First, let me tell you a little about myself. My name is Matthew Houser and I am 18 years old! I am a super committed follower of Jesus and love walking with Him. I also love the Church and am there at least twice a week. I am fired up about world missions and and want to see the nations reached with God’s love. I like to travel, golf, hike, ski, and just about anything outside. I am also an entrepreneur and have started my own company, had employees and even tried to sell the company before my family moved to another state. I have a lot of excitement for life and love encouraging others around me.
I have a passion to see more teens my age sold out for God. I have been telling my Dad for a while that I have things on my heart that I would like to share with parents to encourage them with their kids. Here are my three things that I want to encourage you with! Let’s get into it!
1. Creating Space For Your Kids To Encounter God
My parents wanted us to follow Jesus. My parents talked a lot about God and we spent time at church as a family. You name it, we did. I did things like VBS and Awana and often had fun at church hanging out with other kids. However, I was not really connecting with God and had not given my life to Him. I even got baptized to please my parents, but I was not a follower of Jesus. As I hung out in the Christian world, I would wonder, Why are we doing this? As I grew older, my parents were aware that I was not walking with God and they were praying for me. They were also super cool, always loving me and not putting religious things on me as they knew I needed a relationship with God, not religion.
My parents wanted me to experience God’s presence and have an encounter with Him. I am not sure if they wanted me knocked off a horse like Paul, but I knew they wanted me to encounter Him. They started creating spaces for me to experience God, like sending me to incredible camps with other kids my age who where following Jesus, inviting cool Jesus followers to the house to let me hang with them, and even took us on a month long mission trip to Fiji with one of my heroes in life. When they did this, they loved on me and prayed for me.
In 2013 I was invited to this youth camp in Texas. My parents encouraged me to go and said that they would pay for the entire trip. My sister had gone the year before and her life had been changed and she was on fire for Jesus. I decided that I probably was not going to go because I had something else come up, but really in my heart I just did not want to go. My sister started to pray for me and everyday tell me that I needed to go and that God was going to change my life. Welp! Sure enough, I went to camp and I experienced God’s amazing presence is a powerful way. I felt His amazing love for me and gave my life to Jesus. Since then, it has not been perfect, but I am fully committed to following Him for the rest of my life.
2. Watching You
Do any of you remember the commercial from the 80’s where the Dad catches his son doing drugs and says “Where did you learn how to do this?” And the son replies “ I learned it from watching you.” I feel like we learn more from our parents by watching their life than we do from what they say. One of the things that impacted my life most was watching my parents walk with God. I would always see (and hear) my Dad in particular spending time with God and I often would hear him praying from his bedroom or office.
One thing that has helped me most in my relationship with God is spending time with Him, reading the Bible, worshiping and praying. The cool thing is, I really learned this from my Dad. When I was 12 or 13, my Dad told me that he wanted to invite me into his quiet time so I could see how he spent time with the Lord. So the day came and I went and had a quiet time with him. This might sound weird, but it was really cool. He showed me how he worships, prays and read the Bible and did all of it with me sitting there watching and participating. He explained how everyday looks different, but normally has all the elements of worship, Word and prayer. This was so practical and good, and I could see how he was really connecting with God. Now, I have my own quiet times and they look very similar of what he showed me back then. Pretty cool!
3. Become Friends
As I have gotten older my parents and I have really grown in our friendship. I really love being close with my parents and having a great relationship with them. I believe this relationship was formed over time as we grew in trusting one another. When I was younger, my parents told me that if I did anything wrong just to tell them and the consequences would not be severe… but if I was caught doing something bad, the consequences would be severe. Well, I did some bad and dumb things and guess what? I would tell them. At first I was scared to, but then I learned that they were not going to freak out. (Although, I knew sometimes they wanted to.) In fact, they would love, forgive and help me walk through some of the hard times. These moments also taught me I could trust them. This was so important because when I was young, I had a neighbor across the street introduce me to pornography and I don’t think I would be able to walk out in victory if I had not told my Dad and been able to walk with him through it.
I want to encourage you to try to spend as much time as you can just hanging out with your kids! Be bold, ask them questions about how they are doing and ask lots of specific questions. Get them talking and enjoy the relationship with them. When they tell you something you don’t like, don’t freak out… this may shut them down, but talk and build your relationship with them.
I would love to hear your feedback below in the comments section. Matthew!