians disconnect their ministry from the rest of their lives and when parents do that, their kids miss how godly and brilliant their parents are. We’re often told “keep ministry and family separate” —which is an epic miss-statement due for more attention at some point— and because of that children our hidden from the ministry. “They shouldn’t have to worry about such things” or other such logic is often put forward. But this means kids don’t see their parents minister to others, and don’t experience their parents joy at others conversions, and don’t see their sorrow over others suffering, and don’t see their parents suffering for the gospel.
But then a youth minister comes along, and they see them lead bible studies, and hear them talk about their week, and learn of the things and ministry of a youth minister and they think “wow, what a wonderful, godly person this person is” which is unfortunate not least because they’ve got much better examples of Godliness in their parents, but also because it teaches them a false model of ministering to others. The model they see is that the extra stuff a Christian is called to do as a youth worker is charged with on top of their personal ministry is the only stuff that is true ministry. This isn’t great for anything other than the ego of the youth minister which is a shame, because the only thing that a youth minister’s ego really needs is shooting.
Here are some thoughts on this situation. We as youth workers would do better to present ourselves more holistically, as people who minister to their peers too, but more than that we’d do better if we promoted the parents, and told the children how godly we think their parents are. Parents, it’d also be great if you took your child and prayerfully brought them into your ministry, so that they saw your godliness. It could be something as simple as just having them sit at the table when you have people over for dinner and sharing in the ministry of hospitality.
Hudson Taylor tells the story of his mother’s prayers for his conversion.
I little knew what was going on in the heart of my dear mother. She arose from the dinner-table with an intense yearning for the conversion of her boy, and feeling that, being from home, and having more leisure than she otherwise would, there was a special opportunity afforded her of pleading with God for me. She went to her bedroom, and turned the key in the door, and resolved not to leave the room until her prayers were answered. Hour after hour did that dear mother plead for me, until she could only praise God for the conversion of her son. In the meantime, as I was reading the tract, ‘The Finished Work of Christ,’ a light was flashed into my soul by the Holy Spirit, that there was nothing to be done, but to fall ‘on my knees and accept this Savior and his salvation, and praise God forevermore. While my mother was praising God in her closet, I was praising Him in the old warehouse where I had retired to read my book. When I met mother the door on her return with the glad news, she said: “I know, my boy; I have been rejoicing for a fortnight in the glad tidings you have to tell me!”
The story is immense in itself, but notice how he knows of his mother’s prayers for him, presumably his mother told him of her prayers and sufferings for him. I assume he knew something of how godly his parents were.