We had Parker Dane in this weekend (twitter – @ParkerDane) to show off and introduce to our church family as our new student pastor. It was a great weekend and watching the students connect with Parker was just incredible. He even got in on some 6-square.
6-square is the most awesomest game ever. It’s four-square plus two and it requires absolutely zero athletic skill to play. And it reveals who is really the competitive people are in your group. But it also gives every kid a chance to get out the adults. And that is always funny.
But that isn’t even really the point of this post. The real point is watching these students lock in to Parker. It’s nothing specific or unique to Parker – it’s the idea that there is this person who “gets us” and “speaks our language.” And because of that – they will listen. They will tune in and hear these wonderful words of wisdom that their parents have been saying for years but it has been unable to penetrated the brain because…they came from their parent’s mouth.
Sunday afternoon, my daughter said – “Parker said this in Sunday school and it was like – YEAH! That’s it! It made total sense!”
Now the truth of the matter is that Amy and I had said that same piece of wisdom for the past 13 years. But she HEARD it from Parker. And that’s why student ministry is so important. Student pastors and volunteers provide that 3rd voice in their world.
I’m a parent before I am a pastor. (And I’m a husband before I’m a parent.) As I’m trying to teach my kids how to listen to the voice of God in their life, I sometimes can get in the way. Or they tune me out. Or I miss His voice because I’m trying to get them to hear my voice. Or sometimes it’s just because kids are kids and they honestly think their parents are idiots. We’re not. And neither are they. BUT my voice (actually, Amy & I’s voice) is that first voice they hear and after time – it can lose it’s punch and priority.
The culture and their friends is the 2nd voice and it increases in volume every year older they get. That’s where a 3rd voice in the mix is huge and that is why student ministry is so crucial. It’s a 3rd voice in the mix trying to help students learn how to hear His voice.
This is especially important for me. Why?
I’ve heard other pastors say – “I’m not just my family’s father/husband but I’m also their pastor.” When I was younger, I think I would have agreed with that statement. Mainly because it sounds super spiritual and smart. It also feeds the ego a bit.
I’m older now with wounds of my own stupidity in parenting. There are days when I am barely doing a decent job as a dad – let alone a pastor. Besides that, I don’t think my kids see me as their pastor. I’m quite sure my wife doesn’t see me that way. Furthermore, they don’t need a pastor in their life near as much as they need me being a good husband and good dad regardless of where my paycheck comes from.
In one sense – yes, I’m my family’s pastor as much as any other man is to his family. I care, I shepherd, I lead, and I serve them as Christ instructs me. But I do so not because my vocation is one of pastor but because that is what it means to be a dad or a husband that follows Jesus.
What I’m trying to say in a very long-winded way I guess is this – I’m not my kids pastor. I’m my kids parent. And I need a 3rd voice in my world for my kids. It’s why I want them around other Jesus-following adults. It’s why I want them at camp and at retreats and staying up late with student volunteers and their youth pastor.
There…glad I got that out of the way.