Lord Jesus, thank you for today. And this incredible topic we get to talk about, what a privilege, but really a heavy responsibility to be parents that are seeking to raise a godly legacy that honors you, knows you, expand your kingdom. So Lord, give us wisdom and direction as we talk about this that would really, really help people. I pray it would change homes and the way families are doing what they're doing.
I pray it would inspire parents with a new grander vision of who they are and what they're about and could really create godly legacies that would change the world. So we give this to you and ask you to lead us. In Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.
Amen. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. I have asked, I would guess, hundreds of parents. You know, as a pastor, they come up after a service or something, and we're talking, and I've asked them, like, what's your goal? What's your plan?
As a parent, what are you hoping to raise as your sons or daughters become adults? Guess how many? Give me a percentage.
I'm asking you. How many people, a percentage, parents said, I have a plan? Ten. I think it's three.
Really? Yeah, I don't know an actual percentage, and there I was asking you for one. I'm thinking if my parents, like, did my parents have, no, they didn't have a plan. And I'm thinking of us as young parents. We're barely surviving the day, let alone having a plan. Do you think it's important to have a plan?
Yeah, I mean, when I was asking them, they look at you like, I mean, literally, they just get a frown, like, what are you talking about? We're just trying to survive. You know, what are you talking about of a plan? But I mean, you know, as we sat down when we were young parents, and it was crazy, we did decide we have to have an idea of what we're trying to do, right? Yeah, well, we needed help.
We've got help in the studio today. We've got a couple who wrote a book about this. And you know, when you write a book, that means you're an expert, right? Yeah, we've got Josh and Jen Mobilehill in the studio, wrote a book about this.
And I'm looking at them, they're smiling, because you're probably smiling at us because you think we're clueless about this? But you know, you guys wrote a book about this, about having a parenting plan, which we'll get into in a second. But let me ask you the same question. Have you asked other parents and do you find that parents have a plan?
I have. And as a pastor, similar to you, was shocked when found out that many did not and nothing against them. But many just weren't raised with that as a role model. And so just went into their parenting, doing what they were raised with. And I had a very good role model of parents who had great intentionality. And so I thought that was the norm only to learn that it wasn't and oh, man, and that partially is what many years ago launched my desire to put a resource like this in people's hands, recognizing that it wasn't something that many had implemented in their homes.
It's kind of that idea and that quote, if you aim at nothing, you will hit it. Every time. Yes. And you guys have been on family life today before. You've been several times, actually. You've written several books. You've even written a grandparenting book. Seven of them. You've got grandparents.
No, I know. But obviously you've had a vision and a passion for family and parenting. And this one is really, it's just a beautiful book.
Fifty Things Every Child Needs to Know Before Leaving Home, Raising Children to Godly Adults. And you wrote it together. So tell us a little bit about yourself. You've got a few kids. Yep.
Yep. We live in Minnesota. We have five kids and yeah, it's been a joy to raise them and work with them.
And we've been married for 21 years and by the grace of God, hopefully many, many more. But yeah, we're excited to minister to families and to, you know, our first priority is to minister to our own family. And so just walking alongside them, discipling them, but doing it in a way that is intentional and with a plan. I serve with a ministry called Renew A Nation, which exists to help children develop a biblical worldview. And that simply means we want our young people to think and live according to the Bible. And what more important places they're than in the home to help shape their hearts and their minds and then launch them into the world for Christ to make a huge difference for Him. And that's the end goal. At the end of the day, that's what we really want to see is our kids, you know, operating in the areas that God has called them to and living for Him. And of course, you know, when that doesn't happen for us as parents, there's a lot of heartache there and there's a lot that we can do today on the preventative and the intentional side to help our kids love Jesus Christ and serve Him. And so that's our heartbeat. That's our passion.
And this book is one of the tools towards that end, hopefully. And in some ways, it sounds like your passion, you sort of gain that from your parents. You mentioned earlier, they were very intentional. I was shocked by your story of when you went to lunch, I think, or something when you were 17 years old. So my parents were in full-time ministry, 37 years with crew, and many of my friends, they aren't walking with the Lord today. So I think it's a testimony to my parents, all four of us kids, that I'm the oldest of four.
