Adding Sticky Faith To Birthdays

Kara Powell | Aug 28, 2014

Photo by tednmiki.

In celebration of the release of The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, stickyfaith.org is hosting a “Blog Tour” to share some of the book’s research highlights and practical ideas. This story about the amazing men who surround our son comes from chapter six: “Community: The Power of Five Faith-Building Adults”.

When Nathan turned thirteen, he didn’t just have a birthday. He had a birth-month.

Dave and I wanted Nathan to know that as he officially became a teenager, he wasn’t stepping through the hallway from childhood to adolescence alone. He had a team who walked through that passageway with him, cheering him on.

So two months before his birthday, Dave, Nathan, and I identified five men who were already influential in his life. We emailed each man, asking him if he’d be open to spending a few hours with Nathan during his birthday month. In addition to their using those hours to make a deposit into their relational account with Nathan, we also asked each to share with Nathan one piece of life advice and one piece of spiritual advice.

These men are busy fathers and grandfathers, but to our delight, each accepted. So five different men—ages thirty-seven to seventy-two—spent a few hours with Nathan that month. From golfing to a sunrise hike, these men shared memories, life stories, advice, and prayers. As Nathan recounted to Dave and me what he had learned from each man, we were filled with gratitude to God for these godly men who were pouring themselves into Nathan and our family.

To memorialize the time with these five men, Dave and Nathan built a wooden “team box” the size of a shoebox. In the box, we placed pictures of Nathan with each man, as well as a written copy of each man’s spiritual and life advice. As God brings other amazing men across Nathan’s path, we plan on asking them to spend some time with Nathan and adding their pictures and advice to Nathan’s team box. The box now sits on Nathan’s bookshelf, a palpable reminder of the amazing men who are already on Nathan’s team, as well as those who we pray will join in future years.

Dave and I are not that creative.

We never would have come up with this ritual that we’ve already done with Nathan—and plan to do with our two daughters as they turn thirteen—without the insights and ideas that emerged during our years of Sticky Faith research.

What have you done to make the birthdays in your family more significant and meaningful?

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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