Several years ago, author and speaker Lysa Terkeurst shared two messages in back-to-back years at the annual She Speaks conference. These sank deep into my spirit. The content of her messages, titled Your Reaction Determines Your Reach and Let God Chisel, struck a few of my frazzled nerves. Her delivery of these messages modeled all the elements taught to us as wannabe speakers. I soaked in every word, tone, inflection, and mannerism.
Recently, my Facebook page came alive simultaneously with posts of joyful kids going off to college and reluctant parents allowing their little chickadees to flap their fragile wings. So, what do Lysa Terkeurst and college kids have in common? Glad you asked.
My own college experience foreshadowed what my children would go through as students living away from home for the first time. College (and for others, new job environments, marriage, or new cities) exposes young men and women to a variety of lifestyles, food choices, money decisions, and beliefs. They begin to see life not only through the eyes of classmates with different opinions, but also through eyes of older adults who may not think exactly like mom and dad. It doesn’t really matter whether the college is a state school or a private Christian university. New ideology will soon rear its head, and questions are bound to arise.
What’s a parent to do with all those questions? Go to college with them! No, don’t move into the dorm. That would be weird! But do go through the learning process with them. Listen to their questions remembering that your reaction will determine your reach. An over-reaction pushes them away from God, but an understanding one moves them closer. Scary responsibility, isn’t it?
Christian mamas and daddies know to have the drinking-sex-and-money talk. But have you prepared yourself for those deep questions about your own faith? I’ve noticed through the years that parents who participate in their child’s faith development create an atmosphere where everyone learns new things. Parents who view pages of Scripture through the fresh eyes of their children find things they may have missed before. If your child steps boldly into square one of finding their own faith, step in there with them. See what they see. Learn together! Know-it-alls rarely make good teachers. Trust God to teach new things to each of you.
If your child finds a place of worship and attends frequently, do a happy dance! No, it may not be just like the church setting you’re accustomed to, but if they foster a love for God and others in a way that stirs thankfulness and passion for Jesus, support them. If you are accustomed to a more traditional worship style, but your child chooses a contemporary worship experience, don’t panic. Instead, go with them a few times. You may find out, like I did, that we are all much more alike than we are different.
By creating this type of faith environment within your family you make it a safe place to question, express doubts, and fine-tune theology. What better way to let God chisel both of you into who He intended you to be even before one of your days came to be!
You may soon discover a bond with Job, the one who finally paid attention to a much younger Elihu who said, “Hear my words, you wise men; listen to me, you men of learning. For the ear tests words as the tongue tastes food. Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.” (Job 34:2-4)
Your reaction will determine your reach, so let God chisel!