When my three children were teenagers I made it a practice to take one of them out for breakfast each week. There was no agenda. We did not talk about chores done subpar, homework left undone, or whatever manner of issues and challenges arise when parenting teenagers.
However, those breakfasts played an important role in how we later approached those topics at home. Because I took the time to build into my kids’ lives, we were able to have these crucial conversations in ways that left our relationships intact and thriving. As our relationships thrived, I was able to have influence in the lives of my children.
The strength of the relationships you build with the children in your life—whether you are a mentor, leader, parent, grandparent—determines your amount of influence.
Just imagine the eternal outcomes that will unfold as you leverage that influence to guide the kids you care about into a deep, growing relationship with Jesus, and as you model what it looks like to follow Him!
Here are three ideas for growing great relationships with kids God brings into our lives.
1. Take your role personally.
In John 10:11-14 Jesus talks about a shepherd and a hired hand. The shepherd takes his role personally. He is committed to the safety and well being of the sheep under his care. This is not the case for the hired hand, who exits “stage left” the minute circumstances get too challenging.
When we take our role personally, it means we will reorder our priorities and schedules to bring our best to the relationships with the kids in our lives. It means turning to our Shepherd for the wisdom and insight we need, to truly understand who He has created our kids to be. Time with Jesus needs to be on the front burner of our lives if our desire is to raise kids who love Jesus and commit their lives to following Him.
2. Dribble with your head up.
Anyone who plays basketball knows you need to keep your head up at all times. You can’t make a play when your eyes are glued to the ball. When you dribble with your head up, you take your eyes off your agenda, and choose to be fully present with the kid that you care about. You come alongside them as they bump into life.
It’s taking a few minutes to sit in the driveway after a long day at work to catch your breath, so you can enter into your kids’ world without carrying the demands of the day with you. It means preparing that Sunday school lesson ahead of time so you can make eye contact and be fully present with your kids. It means slowing down so you can read between the lines as your child shares his or her thoughts.
3. Separate the miracle from the mess.
All of us are a combination of a miracle and a mess. When it comes to kids, sometimes it’s easier to see the messy parts of who they are! Maybe you find yourself continually challenging them to “pull up their socks.” When we do this, however, we can lose sight of the miracle of who they are.
Is your child fearful but willing to try new things anyways? Does he show compassion when someone is hurt? Is she really good at building Lego? Does he ask great questions?
Ask the questions. Look for clues pointing to how God has hardwired each child. These discoveries will help you come alongside to help them develop their God-given gifts, talents, and abilities. Celebrate each child as God’s masterpiece! (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Here’s your challenge:
- How will you engage with your kids so they know you are fully committed to their wellbeing?
- What does it look like for you to put Philippians 2:4 into practice? How will you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of the kids God has placed in your care?
- What are you doing to come alongside the kids in your life? How are you helping them discover and celebrate the miracle of who God created them to be?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cathy Dyck is the Canadian facilitator for KidUnique, a resource for parents, ministry leaders and other adults, equipping them to come alongside and help the kids that they care about discover the miracle of who God has created them to be. She also leads the Awesome KidMin Conference team, providing quality training and encouragement for kidmin leaders and volunteers in Manitoba and across Canada.