We all are walking with the Lord today. And, you know, that's God's grace, but it was also part of their intentionality. So when I was 17, in between my junior and senior year, my parents invited us out for breakfast, or actually me out for breakfast, and slid a piece of paper across the table to me and said, you know, you're leaving in about nine months for college, and we want to make sure that we have accomplished some specific things in your life. And I looked at this piece of paper, and on it were all kinds of things from my childhood and my teen years. I had never seen it before, and it was things like spiritual habits and character traits and life skills, and just the things that, some of them were scriptural commandments, but many of them were just parenting preferences. But they had check marks and dates next to them as they had worked through them over the years with me.
And I remember looking at it thinking, oh man, I remember when we did that manners thing, like how to set a table, how to sit at a table, how to shake a hand, look somebody in the eyes, how to enter a room, how to even do laundry, and how to study the Bible. And some of them were just practical life kinds of things, and they asked, you know, is there anything on this list that you don't think we've accomplished? And it was essentially kind of their asking me to assess their parenting. And I remember looking over the list, and there was one, it was a small engine repair. I remember saying, you know, that's not happening, and that's just, I'm not wired that way. And so they crossed it off the list, and, you know, it really goes to show just how they were working on that over the years with us as kids.
And so the last nine months, they put some finishing touches on it, launched us. They did the same with my siblings, and I remember I went back to my dad not too long ago, and I said, do you still have that? Because, you know, I go out and speak on this, and people are like, I'd love to see that list, and he doesn't. He's like, it's probably in a file somewhere, but I can't find it. I just thought that was the norm for families, that parents were intentional to some degree like that, only realizing as a pastor that's not often the case.
And so... I mean, I'm sitting over here smiling because I'm like, I don't think I've ever met a parent that is that intentional. Jen, were your parents that way? My parents were very intentional. I mean, I grew up in a Christian home. I have two brothers.
We're all walking with the Lord. They were very intentional, not to the extreme degree of Josh's parents, but I mean, and I can even say, you know, my parents prepared me so well for, you know, launching, but there were some gaps, right? Like, I remember going to college, and I did not know how to do really simple things like do laundry.
And I remember... You just needed to meet Josh. I know, right? He already knows how to do laundry. Simple things like that, right? And as a parent, it's hard, right, if you don't have a plan to touch on every single thing.
But my parents did a great job. I mean, part of me is like, that's inspiring. The other part of me is like, that's scary. I'm depressed in a way.
Because I think I can't do it. If I split over a piece of paper to our sons, I'm thinking, what would I have put... And we were intentional of some things, but I do remember going to visit our oldest son in college, and he was rooming with some guys in a house. And I walked in like, this place is a pigsty. And then I go home, and I say to the younger brothers that are in the house, you guys... Like, they had chores growing up. Like, you are cleaning your rooms. You are changing the sheet. You are cleaning the bathroom. I need to see that you can clean the toilet and do it really well.
And they hated it. But I did feel like, oh, I have not equipped them for something as simple as knowing how to clean something like well. Yeah. And so is it possible for parents like us that I'm not saying we're not clueless, but we're not as intentional as your parents? We're not great planners. That in my mind is like, wow, that's the top. That's a high bar, sliding over a piece of paper with dates and check marks, which is awesome. But I'm sure there's a lot of parents listening who are like, wow, I don't think I could ever do it like that, but I could do it differently. So if you're not wired quite like that, how would you work this out as a parent?
That's Dave and Anne Wilson with Josh and Jen Mulvihill on family life today. We'll hear their response in just a minute. Have you ever found yourself doom scrolling? You know what I mean, where you just keep seeing post after post of a world basically losing its mind?
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That's 1-800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, now back to Dave and Anne's conversation with Josh and Jen Mulvihill and what you can do to prepare your kids for life, even if you're not exactly as intentional or as organized as the Mulvihills. I think many times we don't have a plan when it comes to an area that matters the most. And whatever area of life that is, we're probably going to suffer for it.
