rebelling against low expectations

Words of Hope for Discouraged Christian Parents

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I am well aware that some parents feel they have “done everything right” and still their children are not turning out as they had hoped. After years of Christian schooling, or even home schooling, their kids are still struggling like the rest. A few kids have even renounced their faith and gone off into the world.

Does this mean that it doesn’t matter what parents do? That nothing works? Not at all. Doing the right thing is still right, even when it does not seem to be working. We walk by faith and not by sight. We must not lose heart in the face of any circumstance. Just as in evangelism, we labor in hope of a harvest, but the results are always in God’s hands, not ours.

A lot of the trouble we see today among our young may be attributed to the radical changes that have taken place during their life-time. The rise in new technology, and especially the advent of the Internet and mobile Internet devices, has brought a global awareness of different cultures and religious world views crashing in on young minds unprepared for all the conflicting ideas.

Who is right? How can we know? By what standard can we evaluate the opinions of others? Are our Scriptures any more authoritative than those of others? Is science to be the only credible arbiter of truth. And if so, science paid for by whom? These are more than mere questions for an apologetics speech. They are the questions on the minds of our children.

Add to that the “war on terror,” the constant parade of international carnage and crises, the political revolutions and social movements that defy all attempts to be guided or halted, and we have immense pressure on our young people to retreat from what they have been taught to believe. A part of them wants to accommodate themselves to what seems to be the inevitable new status quo. Tentativeness on what they believe can seem like a virtue when the whole world has become one big social networking conversation.

In this new situation, young people learn to keep their head down for fear of being struck by global distain for anyone who claims to be certain about anything. The courage of one’s convictions can easily fade under the pressure to conform to a new global ethic of tolerance for everything but intolerance.

But the solution is not to provide better arguments for our traditional views. There is a point at which we have to allow our children ask the frightening questions. Only by doing so can they ever have a strong personal knowledge and understanding of what makes right right and wrong wrong in the first place. It is their ability to see through the confusion and stand for what has always been true that will rescue them from being casualties to skepticism.

In some cases, frustrated parents are seeing real success with their kids, but in ways they had not intended. You raised your kids to become “a force to be reckoned with,” and now you have to reckon with them as their parents. You trained them to be effective in debate, and now you get to argue with them at every meal. Good job, Mom and Dad, you have raised up a warrior who is now picking fights with you. Be patient as your rowdy pup grows into his paws. Someday he or she will use those skills on the real enemies of light and truth.

In all of this, one thing remains certain. God is faithful to finish what He has started in our lives and in the lives of our children. God may be breaking the idols in our own hearts, shifting our hope back to Him and away from our own abilities as parents. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborer works in vain.”

I am confident that many of these so called “wandering kids” who struggle so with the way things are, are actually being provoked and prepared by God to go out and do something about it — to speak out against all that really is wrong and to put their hand to the task of being a modern day reformer.

As frustrating as it will be for us as parents to watch our kids go through this process of sharpening their vision and finding their voice, it will be worth it if they step up to their purpose in life and begin to show everyone, including us, their parents, what biblical Christianity has always supposed to have been.

Salvation is a life founded on the gospel of God’s grace in Christ, working through a faith that works through love for others. So, again, when we feel discouraged, we must not lose heart. God is good. Never give up. Every great biography has its dark chapters. Perhaps your difficult child is writing his right now. Be patient as you apply the faithful pressures of a loving father or mother. Pray hard. We can all rest in the knowledge that our God is faithful.

In closing, I pray that you will not lose your confidence in God, or in God’s ability to work through you as a parent for the good of your children. Don’t allow false condemnation, or real guilt, or a sense of helplessness to keep you from doing what you can while you still can. Our enemy, the devil, does everything he can to get us to back off and be quiet. The Holy Spirit of God urges us to stand firm and speak out. We have all the power we need to do what is right.

Help your younger children grow up to be strong and faithful. Work with God, and in complete dependence on Him, to accomplish His purposes in the lives of your children. He will take care of the results.


About the author

Gregg Harris

is the father of Alex and Brett Harris (authors of Do Hard Things) and instructor for the online parenting course, Raising Kids to Do Hard Things. His dear wife, Sono, passed away in 2010 and he and his youngest son now run a popular terrarium shop in Portland, Oregon, called Roosevelt's Terrariums.

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →

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