I recently heard a youth pastor say, vulnerably, “I’m great at talking to your kids about their faith; I stink at talking with my own kids about their faith.” Another said, "I know how to be my son's mom. I don't know how to be his spiritual guide."
Painful words. Yet how many youth workers and other ministry leaders would echo them?
We have had more than one conversation recently with great, thoughtful youth workers who admit to really struggling with caring for the spiritual journeys of their own children. It turns out that what many of us are trained and well-seasoned to do with other adolescents (listen objectively, ask thoughtful questions, leave doors open for uncertainly and journey, care more about the process than last night’s bad decision), we find awkward, painful, or nonexistent in our relationships with our kids. Of course, our kids need other adults to talk about faith with them in ways that sometimes we can't as parents. But perhaps too many of us stop there.
My own kids are still young (the oldest is nine), so I don’t pretend to understand what this is like with teenagers in my own family. But these conversations have me wrestling even more with what it means to open doors all along the various stages of my kids’ growth to talk about and listen for their (and my) faith journeys.
This is part of what makes me excited that Adam McLane offered to host a free Sticky Faith book club for parents who are in youth ministry. The Chapter 1 and 2 discussions have already been phenomenal; some of the comments are encouraging, others gut-wrenching. If this sounds like something you could use, it’s not too late to jump in!
I’m also wondering what ideas and thoughts you have for others straddling the vocations of youth ministry and parenting. How do you talk about faith in your family, outside of your “job” at church? How do you pace with your own kids' spiritual journey without either ignoring or attemping to micromanage it?