When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. (1 Samuel 8:1-13)
Like Eli before him, Samuel too raises boys that do not walk in his ways. Samuel was a godly man and turned Israel back to the Lord during his time as judge. And yet, even he has sons that stray! O Lord, help me to see the importance of seeing my children as disciples that I might make them a priority and invest my life in them!
Below is an article I wrote for the April Frontlines. I thought it would be helpful to include it here, too.
Taking Advantage of “Milestone” Years of Your Children
Earlier this month my about-to-turn-12-years-old son and I went on a trip together. We stayed in a hotel (one of his favorite things to do) and “surfed” the waves in South Padre Island. The water is cold (average temp 64°) in March! We didn’t let that stop us. It helps when the hotel pool water is in the upper 80s (or higher). We ate calamari and saw Oz, the Great and Powerful in 3D at the little cinema on the island. It was a great time together!
As much fun as we had together, the driving reason was to have those 6 hours in the car. That time gave us a chance to listen to a set of CDs entitled “Preparing for Adolescence: How to Survive the Coming Years of Change.” These CDs were recorded by Dr. James Dobson, founder and president of Focus on the Family, and introduce many important topics. We listened, stopped the CD and talked about things, listened some more and talked some more. I have made similar trips with my oldest two boys (to unique destinations of course). Nathan, my Associate Pastor, has done the same with his oldest and his wife Brooke has taken their oldest daughter.
Why did we do it? Our kids hit some natural “milestones” as they grow and such a trip helps to take advantage of their development. My oldest son is now 16 and I’m planning another trip with him, though with different discussion topics. This trip will focus on preparing for college and considering what a Biblical “roadmap” to life looks like.
These ideas aren’t mine originally. I borrowed them from others. I’m sharing this because I’d like to encourage all of you parents out there to consider it. We’ve got the resources here in the church office. If you’d like to borrow the CDs we’ve used, please come and “check them out” from Carol in her office. Here are some milestones to consider:
11-13 years old: Preparing for Adolescence. Take a trip together that allows at least 4 hours in the car. Listen to the CDs by Dobson for discussion starters. He talks about physical changes in the body and the emotional rollercoaster they bring, self-esteem issues, falling in love, etc. (You should preview the topics beforehand, or ask someone whose listened to them what to be wary of.) I made the destination a surprise to add some excitement to the trip. Make it fun and memorable. We took lots of pictures and videos and after each was over, we put together a 3-5 minute slideshow/video to remember the trip.
16 years old: Preparing for college. Now driving and entering a whole new level of independence is a natural place to have this trip. Ask me in a few months what we did. I don’t want to write about it here because the details are a surprise!
Graduation: Preparing to life on his own. The details of this trip are still a mystery to me, though I’m planning to make sure it happens.
Let me know what you do!