This is a concept that Jonathan wrote about a few months ago, and it's something we're trying to be deliberate about making happen in our kids' lives. He wrote about it here: Widen the Circle.
I remember being about 10 or 11, and beginning to think adults were interesting. My own mom was great (one of the parents that most other kids envied in fact), and we had a good relationship, but there was just something about other people's parents I found intriguing.
I'm sure in my immaturity there was some aspect of wishing my mom would be more like other people's parents: Sara's mom let her shave her legs....Jacob's mom let him stay up late playing video games and had friends sleepover every night of the week...Jill's dad bought her jewelry every single holiday. Names changed to protect the innocent. But I bet my mom knows who I'm talking about! (Of course now that I'm a parent I understand why mom would want me to wait longer than age 9 to shave, and would want me in bed at a decent hour. Thanks Mom. But you could still buy me jewelry every holiday if you want.)
Knowing that this time will come, when our kids will start to look for advice and influence outside of what me and their Dad think, we'd like to be strategic about who we have in our life. And more than just having these people around on the periphery, we'd like to be deliberate about giving our kids the message "Hey, these people love you. And they aren't drifting through life. They live their life on purpose. They love God. There are things you can learn from them. Listen to them."
Of course they will still find people all on their own to look up to and try to emulate. But that's no reason why we can't try to guide them toward some good choices.
Ryan was baptized last Saturday night, and afterward we had a "post-baptism" celebration at our house. We invited his current and former leaders from church, as well as others who have loved him and been an affirming influence.
There were several reasons we wanted to have a party:
1. We just plain wanted to celebrate! We prayed over Ryan and celebrated what God is doing in his heart.
2. We wanted Ryan to be aware of the people God has put in his life to help point him toward Jesus. There is a debt of gratitude that is owed. Both to God and to His willing servants.
3. We wanted the people who have been in Ryan's life to know the profound impact they've had, and that we want them to continue making an impact!
Some people have influence because of their position; small group leaders and others in children's ministry at the church.
Others don't have an official "role", we've just noticed that for whatever reason they have Ryan's ear. Ryan wants to share his accomplishments with them, and he gives weight to the things they tell him. (Hi Greg and Cheri!) We want these friends to know the influence they carry, and to know we trust them with that.
Also importantly, some of these people are inherently way more cool than I could ever hope to be. Matthew and Emily are in their early 20's, energetic and exciting, and Ryan thinks every. single. thing. they do and say is awesome. Mr. Matt can tell Ryan the exact same thing I've told him, and sometimes it just sticks better if it comes from Mr. Matt. I think it helps that mixed in with the Godly wisdom and love, they can talk about video games.
My prayer is that as my kids grow, these people will be around to give them the same messages I'm giving, but in a different voice and from a different perspective.
Thank you Lord that in the short time we've lived in Lubbock, you've made us a part of a spiritual family. Thank you for these people who love and influence our kids toward loving You. Bless them Lord, and keep providing opportunities for authentic relationship.
I wholeheartedly agree with the 'widening the circle" idea - good job! Wish more parents would embrace this as well.
We have had this same thought. We are SS teachers for 6th grade and realize the impact we can have as youth workers and pray other Godly people will be "there" for our kids in ways we just can't. Well said!
Excellent post. I've starred it on my google reader and keeping it as a reminder and great reference. Also shared it with our home group after some good discussion we had this week about this very subject. Thanks for sharing this!