A Teen on a Mission
About the Guest
How good are you at connecting with your teen? John Majors and Michelle Hill talk to parents about how FamilyLife's new resource Passport2Indentity™ can help them answer some of their teen's questions before they face the challenges of adolescence. John and Michelle explain how with God's help, kids can do more than anyone ever expected them to.
John Majors and Michelle Hill talk to parents about how, with God’s help, kids can do more than anyone ever expected them to.
A Teen on a Mission
Bob: As parents, one of our assignments is to point our children toward God’s agenda for their lives / God’s assignment for them. John Majors says, “We need to be careful that we don’t have them thinking that agenda kicks in years from now.”
John: There is an idea out there that’s pretty popular: “Life will start later. It will start after college. You’re getting ready for real life.” But if you look in the Bible, just alone, the amazing things that young people accomplished by trusting God—those are the kinds of things we want to be calling young people up to today. And one of the verses that we highlight is: “Delight yourself in the Lord…” Psalm 37:4—that’s our starting place. It’s not just “Do something great so that YOU will look great,” but “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart,” so whatever you end up pursuing will bring glory to Him, not just to yourself.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, April 22nd.
Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Your children are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which He prepared beforehand that they would walk in them. As parents, are you ready to help them take those steps? We’ll talk about it today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. I guess, for as long as I have known you, I’ve heard you talk about the metaphor from the Psalms that children are arrows in the hands of a warrior—
Dennis: —not intended to stay in the quiver.
Bob: —and that they are to be launched in a specific direction.
Dennis: And it’s the parents who set the direction / they don’t determine the flight. Obviously, you don’t raise your kids to be robots. They’ve got to make their own choices, but God designed those arrows for a distinct, unique purpose.
It’s our assignment to help our kids find that purpose.
Bob: Point them in the right direction.
Dennis: Yes. It begins in childhood and goes all the way into adolescence and on into adulthood.
Bob: This week we’ve been talking specifically about kids who are 14, and 15, and 16 years old because those young people are asking a lot of questions about who they are, about identity, “Why am I here?” Wrapped up in that is: “What’s my purpose in life?” And that really gets to the core of understanding that God sent every one of us here with a mission. We are His workmanship, and He prepared good works beforehand that we should walk in them. We just have to find out what those good works are and do them.
Dennis: You just took the words right out of my mouth. This is one of—
Bob: Well, I took them out of Paul’s mouth.
Dennis: You did / you did. [Laughter] One of my favorite verses, Ephesians 2:10, says this: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
The concept of workmanship—I have written in my Bible—“We are God’s work of art / we are a masterpiece.” Whether it’s a teenage boy or a teenage girl, they do not believe they are a masterpiece.
Dennis: They do not believe they are a work of art. They have all kinds of self-doubt/confusion. They’ve got all kinds of voices chirping in their ears, being critical of them. So, as a parent, your assignment is to help your child discover: “What is God up to in this work of art?”
Bob: We’re trying to partner with parents in that assignment by creating resources. In fact, we’ve created a new resource we’ve been talking about this week called Passport2Identity. I know a lot of our listeners have taken their sons or daughters on a Passport2Purity® weekend. There are probably—well, there are only a handful of resources that we’ve heard more about from people other than the Passport2Purity weekend.
And we’ve gone to the next step, which is when a young person is 14, 15, 16 years old. They’re in the thick of adolescence and they are wrestling with issues related to identity: “Who am I?” “What’s my purpose in life?” “Why am here?” “What am I good at?” “How do I become popular?” or “How do I make friendships?” We’ve tackled all of that in the Passport2Identity resource.
We’ve been talking this week with the co-creators of this resource—Michelle Hill, who created the Passport2Identity for young women—Michelle, welcome back.
Michelle: Thank you!
Bob: And John Majors, who is here, who created the Passport2Identity for young men. John—welcome.
John: Thank you.
Bob: And we have been looking at how a parent can get away for a couple of days with a son or a daughter. A lot of people—when they hear us talk about either Passport2Purity—or now, Passport2Identity—the first question that a lot of them have is: “When is that weekend scheduled?” They think this is an event that we host and they come be a part of—that’s not what it is.
Dennis: It isn’t. In fact, John, how would you explain it because you just created this for fathers to get away with their sons?
John: Yes, it’s a weekend retreat—one-on-one weekend retreat—for a father and son to get away for manhood / or for a mother and daughter. That’s really the power of the whole experience.
I had a friend call me and say: “Hey, I don’t really have the time to get away for a weekend. I’d like to do this over a series of weeks.” I said: “Don’t do that! Really, one of the most amazing parts is the memory of the time away together.” So, he took his son away for the weekend. They went coyote hunting—he bought him a big hunting knife. He said, “You know, I remember—when I had to talk about these kinds of things with my dad, I always felt like I was in trouble.” He said, “But you made it to where we turned into a memorable experience—something fun.” That’s what we wanted to do / that’s what we tried to do.
