By Leslie Hollowell
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. James 1:19
Recently I had the privilege of speaking to a class for parents of teens. I have worked with teen girls for over 20 years. I now work in biblical counseling and have the privilege of opening God’s Word with teen girls. I get excited to share truth and get to know them and the many struggles they have in their teenage world.
It is safe to say, things have changed in a big way since my teenage years, and I have more of an urgency than ever to get to know this new generation of kids and strive to train and teach them from God’s Word in order that they might live their life in light of that truth.
One of the things I chose to do was a survey among the teens of our church. This survey consisted of approximately 500 teens ranging in grades 6-12. I asked them four questions that were both eye-opening and informative.
Although I wish I had time to share results from all four questions, today I’m going to only share one question that seemed to have a high number of the same answer.
The question was:
What do you wish your parents would do a little differently in the way they handle things with you?
A high percentage of the answers that I received from this question were the same:
- LISTEN MORE
- TALK LESS
- DON’T YELL SO MUCH
We as parents want our children to be good and do well and act right.
But the fact is, our children are going to do more of what they see us do than what they hear from us.
Paul tells the Church of Corinth in 1 Corinthians 11:1, Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.
So, if our example is yelling and getting angry and refusing to listen, it goes without saying, they too, will begin to put our example into practice. No matter how much we talk, they will refuse to listen and they will easily get angry and yell or just choose to shut down altogether.
As I began to ponder the information that I had gathered, I realized that this question can hit us in any stage of life with our children. I began to ask the Lord what we as parents might do differently according to Scripture (since Psalm 119:105 says, His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path) as we seek to train our children.
Here are a few biblical reminders that we as parents can strive to put into place in our own lives that will benefit and train our children as they seek to follow our example.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this; everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.
As parents, it is so much easier to react in the moment, but our teens need our love, encouragement, and a listening ear.
James 1:20 goes on to say, Because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
Being quick to listen and slow to speak definitely takes self-control, as does being slow to become angry. But it is so important that we choose to start taking time to listen more to our kids and seeking to yell and get angry less. This truly is important for us as parents if we desire for righteousness to be produced both in our lives and in our children’s lives.
As parents, we must set aside time to spend with our kids without the pressures of life surrounding us. We can go on walks with our kids or take them out to dinner or cook a meal together where phones are put away. When you have quiet, peaceful moments, your children are more likely to open up and share their hearts with you. It’s so important that we are good listeners in order to earn the right to speak into the lives of our kids.
In all honesty, as a counselor, I’ve had to train myself to be a good listener, because it doesn’t always come naturally. But, I would challenge you as a parent to train yourself to listen more to your children and talk less, and when they do open up with you about the struggles of life, strive to keep a straight face and keep listening. This then helps you earn the right to speak into their lives when the time comes.
I’ve learned through the years, as I’ve counseled with teenage girls, that they truly will listen to anyone who will take the time to listen to them; and rest assured, we want wise and godly people speaking into their lives, not all the ungodly wisdom that they are many times getting from their YouTube encounters. (That’s a subject for another blog/post.)
Let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance.
As I read the verse above, I began to ask the Lord to help me be a better listener in order that I might be wise and learn.
There are so many things that our kids are faced with (due to the amount of social media and internet and numerous television channels) that we ourselves as parents didn’t encounter as a kid. Thus, I am always seeking to get wisdom and discernment from other parents and biblical based teaching that can help me look at the many situations that our kids in this generation are faced with and view them through the lens of Truth. There is no one who has it all together, but God’s Word says in Proverbs 13:20 that we can walk with the wise and grow wise…
My husband and I long to walk with parents who are ahead of us in this parenting journey and who are seeking to live their lives in light of the Gospel and the truth of God’s Word, in order that we both can seek to be wise and listen and add to our learning as parents.
The last thing I’ll share are some verses from 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12
Paul is sharing with the Church of Thessalonica and he tells them in verses 11-12,
For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting, and urging them to live lives worthy of God…
I love how Paul pointed out how a father should deal with his children:
He should encourage them, comfort them, and yet urge them to live lives worthy of God.
Parents, if there is one thing I’ve learned from working with teenagers, it’s that they need our encouragement. They need us to value them, train them, encourage them in who God designed them to be. They need our comfort, support, and patience. They don’t need us to be perfect, but they do need us to be biblical and they need us to seek to put God’s Word into practice in our own lives so they have a biblical example to follow. They need us to forgive and ask for forgiveness. To be kind, joyful, gentle, and yet discipline them as our Heavenly Father disciplines us. Our desire as a parent should be to “take notes” from God’s Word and seek to put them into practice in our own lives.
Acts 4:13, says:
WHEN THEY SAW the courage of Peter and John and realized they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and THEY TOOK NOTE that they had been with Jesus.
May our children SEE our lives and TAKE NOTE that we have spent time with Jesus!
“Kingdom parenting isn’t perfect parenting. Kingdom parenting is purposeful parenting.” Dr. Tony Evans
Leslie is an Alabama girl who now lives in Memphis, Tennessee with her husband, Ronnie, and their son, Hudson. Leslie considers being a wife and mommy the best job ever having married her husband at 38-years-old and birthing their son at 42-years-old. She is a former elementary school teacher and eventually made her way toward full-time Christian ministry as a girls ministry leader in her church. She is the founder of Beyond the Eye Girls Ministry and travels to speak to local churches leading one-day girls’ conferences. She has a heart for discipleship, mentoring, teaching, and encouraging young women to follow after God with all their hearts.