First, let me tell you a little about myself. My name is Matthew Houser I am a super committed follower of Jesus and love walking with Him. I am fired up about world missions 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 the 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 were 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 every day 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 in 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 80s 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 reads the Bible and did all of it with me sitting there watching and participating. He explained how every day 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 to 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 too, 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 introduced 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!
Thanks for the infinite wisdom. I have 2 daughters your age.
Wow I love this! My oldest is 14 and I often wonder how I’m going to push him to find Jesus. Now I know to get him into more situations where Jesus will find him instead. Thanks for putting this out there.
Thank you, Matthew! As a mom of an almost teenager, I so appreciate your perspective. This really did encourage me and I thank you. I know the Lord will keep those 3 points always in my heart. Be blessed and may God use you mightily (He already is)!
Thank you for sharing your heart. I am praying for my children, 12 and 13, to have an bc experience such as you did. I needed this encouragement today.
So good! Profound insights!
It is so neat to hear from your perspective. I am a mother of three boys ages 9, 6, and 2. My husband and I worry about being “too” protective. I know that once they are exposed to evil it is so difficult to undo. We are realistic and know that at some point they will be poisined by the sin of the world, but we also feel obligated to guard their hearts, minds and souls as long as possible.
We are particular about what they watch and who they spend time with. I often look back at my childhood and there are so many sins I could have avoided if I was protected. How much is too much protection from your perspective?
Thanks so much and God Bless!
Thank you so much for sharing this! I am the mom of four girls and one boy. There are days when I think I am doing just what you said, but there are other days when I feel like the ultimate joy/fun sucker. Thankfully, my children continue to love me as I am. This was an excellent remind that my job as a mom is to point my kids to Jesus and pray and believe he will take care of the rest.
I love this question! I am about to get REAL here, and I hope it encourages you.
There was a kid across the street from our old house that it would have been better if I had not met him or hung out with him. My parents gave me too much freedom, and most of the bad things I was exposed to happened there. I know my life would be different/better if I was not exposed to those things. I am now thankful for the new life I have in Christ and the ability to walk in victory over sin.
As I got older and my parents knew all that happened, my friends changed and my parents were way more in touch with my friends and their families. They did it in a very cool way and so at the time, I did not even realize what was going on. But as I look back, I can see how they invited my friends over, and reached to their families. They really got to know everyone before I was released to hang with them. This was a game changer and helped me huge.
One other thing I want to share, is my parents found great ways to do this and did not act controlling or religious. This was important, because I know I would have pushed against this hard. They kinda were the funnest people to hang with, so I was stoked to have my friends over to meet them.
Thank you as a mom I really appreciate you taking the time to share.
You continue to be one of my favorite people on this Earth! I love what you shared in this article.
When Brian and I met your parents we had not had a lot of instruction as to how to raise kids that would love the Lord, live for Jesus and stay connected with their family. YOUR family has been one of the main examples my family has followed over the years and I am so thankful God used all of you to instruct us!
Lots of love and hugs from Utah 💛
Merci beaucoup, yes many thanks for your very relevant, encouraging and informative testimony, to help us, parents, to be right and helpful with our children.
Matthew, you are one of the finest young men we know. It’s so awesome to see the light you are to everyone you come in contact with. You make Jesus proud to call you HIS! You have an incredible story that I know Jesus is using and will continue to use to bring freedom to His people!!! We love you with all our hearts!!! -Your Texas Fam. ♥️
What a valuable perspective! Keep talking and blogging or whatever it is you’re doing! Making your dad your best friend will mAke you miles ahead of your peers, keep you accountable and keep the devil at bay . Wow! Amazing!
Thank you for sharing your perspective. I appreciate input from parents who have been there, but it’s not often that as a parent I get to hear from a young person. I heard a great interview with Sally Jones of The Jesus Storybook Bible. She said that we parents are not our children’s Holy Spirit. So my job is to pray and model and pray and model and pray and model all while making space for relationship with my kids. I really like what you said about creating space and opportunities for our kids to have experiences with other God followers.