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Parents who are missing the plot

When the Tsunami hit a few years ago, somewhere around 300,000 people died in a massive tidal wave that swept whole villages out to sea. Subsequently, somewhere in Kansas, Tommy, an 18 year-old video game junky who spends ninety-nine percent of his waking moments fixated on meeting his own ne…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

When the Tsunami hit a few years ago, somewhere around
300,000 people died in a massive tidal wave that swept whole villages out to
sea. Subsequently, somewhere in Kansas, Tommy, an 18
year-old video game junky who spends ninety-nine percent of his waking moments fixated on
meeting his own needs, sees the story on TV and thinks, “I need to do something
about that.”

Through some miracle, he goes to Sri Lanka for three months and is
transformed by the experience. Along the
way, Tommy’s mom emails the mission agency Tommy has signed up with three times,
and she calls four times. “What is going
on with my son?” She demands. She is alarmed by the lack of details and has
severe misgivings about her son’s crazy trip.

I understand a mom’s protective instinct. We sent off two of our daughters like Tommy
at ages 16 and 17. Yes, my wife and I
worried. But we could see the big
picture. We knew that if they didn’t
start living a life of risky abandon and faith, they might get sucked into
society’s black hole of lifestyle consumerism.
We knew that their destiny hung in the balance.

So, I want to ask Tommy’s mom,
“What is it that was so special about what Tommy was doing at home that has you
so worked up, lady?” I mean, get a
grip. Get some perspective!

For the first
time in his life, Tommy is doing something.
He’s discovering that he has a purpose.
He saw a need, responded to it, and God met him there.

In New Zealand, it’s normal for young people to leave home
and tour the world before settling down to a real job or going off to college. The Kiwi mothers know that it’s a dangerous
world out there, but they send out their sons and daughters anyway.

Where did we Americans get this odd notion that somehow
parenting is a risk-free job? It is rife
with risk! And the biggest risk is that the child will grow up to be a couch
potato, a big cosmic dud.

I know I sound like a Cassandra, but I deal with these issues for a living and I’m watching as inch by inch, American youth are moving in that
direction. We parents keep our
expectations low and insure the heck out of everything “just in case something
happens.” In the process, we squeeze God
completely out of the equation and not only miss our destiny in raising world
changers, but we put leg irons on our kids as well.

What’s criminal about this whole crazy cycle is that we
can’t see the gangrene eating away at our children’s souls. We parents are like pushers, only the dope we
sell is a soft, emasculated lifestyle that poses no threat to an enemy that
wants to eviscerate us.

If by some miracle Tommy escapes from this land of spiritual
decay, he might just encounter a situation that is so far beyond him that only
God will do. And when God shows up, then
just maybe he’ll start believing that anything is possible.

And maybe, against her will, his example will drag Mom,
kicking and screaming, to a point of realizing her destiny in spite of herself.

OK, I’ve laid a lot on you parents with this blog – if you’re unsettled, please don’t shoot the messenger. I’m trying to help and I hope I’m more Paul Revere than Chicken Little. Karen and I have raised five kids and, like you, we are proud of our kids. But we’ve messed up so many times and have run so many
risks. It has been scary.

Even now, our oldest is going around the
world (just arrived in South Africa). It ain’t easy! If we’ve done one thing right, it’s that we’ve
trusted our kids to follow God in their own way despite the risks. If
there’s a gift I could give you it, would be that.

Comments (6)

  • Awesome… and well said. Almost 30 years ago, when I first lived in New Orleans, I had a 19-year-old friend named Susan… a beautiful red-headed girl with a heart of gold… an only child whose mother had struggled mightily to raise her daughter on a minimumw age job… and God called Susan to serve Him… she wanted to be a doctor and spend her life in Africa… God led her to a program that offered to pay for her meidcal school in return for a like number of years in service on the field in Africa, working to heal both bodies and souls… and when Susan went off to school, most everyone attacked her mother… how could you… aren’t you afraid… what if… what if… what if… and I’ll never forget what Susan’s mother said, “She belongs to God. She is His daughter, His child, and he blessed me with birthing her and raising her. She belongs to go where He leads her, and I’d rather have her risk death in Africa in the will of God, than have her safe at home and and be out of His will.” It’s a trust thing… it didn’t mean Susan’s mom wasn’t afraid… or that she didn’t wish deep in her heart that God’s will was for her daughter to stay in Lousiana… it didn’t even mean that there weren’t time she let the fear rule… but it did mean that she chose to trust God with the child He’d trusted her with… and that’s an amazing thing… God bless…

  • In his book, ‘The Dream Giver,’ Bruce Wilkinson uses the term ‘Border Bullies.’ These people try to stop others from venturing out beyond the borders of the community comfort zone. They do this because, according to Wilkinson, people who step out of the zone make them, the Border Bullies, aware of their own failings. They are most often parents, relatives, or close friends who are genuinely concerned for the welfare of the ‘radical’ person who is upsetting the apple cart…
    When I learned this and saw it my own life and others’, it helped me to not get angry at the people who were trying to stop me from what I was doing.

  • You wrote:
    >>>>>>>… the biggest risk is that the child will grow up to be a couch potato, a big cosmic dud.<<<<<<<

    I love that phrase….
    God, please don’t let my children to grow up to be “big cosmic duds” !!

  • One of my closest friends was called to be a missionary when she was in highschool. Her parents refused to allow her to go sending her to college (for something they felt would keep her out of the field)instead. She is now a stay-at-home mom of three and married to a wonderful man with a heart for ministry but she still harbors bitterness towards her mother (and I think a bit towards God) and her mother still comments that she “made a deal with God that He not take her”.

    Another friend had a similar situationand her parents were missionaries when she was born.

    I do think that each of them, if their heart had not gotten bitter, could have gone after college but by then life had gotten in the way and they got sidetracked from their goals.

    In my own family my husband and I are often conmsidered “radical” in our way of lifeeven though we are both home most of the time and can’tfor health readons, travel. We make family members uncomfortable because we have chosen to live God’s way instead of their way. I pray that our children will step outside the bouds and live wholly for the Lord.

  • I would like to turn the tables here, how do you get a child who wants to be a couch potato off the sofa???? I would jump for joy if my child wanted to become a missionary. My 20 year old son has spent the last 3 years of his life making poor decisions and is getting nowhere in life. He will tell you that he is saved if you ask him but there are no fruits of the spirit coming from his life and certainly no relationship with Jesus that I can see. He will tell you that he wants radical change in his life but my husband and I just dont know what to do , college again ???….he just flunked out this past semester….a job ???? he has no skills ….. we are just at a loss and have been praying that the Lord would provide clear answers for us . Jay has type one diabetes and as a result of his diagnosis at 12 I think we made poor decisions raising him, we just didnt push him like we pushed our other three children. My youngest son loves the Lord, attends church , is a volunteer there, tithes .. My husband and I just want to do whatever we can to bring Jay into a personal relationship with Jesus ….. to get him off the sofa. We would be eternally greatful for any insight.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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