So let's just use a different area of life to compare. If it's in our finances and we don't have a budget, you know, we can get by. But we're going to be more impactful, more effective if we have an idea, a plan for our money. Same with retirement. None of us want to get to the day when we are ready to move into that retirement age and go, oh, man, I didn't think about this at all and now I've got a world of problems that I now need to sort through. Or even building a home.
I'm sure you could build a house without any kind of blueprint or architectural plan, but you're going to have some form of chaos. And the same would be true for raising our kids. Do you need that level of intentionality? Probably not, but it is helpful to have some goals, some plan, some clarity about what we're aiming at, and some way to get at that end goal. And so many of us, we're on a path, but are we on the right path? And is what we're doing on a daily basis actually helping us get to the end goal that we think we want or hope we want? And one of the things that I think I've seen is that many times we have these misplaced priorities that we say one thing's really important. We want our kids to know, love, and serve Jesus. I bet everyone listening, any Christian listening, would say that's kind of the heart of what we're getting at. But then we look at our calendar on a daily basis and the things that we're doing, do they help us actually accomplish that?
And many times there's just a miss there. And so we've put things on our calendar that they get our affection, they get our time, they get our energy. Like sports. Yeah, and they're not bad things. Activities. They do take us down a path, and they communicate something to our kids about what we think is most important. And they have the potential to become an idol in our home or in our kids' lives.
We could list a lot of them. And so we need to be careful as parents that what we're doing on a daily basis, and this gets into the planning stuff, do they actually help us at the end of the day accomplish what we think from Scripture God's calling us to accomplish as parents? So not only do we need clarity on that, we also want to match that to the home.
And that's where I think there's sometimes a miss on both of those sides of things, the misplaced priorities and then the intentionality, the planning at home. Jen, did you guys have a plan? Like, did you write it out? How did that come about that you thought, OK, we need to have a plan in place? Yeah, we did. We did. So we started writing our own parenting plan when our oldest was, I think, one year old, I want to say.
Oh, it's even more depressing. We sent him to my parents' house, and we took a weekend, and we had no money. I mean, we were very, very poor. We stayed in like this little cabin. It didn't even have a bathroom. We stayed there for a couple nights. How do you stay in a cabin with no bathroom? It was like a rural Minnesota. So the woods?
Yeah, you'd have to walk to like a little outhouse thing. The pedestal I have you on just keeps getting higher. But we just took a weekend to be together and to think big picture and think about who are these young people that we're raising. You know, we had this little one-year-old guy who's such a blessing and such a joy. But we took a couple days to just throw it all out there and to make sure we're on the same page and talk about, you know, who are these young people? Like, what do we want to see at the end?
And so we stayed up late and talked. I mean, we wrote out just pages and pages and pages of, you know, what does it look like? What do we want our children to know spiritually? And how do we want them to interact with others relationally?
And, you know, what skills do we want them to know to fly the coop, right, and to have those skills to live on their own? So we started very big picture and just threw it all out there. And then what would we do on a yearly basis?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So we started. And then now every year what we do is we take a weekend or a day. I mean, depending on the schedule, you know, we've had seasons where we have five children. So it takes a special person to be able to come and to watch five children for a weekend. So some years we go away and we find a cozy spot and we talk through what we're doing with our kids for the year.
And sometimes we take a day. And so practically what that looks like is we spend time assessing the prior year and we discuss our children as individuals. So you go through each child. We go through each child.
Yeah. So we'll talk about each one and what is their year looked like and what are we observing in them? And what do we see the Lord doing in their life?
And what are some spiritual skills and things that we want to develop in them in the coming year? Did you guys ever fight about this? I don't think we ever have. No.
I'm trying to think. One of the things that we talk about when we encourage families, couples to do this is that you're on the same team. You need to set down our weapons and it's really easy to criticize. It's really easy to attack the other person, especially if there's a challenge going on in the home or with any child individually.
And that's a good reminder because it doesn't take much on these weekends. You make a snarky comment or you say something that really it just hurts the other person and it'll change the entire dynamic. I'm even thinking of the spouse that's married to someone that maybe isn't quite on the same level spiritually, maturity wise. And so I think it can be easy to think, well, I know so much more. And so we can be almost condescending or belittling. But even though that could be true, each spouse carries a level of expertise and passion and maybe they didn't have it perfect growing up.