Bob: In fact, you had a dad—while you were working on this project, he came by your house. You had the prototype CDs there; and he said, “I want to try this out with my son.”
And you said, “Well, it’s not ready.” And he just took it and ran off with it; right?
John: Yes; and I said: “Look, it’s not finished. We don’t have the workbook. We don’t have all the components.” He said: “That’s okay. This is still going to be valuable.” So, they went on a road trip/ they listened to it. We got him in here, and he told us about it.
[Review of Passport2Identity]
Father: My thought was: “I’m going to have to say, ‘No! We’re going to listen to this—we’re going to listen to this”; but we would listen to one session and I said, “You want to stop?” He goes, “No, I want to keep going.” It wasn’t something that had to be forced on. I truly think young guys—they’re just dying to discuss, they’re dying to talk, they’re dying to share kind of “…what I’m struggling with,” / “…what I’m going through.”
We only had three sessions on the way back. So, we finished up even before St. Louis. But the whole time coming back, it was just discussion—going back / and he would reference something that was said three sessions ago. So, I know that he’s listening—he was pointing something out. He would bring up something: “Well, you remember when he said this? That’s something that I think about.” or “Remember when this happened? That’s something I struggle with.”
I was kind of overwhelmed and taken aback that it wasn’t like pulling teeth.
He was very willing to discuss things. I think that a lot of guys—they are just desperate to relate. And I think, as dads, we’ve become lazy or passive, and we don’t take the initiative. I confess that’s me, and I just appreciate what Passport2Identity has done to kind of open that dialogue for us.
Dennis: And Michelle, that kind of experience can be had by daughters with their mothers as well; right?
Michelle: Oh, most definitely. I had a friend, who took her daughter through just one of the sessions—the Womanhood Session. She said that what it opened up was just discussion after discussion after discussion. They had a pretty good relationship before; but even after that one hour and then the discussion time, she said it was incredible—their relationship. They were just able to talk through more and more issues that they faced.
Bob: And after you’ve taken a son or a daughter through a discussion about: “What does identity look like? What’s it all about? How do you move toward independence?”—
—which is where every young person is dying to get to—after you’ve talked about their gender and the fact that God has made them, as young men or as young women, and that there are specific gender characteristics that go with that—
Dennis: And you’ve exposed some of the teaching of the culture and their peers—that this is not some sort of multiple choice or fluid discussion about gender, like the culture is trying to make it.
Bob: Right—after you’ve talked with them about their spiritual identity and what it means to make their faith their own, you’ve talked with them about their need for healthy relationships—mentors, and peer relationships and what healthy relationships with the opposite sex looks like, and how all of that fits into their identity—the last thing you tackle is the issue of mission: “Do they know where they are headed? Do they know that God has an assignment for them? Are they starting now to think about, not ‘How am I going to live out God’s assignment for me when I’m 25?’ but ‘How can I start living out God’s assignment for me now when I’m 14 or 15 years old?’”
John: Yes, there is an idea out there that’s pretty popular: “Life will start later. It will start after college. You’re getting ready for real life.” But if you look in the Bible, just alone, the amazing things that young people accomplished by trusting God—those are the kinds of things we want to be calling young people up to today.
And one of the verses that we highlight is: “Delight yourself in the Lord…” Psalm 37:4—that’s our starting place. It’s not just “Do something great so that YOU will look great,” but “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart,” so whatever you end up pursuing will bring glory to Him, not just to yourself.
Bob: Michelle, you had a chance to talk to some young women in their middle teens who said: “I’m not waiting until I’ve graduated from college to serve the Lord. We can do some things now,” and they set a pretty big goal.
Michelle: They set a big goal; and not only that, they set an amazing example.
Bob: Yes. Let’s listen to that dialogue and what they shared.
[Excerpt from Passport2Identity]
Young woman: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you’re young, but set an example.” That was something that’s always inspired me.
Michelle: This is a story of a group of girls I know who aren’t waiting until they are older to be used by God.
Young woman: A couple of us decided we wanted to do something big for God.
Young woman-1: We just didn’t really know what we wanted to do. Then, when we heard about the water crisis and learned more about it, we knew that’s what God was calling us to do.
Young woman-2: We knew we wanted to do wells, and we thought that would be easier to figure out how to do as younger girls.
Young woman-3: Well, when we first started, we realized that instead of like $700, one well actually costs $5,000.
Young woman-4: So, we got pretty overwhelmed. We thought it would take our whole high school years to be able to raise one well.
Young woman-5: One of the moms—when we told her, she honestly thought to herself that: “They are never going to be able to do this,” and “I want to be supportive of them, but I honestly don’t think they are going to be able to do that.”
