It’s Just a Phase, So Don’t Miss It.
Reggie Joiner | December 07, 2015
That's how long you have from the time a child is born until the time he or she graduates from high school.
Most people have a mixed reaction to this reality. I've had moms and dads get tears in their eyes when they understood how fast the weeks are counting down. But the more important reaction is this: When these same parents realize how much time they have left, they start doing more with the time they have now.
At this year's Catalyst conference, I had the opportunity to talk with leaders about how they can partner with parents to make the most of every week for every kid. Admittedly, what a church leader thinks about most is probably Sunday morning. But it's really Monday that makes the difference. How does Sunday morning better prepare parents for Monday morning and the rest of the week? And how does a month of Sundays (and 936 weeks of Sundays) prepare a kid for a lifetime of knowing God?
That's why we say this: It's just a phase, so don't miss it.
A phase in a kid's life isn't something to be survived, gotten through, or passed over. A phase is an opportunity—usually lasting about 52 weeks—to engage children in a new way that recognizes the intricacies and nuances at each stage of life. A phase is something to be valued, celebrated, and leveraged.
For us, a phase in a kid's life is defined as a timeframe when you can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence their future.
In every phase, we recognize there are three things we need to be attentive to:
present realities to understand,
distinct opportunities to leverage,
and significant relationships to influence.
There's one thing that every parent cares about—whether that parent is part of a church or not. The parents inside your church and the many more parents outside of your church care about this one thing: Every parent cares about the future of their child.
They care about future friendships, future education, future careers, and everything else that's going to happen as one phase turns into another.
Because a phase gives a parent an opportunity to leverage distinctive opportunities for that future, a parent's role is redefined at every phase. As a new phase approaches, the questions a kid will ask change from "Who am I?" to "Am I safe?" to "Do I have what it takes?" to "Who do I like?" to "Why do I believe?" and so many others.
Those questions change at each phase because with every phase comes a unique crisis. The crisis prompts the question, the question prompts a conversation, and sometimes the conversation offers a few answers that a kid might be able to take hold of.
Many reasons exist why a parent or a leader might miss a phase, but here's the most important one: Sometimes we forget that every single kid and every single teenager is made in the image of God.
Jesus made this clear when He stood a child in front of the disciples and said, "Whoever welcomes one of these welcomes me." He said that because He knew what we too often forget: those kids are made in the image of God.
Every kid has a divine capacity to . . .reason, improve, and lead. care, relate, and trust. believe, to imagine . . . even to love.
So maybe you're thinking about the phase your kids are in. Maybe it's the dirty diaper phase, and it's hard to see the image of God in all that mess. Or the teenage driving phase and it's even harder to see the image of God in all THAT mess.
But Jesus made it clear: No one should feel more welcomed than a screaming baby, a bratty kid, a hormonal middle schooler or a defiant teenager.
Some people miss it because they treat kids like they are not old enough, smart enough, mature enough, important enough or even Christian enough to really do or learn anything.
Every one of those kids, though, is made in the image of God. And every phase is a distinctive opportunity to make sure those kids know you see that too. Even if it’a just a phase.