The Middletown Christian High School Retreat is over! This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It is good because we [faculty, students, administration] were able to witness the work of the Lord in the lives of those attending and involved. The fact that it is over is also a bad thing in the sense that the “spiritual high” will no longer be sustained by an interrupted school schedule, many Scriptural messages, great team-building activies…etc
Let me speak both practically and briefly to all of the families receiving students back in their homes today [Friday, August 19]. There are ways to maximize the impact of this retreat both at home and at school. Please understand that I am no expert, and I am not presuming to think that these things are NOT happening. Consider this as a reminder or refresher course to answer the question, “What can I do to help strengthen the work of the Lord in the life of my high school child?”
- Be interceding. Begin by praying specifically about what the Lord did in the heart of your child during this retreat. Do not simply pray for your child, but please be specific, relative to this reatreat. Bro. Kirk Kirland, pastor of Revive Baptist Church in Cincy, was their speaker for all four sessions.
- Become informed. This seems like something difficult for parents to do because many parents don’t feel that their child will open up to them. This assumption is not always the case; and I have found that many times this is a wrong culturally-emphasized assumption. Here’s an idea, take them out to do something they enjoy doing, preferably a venue that is conducive to conversation, and use the time to speak specifically about God’s work in their lives. This allows them to know that you are concentrating on them and the Lord’s work in their lives. BTW, put away your mobile device while you are spending the time with them.
- Be inquisitive. Once you have learned a little of what the Lord has done, shock them by asking this question, “What can I do to help strengthen what the Lord has done in your heart at this retreat?” Now, after they have picked themselves off of the floor, listen carefully to their responses. Do NOT make excuses for yourself or justify why you have not done what they may say. Simply listen with your mouth closed and with eye-contact.
- Be intelligent. Hah! Now you know I am crazy, right? Well, here is what I mean. There are insecurities that teens deal with regularly. It takes wisdom to know how to navigate these wide range of emotions, thoughts, and beliefs that the teen has. Some teens already feel self-conscious or closed off around their homes because they know that those [family members] in their home know them better than most people outside of their home. In other words, they know that the moment they lose their temper or do something wrong, one of their parents is going to use Scripture or use the retreat as a weapon against them to point out their hypocrisy. DON’T DO THIS! Don’t use legalistic scare tactics to force them into a compliance. Avoid using the good that they experienced as a weapon to bring about guilt; otherwise they will develop contempt and bitterness, not only for you, but for a life they have deemed impossible to live. Not all discipline is wrong; but for this update, I want to really focus in on life after the retreat.
- Be impassioned. Lastly and certainly not the least in importance. Love them in a Christlike way. You can love them with your words; but the kind of love that I would encourage is a love that refuses to live hypocritically. In other words, if you will hold them to a holy standard be sure do so wits integrity [not as a hypocrite].
Again, just some practical thoughts. Thank you for allowing your child to attend with us. Thank you to all of the faculty, administration, and students who were able to attend. We are looking forward to an emphasis on #JesusOnly this year!