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Most youth group leaders seem just inherently cool. For me, my quintessentially hip youth leader was a college-age guy named Craig, whose trademark was to call us guys, “doctor.” ‘Seriously, doctor? Hey, doctor, how are you doing this week? Throw the ball here, doctor.”
Evangelist Cliffe Knechtle says that there are many influences that contribute to a person’s decision to follow Christ – and that a person’s faith journey is “like a chain with many links.” Beyond being a cool guy, Craig was a significant link in my faith chain. He was my counselor at the junior high camp which served as the setting for me to internalize that Christ died for me, and by accepting that gift and following Him, I would spend eternity with Him.
We, as parents, are most responsible for helping our kids know, love and serve God. But also integral to them owning their faith are other respected adults who model an active, meaningful faith. For me, one key person on my journey was Craig, the doctor of all youth leaders. But, it could just as easily be a Godly coach … a friend of the family … or a teacher.
Each year, when we head into our church’s annual weekend camp for grade schoolers, counselors ask parents how we can be praying for their child. In the three years I served as a counselor, there were prayers for medical issues, bullying challenges, and family hardships such as shuttling between two homes.
But the most frequent prayer request I received was "that my child would begin to own their faith for themselves." And sometimes, adults at the camp would help serve as a catalyst to do just that.
Mom may be a wee nervous about sending her kiddo to camp … the Sunday night youth group … or their first missions trip. But not allowing them to engage with wise, safe adults living out their Christian faith robs them of experiences with Christ-following models that matter.
Dads, be on the lookout for other adults who can speak Godly wisdom into your son or daughter’s lives. Your influence is vital, but research on what makes for a lasting faith says that the positive example of other adults is also a key contributor to a faith that matures as your children move from tween, to teen, to adulthood. Furthermore, don’t miss opportunities to be a link in another child’s faith chain.
Rich Bennett (@coloradorich) is a contributing writer for Dad Matters and the Vice President of Ministry & Marketing Strategy for Focus on the Family.
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