Monday, April 18, 2011

Bringing Adult Children (back) to Faith 4b

We are still moving your adult child from an Accommodation type of faith to their Assimilation into Christ's story - giving up their life and agenda and taking up a life for Christ.
The predominant activity on your part, setting the stage, turning on lights and music, remains your relationship with Christ.  Give up your own life for Christ.  Be engaged as fully as possible.  This doesn't necessarily mean going to multiple Bible Studies and being in the church building whenever the doors are open.  What it means is that your life is actually centered in Christ and it is part of your conversation - not bragging but matter-of-fact testimonies.  You are proud of how careful the vestry is with your tithe.  It is great that God invented golf.  Your testimony on the golf course with _____ went so well.  You hold hands with your spouse so your child can see a model of righteous intimacy.  You retell the story from the guy you served at Crisis Ministry.
The second thing to do to bring them into Christ's story is very hard.  You need to confess your failings to your child.  For you to assist your adult child in making this transition you have to be in the right position with your adult child.  If your interactions with your child remain parent:child interactions, you will make little progress.  
Confess that you are sorry for being a crummy parent (we all are).  Next, confess that you are sorry for talking to your child through all the baggage of the last 25 years instead of having clean conversations.  Confess that you are sorry for not listening well.  Confess that you are sorry for not changing your role from teacher/parent to adult friend yet. 
Now - position changed - you proceed as an equal friend.  You are starting over with Saint-Exupery's thought,
“If you want to build a ship, ...don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
Live a life that is full and undoubtedly a part of Jesus' story and invite your child into the story.  Bring them into your adventure with Jesus.  Bring them into your mission trip, into your Habitat work, into your SS teaching, into your hunting excursion fellowship times.
As you do that, continue your praise of your child's efforts at accommodating the teachings of Christ. “I have been paying better attention to your life lately and you have been doing a good job of turning over areas in your life to God.  I am proud of you for the job you are doing following God."  Even adult children need praise and encouragement.  We're not there yet so...more to come.

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