Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Popularity Contest

“If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” -Gal. 1:10

We all like to be liked. That process begins early in life. Of course, our nature is to be at the top of the list. During our growing years, we try to be picked first for teams in elementary school, be voted to safety counsel in junior high (which I just missed in 5th grade. I wanted to wear that safety belt so badly!), be chosen “most popular” in high school and get in that perfect sorority in college. “Dress right, speak right, act right, do right and maybe, just maybe people will like you.” That formula kinda works through the school years, but in the parenting years, that formula can spell disaster.

I’ve learned as much in my years of leadership with Doulos Ministries. As I often share, my job is pretty simple because I work with some phenomenally talented men and women. I feel like Phil Jackson coaching the Chicago Bulls in the 90’s. It seems like all he really had to do, as the coach of the Jordan’s and Pipin’s, was to say, “men, go out there and play hard.” They did and they won championships. I just keep the Doulos leaders headed the right direction and they do a great job. It is an honor to work with my friends. But occasionally they need a coach. It’s then that I have to take a deep breath and remind myself of my role. It’s then that I have to pray, “Lord, I am here to be used by You first. If that means the friendships waver, then so be it. Please be my strength.”

A few weekend’s ago, we had our Shelterwood Family Retreat. It’s a wonderful time of fellowship and ministry and I’m always impressed with the quality and humility of the parents. I was talking with a mom about her struggles with her daughter. The family is making progress, but the daughter is furious with mom because mom is saying “no” and setting boundaries. Tears flowed as mom described the rejection by her daughter. But the weekend improved as daughter reacted to the boundaries created by her mom. I’ve found, in my years of counseling, that though teens might initially respond with anger, deep inside they respond with relief to the structure initiated by loving parents. You see it in smaller children that aren't afraid to be vulnerable. When I used to discipline our 2 kids, they would stick even closer to me throughout the day.

Being a parent is not about being liked, it’s about being used. Too often these days, parents opt to be friends more than parents. As one football coach most eloquently put it, “enough of this friendship crap. Teenagers need a parent, not a friend.”

Let God use you as He desires in the life of your teen. They’ll like you sometimes and they won't like you other times. Setting boundaries, plans, curfews and allowances will usually be sticky. Standing up for what’s right can be tough. But being the loving parent your child needs is all that matters. Winning that contest is the greatest prize of all!

By Joseph Staples ©

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