Michelle: So, things were looking kind of impossible; but then, God opened a door for the girls to share their vision at a conference. That’s when things changed.
Young woman-6: And we were like, “Oh, we’re probably going to raise like $100.” It was just like amazing to see—when we counted up all the money—that God had raised $6,000! We were like, “Oh, we raised a whole well in one day!” That was the coolest thing. It just encouraged us that we don’t need to stop there. So far, we’ve dug three wells in India, Honduras, and Ghana, Africa. And this time, we actually get to go on the trip and dig the well ourselves.
Young woman-7: Seeing how God’s light through us will affect them in their everyday lives is just the most amazing feeling.
You don’t have to wait until you grow older to do something for God, and you can do something now.
Dennis: Those young ladies formed a group called the Single Drop. It banded them together as sisters. And who knows where that will take them? We had them speak and share at the staff meeting. I think most of us and the staff go, “You’ll never do it!” We’re just like the mom who didn’t believe you’d be able to do it either. [Laughter] But God delights in taking the faith of children—
Dennis: —who just think about God in simple terms and say: “You know what? I’m going to trust Him for this.”
Think about your son or your daughter. One of the problems today is we’re not challenging them to a big enough dream. We need to be challenging them to dream big dreams. I think it was D.L. Moody, on his deathbed, who said to his sons, “If God be God, then, make your plans large.” I think young people need to hear that story.
Young ladies need to get away with their moms, just to hear that story alone, and be asked: “What are you thinking about? What are you dreaming about?”
Bob: And they need to know that they can be on mission now, as young ladies.
Bob: This is not something that they have to plan for in the future.
Bob: Young men—they can do it today.
Michelle: Well, if He’s going to answer a small prayer—and we know He answers tons of small prayers—think about, if you go to Him and you say, “God, I want to change someone’s life,” He’s going to answer that. We need to be putting that in these young people’s hearts / in their minds; and they need to know that God is bigger. I think, in Christianity today / in some parts of Christianity, we squelch the idea of who God is. We put Him in a box. So, our youth are growing up with God in that box. We need to let that box—we need to take the boundaries off that box and let our kids know, “God is so big.” And when we do that, I think we’re going to have a lot more kids doing what Single Drop is doing.
Bob: John, you had a chance to sit down with a colleague of ours, here at FamilyLife—Jeff Kemp, who some of our listeners will recognize the name. His dad, Jack Kemp, was a congressman, he was a pro football player, he was the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and ran for President. Jeff played in the NFL for 11 seasons and began to see that playing in the NFL was not the mission God had for him—it was just the place God had for him to accomplish his mission.
John: And we wanted to interview him because we want to help a young person get that idea in their mind. Your vocation / what you do is important. God will use the skills you develop, though, to set up the platform for you to lead others to Him. That’s what Jeff started to see. In fact, it was a great interview.
[Excerpt from Passport2Identity]
Jeff: I went to Dartmouth College. I was a free agent into the NFL. I went to the Rams in 1981.
John: This is Jeff Kemp.
He played quarterback in the NFL for 11 years.
Jeff: I was a guy who was walking with Christ when I played pro football, and I was friendly to everyone. I kidded around with guys, but I didn’t tell dirty jokes / didn’t laugh at those jokes, went out to eat dinner if they’d go with me; but I wasn’t a beer drinker or partier.
So, there were guys who really wouldn’t hang out that much with me and might make fun of me occasionally. But then, when their life was having trouble—their marriage was in trouble, they were about to get cut, or something was wrong—they’d sit down next to me on the plane and kind of confide in me and look for a friend because they knew that there was something I was anchored in—and that was God.
John: And that anchor in God that Jeff had—he really attributes that to his dad.
Jeff: One of the things my dad did really well was encourage me that I had this identity as a difference-maker as a leader. The challenge was—because he was so successful—I assumed it was because I had to be successful, too, as opposed to my character is as a leader / my character is as an influence of others.
John: His dad, by the way, also, played quarterback in the NFL. He was a congressman, he ran for Vice President and President of the United States. So, you can see the bar was raised pretty high in their family.
Jeff: Now, my dad also said things to me like: “You’re in your right place. God has a plan.” He always reminded me that God is sovereign—He’s the one that shapes things. Really, my identity is not in being a quarterback, or a success, or someone people view as a leader—it’s who God defines me as. Then, I’m able to make a difference in people’s lives.
You’re different if you’re a Christian, but that doesn’t mean you need to act weird or be isolated from everyone. Sometimes, they will isolate you. You’re building up credibility, though; and you never know the day when they may come alongside and trust in you, as a friend, who is not going o say something behind their back, isn’t going to make fun of them, and actually has some answers because it’s clear you’ve got God in your life.
