Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” In my teenage years, my parents sent me to Evangel Christian School in Woodbridge, VA. Through the ministry at the school, I came to know the Lord. Though I was transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His dear Son instantly by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, I was being transformed into Christ-likeness gradually.
My most difficult years were 8-10th grade. I think I annoyed all the teachers and administration for 3 long years. The list of reasons is longer than I care to share, but suffice it to say I was young and had a lot of questions and opinions. Many of these questions and opinions came because the school (and the local church it was in partnership with) and my parents had different standards. The school did not accept Contemporary Christian Music as acceptable, yet my parents paid for me to take drum lessons. The school was KJV only, yet my parents and I used an NIV at our “Community” church (non-denominational).
As I think through my past, I’m thankful for the many men and women who came alongside me and thankfully confronted me, encouraged me, and brought me along and helped me grow in so many areas. It was a huge temptation for the teachers and administration to NOT mark me with an “x” when my clean-cut comb over turned into a shaggy haircut that barely met dress code. At the same time, it was a huge temptation for my parents to NOT yank me out of the school just because they didn’t agree with everything and I persistently reminded them how I didn’t want to be there.
Whether it is with our own children or people in our churches, a lot of time we are tempted to be impatient. When we see someone, who isn’t measuring up to what we want from them, we can be tempted to think that there is no hope for them and that they are a lost cause. But nothing could be further from the truth.
My parents knew that I needed additional influences in my life when I was a teenager. Sure there are risks involved (like your son turning out to vote on the other side of the aisle politically—true story). Parents must take the necessary precautions as they encourage and support our young people to seek wisdom and help from others. Every situation is different. There is no “fixed way” to bring the right influences of our young people lives. However, I believe the biblical examples of Joshua, the Apostle John, and Timothy show the benefit of influences beyond their own family. We should not be afraid to emulate their examples as we seek godly mentors for our teenagers.
It was because teachers, coaches, and administration came along side me that I choose a Christian college, heard the call to ministry, and disciple others today. Since more is caught than is taught, I want to introduce people who discipled me in my teenage years.
- Hayman—Mr. Hayman was my Bible teacher. He worked 2 part-time jobs to be able to make ends meet while working full-time as a Christian School teacher. He got all my critiques. I asked every question that you were not supposed to ask in an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church. Though we disagreed, he was never disagreeable. He welcomed my questions, answered them in an intellectually honest way, and wasn’t intimidated by theological breadth he had in one class (Charismatic, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Non-Denominational kids). He loved us, and we loved him. He would even allow us to eat lunch with him to talk things out some more.
- My parents—They kept me in his class and in the school, even though they influenced me to question our “community church’s doctrinal position on eternal security as a 12th My parents help me politely ask and meet with the pastor over our churches doctrinal stance. As a 12th grader, I encouraged my parents to leave that church for doctrinal reasons.
- Kirkham—I spent more time in the physics lab because of Mr. Kirkham. He had a quick wit and loved to tease me. He saw that I was getting all the theology from Mr. Hayman, but he saw a lot of rough edges in my character. He won me through time and bible study to give up many harmful sin habits. He gave me a taste of experiencing God that ultimately led me my senior year to consider a Christian University.
- My parents—After meeting with Mr. Kirkham, they listened to all my crazy ideas of following Christ even though they were not as radical. I now know how much I insulted my parents in my zeal. I was clueless to see the way in which I was talking would have cut them to their heart on their commitment to Christ. Yet they listened. They even entertained the idea of me going further away to a more “Christian” Christian college that was going to cost them more financially all because of Mr. Kirkham’s influence.
These men gave me a lot of time, energy and constant encouragement. They led by example and instruction. Though my parents did not agree with every doctrinal point or implication, the only reasons why these relationships happened was because of my parents. My parents took the initiative, they sacrificed driving time, gas money, and a whole lot more in order to give me these influences. It was not cheap. But I’m so grateful they did.
It’s too easy to look at people around us and instantly make decisions about them based on outer appearance, their attitude in that moment, or any other immature behavior. If you met me in the hallway of FCBC when I was in 8th-10th grade, would you have counted me out or given me a chance to grow?
Today, young people need a multitude of counselors in their lives. So let me ask you, “Are you doing what you can to be sure that you are an example for our young people to follow?”