This post is part of a series celebrating the release of the new Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family. We’re interviewing parents who serve, think, and write about faith, family, and ministry.
Our latest three-question interview is with Brooklyn Lindsey. Brooklyn writes about youth ministry, parenting, and faith, serves students, and is an advocate for justice. She parents two daughters alongside her husband Coy, who is also a pastor.
So often we hear about all the negative impacts of being a pastor’s kid. How do you hope being a pastor’s kid positively shapes your children?
Last year during our youth ministry gatherings I noticed that my oldest daughter (7) was becoming more engaged in our Wednesday night group. She would sit on the front row with the teenagers who have loved taking care of her during the first years of her life. She sits in a way that reminds me of how brand new 6th graders sit on the front row. Wide-eyed, quiet, taking everything in.
I have to remember that she’s 7 and not 11, that she’s little, not yet big. The positive of this is that she is seeing herself as big before she actually is. She is imagining faith in the future as she watches kids who are older than her worship, learn, and serve. She sees what I do and wants to help. Sometimes I let her give a point of my talk or ask her to have a conversation with me on stage. I want her to know that our relationship is real life just as much as my preaching position is. Her voice is valuable just us much as mine.
As a middle school pastor, what mistakes do you see parents of middle schoolers making?
There are two mistakes I see middle school parents making. 1) They struggle seeing their child as a becoming adult. 2) They miss the chance to lean on God in prayer more than they ever have before.
A couple of years ago I started meeting with middle school parents once a month on Sunday mornings for a parent and youth leader forum. We talked about developmental changes, the differences between guys and girls, texting and social media, spiritual formation, discipline and freedom. Every parent brings a different set of experiences because their child is the only child just like theirs.
I feel like the mistake that parents make is letting this truth—that their child is unique and different—block their vision from important steps their kids may need to take. Many believe that certain tasks and responsibilities are important to learn in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade, but their feelings that their child is still a child keep them from acting on them. I may say, “it’s time to let your young teen make some mistakes on their own.” A parent may say, “yes, that’s a good idea.” But their imagination hasn’t shifted yet to their child becoming an adult, one who is going to need to know how to communicate, act, and respond like one.
Sometimes this means bringing their 11 year-old into the adult worship service, even when they feel like “they’re too young and too distracted” for it. Sometimes this means having important conversations about uncomfortable topics. Sometimes this means loosening the structure to give their kids a place to find themselves in it. And because we love our children more than life itself, we forget that God loves us like that and wants us to give our desires for ourselves and for our children to him. Parents get so busy trying to make sure that everything in their child’s life is as perfect as it can be that they forget that the perfect love of God is able to hold all of our concerns and challenges in a place of peace.
What has your own church’s children’s ministry leadership done to empower you as a parent?
The coolest thing our children’s ministry has done to empower me as a parent was to partner with us. They recently chose to implement Orange Strategy—a strategy that combines the light of the church and the heart of the family. Every week we receive what we need to share God’s love and truth with our children. They believe that we’ll be the most influential people in our kid’s lives when it comes to their faith formation so the shift to helping us do that better has been incredibly empowering and helpful.
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