Dennis: And Bob, as you mentioned earlier, Jeff Kemp is a colleague of ours, here at FamilyLife. It’s fascinating to be in meetings with him—and not just merely to hear the voice of Jack Kemp come out of Jeff’s mouth sometimes—but to hear the passion of his father that had been planted in Jeff’s heart. Jeff has a tremendous heart for the inner city, wanting to help the poor. That was birthed in Jeff’s heart from Jack’s.
Bob: So, you’re saying that we do have an impact on the trajectory—
Dennis: Oh, no doubt!
Bob: —that our kids will go off—and they are going to be their own kids / they’re going to do their own things—
—but we can implant in them seeds of spiritual truths so that, wherever they wind up, they are still anchored in the right mission.
Dennis: Yes; and Bob, what we’ve been talking about here has been really helping your child find his identity in Jesus Christ, get his marching orders from the Scripture, and then, be about the King’s business. We’ve got far too many Christians that have got one foot in the world and one foot on the Bible. They’re slipping and sliding and they need to get firmly planted on the Scriptures. They need to be doing what God designed them uniquely to do.
I’m just excited about what Michelle and John have done here. I’m looking back over the topics that we’ve hit here. We’ve talked about just the whole idea of spiritual identity, about becoming responsible and independent from parents and how that process occurs. We’ve talked about gender identity. We’ve talked about relational identity—how we relate to peers.
Finally, this one—missional identity and doing what God wants us to do. These are relevant topics for young people today, as never before.
I just want to thank you guys for all the work you put in on this. I know that there are going to be literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of young people impacted by this in the coming decades because I think this is going to get used by generations. I’m watching it happen. I’m sending it out right now to my friends and to my own family members and saying, “Here’s your next assignment for your 15-year-old,”—my grandson, who is 15 years old: “Let’s go! Schedule the time. Get away.”
And I know what’s going to happen—you guys are going to set up my son-in-law to have a great weekend with his son that would not have been possible otherwise—not that he couldn’t have done something similar—but let me tell you folks: “Michelle and John worked on this for three years. If you’ve been working on something and giving it your thought to it, your prayer, asking wisdom from a number of great Christian leaders that we’ve had here on FamilyLife Today and picking their minds and hearts and turning them loose to speak into the lives of young people—
—this is going to be a powerful resource in the lives of a lot of parents as well as their kids.”
Thanks for creating this, and thanks for your hard work.
John: You bet! It’s a great privilege. There is a ton of wisdom chocked in this because, as you said, we pulled from a lot of different people / a lot of voices. So, they’re going to get to hear a bunch of great stuff.
Bob: Yes. And these are the kinds of conversations that we’re hoping moms and dads will be having with their sons and daughters as they get together for a getaway later this spring or this summer. Take a couple of days—go somewhere fun—some kind of adventure / something your son or daughter would love to do with you. Listen along the way there and along the way back to the Passport2Identity content and interact over these things. Open the door to these conversations through this resource.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to find out more about Passport2Identity for young men or for young women. You can order online, or you can order by phone—1-800-FL-TODAY is the phone number. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com. And be sure to get back to us after you’ve had your getaway because we’d love to hear how this experience was with your teenager. We’d love to know about the kinds of conversations that you had.
And if you have a preteen / somebody who is 9, 10, or 11, plan to take them this summer on a Passport2Purity getaway. Same kind of idea—only this time, you’re talking about the issues they’re going to be facing as they launch into adolescence.
So, again, find out more about Passport2Purity and Passport2Identity, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
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Now, we’ve got some friends who live in Gaithersburg, Maryland, who are celebrating their 21st wedding anniversary today—Steve and Pam Plaisted. They are regular FamilyLife Today listeners. They’ve been to three Weekend to Remember® events. In fact, Steve is a certified Christian conciliator, and they are Legacy Partners—supporters of this ministry. “Congratulations, you guys, on your 21st wedding anniversary!
“Thanks for supporting the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We couldn’t do what we do if it weren’t for folks, like you, and we appreciate you very much.”
We are the Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries™. This is our 40th year, but we’re spending it by congratulating other people for all of the years of marriage that have happened in part because of how God’s used FamilyLife in the lives of couples all around the country and all around the world.
And we want to say, “Thank you for your support of this ministry.” When you make a donation today, we’d like to send you, as a thank-you gift, Barbara Rainey’s brand-new book, Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife. It’s our thank-you gift when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and make an online donation; or when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY—make a donation over the phone and request Barbara’s book; or you can ask for the book when you mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; the zip code is 72223.
With that, we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend. And I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to talk about the joys of motherhood that you have to hunt out sometimes because it can be challenging to be a mom of young kids. Sarah Parshall Perry is going to be joining us on Monday to talk about how family life can get messy, but God is still right there in the mess. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next week for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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