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Marking Milestones

As I was preaching on Sunday, I said something that I wasn't planning to say and I am so glad that I did.  Here it is:  as our kids get older, we aren't just spectators.  We are leaders.  We don't just sit on the sidelines and hope it works out for them.  We lead them.  

In Luke 2:52, we see that "Jesus grew in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and man."  It's pretty amazing to think that Jesus grew in each of these areas.  He grew in His physical strength, His height, and His weight.  He grew spiritually and He grew relationally.  Mary and Joseph saw Jesus grow just as we see our kids grow.  As you consider your parenting how do you focus on encouraging your kids to grow in each of these areas?  Typically, parents have a natural bent toward one or two of these.  Typically, parents feel confident in one or two of these.   Is it academics and health?  Is it their spiritual life and a supportive, safe home?  What are you strong in when it comes to leading your kids?  I ask for you to identify your strength so that you can also acknowledge your weakness and make a plan overcome it.

One of the ways that we can lead our kids to grow in healthy, balanced, Godly ways it to identify and celebrate key milestones in life.  In the Bible, stones were used to mark God’s faithfulness and leadership and to remind God’s people how far they have come.  Samuel used stones as a memorial when God’s people wanted to remember His goodness and faithfulness. First Samuel 7:12 says that when God enabled the Israelites to defeat the Philistines, the Prophet Samuel “took a stone and … named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far has the Lord helped us.'”  Joshua also used stones to help God’s people remember His goodness. After wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, the Israelites experienced the power of God to roll back the waters of the Jordan River, enabling them to cross over and take possession of the Promised Land. Joshua then commanded them to build a memorial of stones as a public testimony of what God had done for them … stones that would remind them to keep on praising Him.

Never forget:  Remembering the past, and recalling what God has done, can provide a great framework for moving into our future.

As we pass the faith down the next generation let’s plan for and enjoy making milestones.
Some MILESTONES are spiritual next steps to build habits that build faith.  The first and most important milestone is believing in Jesus as your Savior.  If your kids have made this decision, celebrate it.  If they haven't, pray for it.  Ask for God to call them by name.  The second faith milestone is Baptism where believers go public with their faith.  There is nothing magical or special about the water, but there is power in encouraging your kid to follow Jesus.  The third faith milestone is opening the Bible by yourself.  Preteens and teenagers should be prepared and encouraged to read the Bible personally.  We love the NIV Study Bible.  The fourth faith milestone is serving others in the name of Jesus.   When one serves for the first time, it's a key moment for them as a disciple and it should be a goal to strive for!

Some MILESTONES are character-based.  As our kids age, talk to them about responsibility and give them more responsibility.  As their relationships change, you need to talk to them about healthy boundaries and how they can stand out from the crowd.  Since they live in an online world, they need to be reminded that purity of heart, mind, and action, is possible.  
One of the key milestones is "the talk."  Back in the day, 13 was the age where kids needed to hear about the birds and the bees.  Today, it should happen earlier - much earlier.  We encourage families to utilize Passport to Purity from Family Life.  It is an interactive experience for parents and kids to talk about responsibility in relationships and Biblical sexuality.
Some MILESTONES center around significant birthdays.  Not every birthday is created equally.  Some of the more significant birthdays are 10, 13, 16, 18 and 21.  As our kids age, we need to move them toward adulthood, independence, and launching their future.

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  1 Corinthians 13:11  
We wish we could just push pause and they wouldn’t grow up.  We wish they would just stay as they are, but that isn’t possible and it’s not best.  We must celebrate their steps (or milestones) toward adulting.

  • 10 because you are now double digits and entering into preteen challenges
  • 13 because you are now a teenager and trying to figure out where you fit in the world
  • 16 because you can legally drive and are accountable for how you use your freedom
  • 18 because you are now able to vote and have some adult privileges and responsibilities
  • 21 because you are an adult who can live for Jesus

Parent Challenge:  Some give their kids freedom under 18, but no responsibilities.  My take is that this is backwards.  Under 18, limit freedom but raise responsibility.  That way, they will use their freedom responsibly when they have it.

Some MILESTONE moments are also celebrations of accomplishments.  Perhaps that is the accomplishment of their first job, graduation from high school, acceptance into college or even marriage.  No matter the accomplishment, don't just celebrate what your child has accomplished, use this as an opportunity to launch them into the future and to celebrate what God has done.