But because they didn't have it perfect, they still have this dream of what it could have been. Absolutely. And so I think it's really good that you're listening to one another and you're hearing each other because you're different.
You need both the mom and the dad. As early parent, I mean, we see we were 20, how old were we, 28 when we had our first child. I mean, we didn't know. We still don't know a lot, but we didn't know a lot as 28 year olds. So the nice thing is, you know, it's helping us get on the same page as a couple. And many times we have different priorities, different visions for what we're working with with our children.
And I found that to be one of the most valuable things with Jen. Not only that, we want to have fun on these times. I mean, this isn't all like sit down.
It's not all like hard nose planning, right? We have fun. We want to have fun and build our relationship and strengthen our marriage. But also just to get on the same page as far as a parenting philosophy, because we could be all over the board. And then if we have two separate views of what we're working for in the home with our kids, I mean, our kids are smart. They know which parent to play, right? And if we're not on the same page as one in our parenting, that becomes problematic down the road.
So that I found is one of the most valuable pieces. But the assessment piece, how are we doing as parents? Many times we don't stop and truly look under the hood. And if there are issues going on with any specific children, this is a good opportunity to say, what do we need to do from a problem solving standpoint before hopefully it blows up into something that really is big? And then just to say, what one or two things are we going to really focus on this next year with each child? And for us then coming out of those times, we had some intentionality and plan then for the rest of the year to say, all right, with Kate, we're going to be working on biblical womanhood, which is what Jen's working on with Kate this year, or with our older boys, we have a 15 and 12 year old we're working on. We want them to develop their own study habits with scripture. And so of course, we've done that in their earlier years, but they're at the point now where they need to start owning this stuff. And so we've put some things in place with them this year on a weekly basis that we're trying to work with at home. So we bought a Bible dictionary and a concordance and a commentary and we want them to learn those tools. So we're studying through the book of Ephesians, a group of fathers and sons, and that came out of our planning times.
But that's where we're at with those two. And there's other things that we're doing. What are we working on? And we'll usually aim to come out of our time of planning together with those resources. So we will say, we're going to be working on biblical womanhood.
Let's use that as the example with Kate. So at the end of our weekend, we will have ordered those resources and we've looked at our calendar and we are trying to make sure we're on the same page in all facets of what does it take to implement what we're planning. And with our younger kids, sometimes it's as simple as, you know, we're working on reinforcing obedience or we're going to be memorizing some basic core scriptures with them. Or, you know, it looks different and more in-depth as our kids get older. But the goal is to come away from that weekend being on the same page and having those resources in hand or showing up at the house when we get back so that we can implement what we've planned. How do you guys advise a single parent or a blended family who now you've got a couple households under your roof?
How do you do that? Well, I'm from a somewhat of a blended family. My mom died of ALS and my dad remarried.
I actually had the joy of officiating when I was a little older, so I was obviously as an adult a little different. But I've lived through that personally for the last decade plus. And it's not easy. You know, it just takes time in a blended family scenario to mesh. You know, I think Grace is huge in a blended family scenario. And obviously there are multiple factors happening in multiple homes. And, you know, you can't control what's happening in a different home. And I think there has to be a willingness to just release that and focus on what you can focus on and what you can control. And with our home and our situation and our blended families, it really focused on relationships first. And that was a huge priority with the establishment of our family. Yeah, I mean, and obviously letting the parent take the lead right in that planning process. As I'm sitting here listening to you and reading through your book, here's what's striking me. Two words, priority, intentionality.
And again, you've used sort of those words. But Josh, when you were saying earlier, man, you're going to have a plan if you're going to build a house or manage money. Here's what hit me. I was thinking, man, of all the things we do in life, this is at the top of the list. You know, as a married husband and wife, you want to make your marriage honor God. But as a parent, it's at the top of all the things I do at the end of my life.
I mean, you know, Stephen Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he says, begin with the end of mine, right? Picture your funeral. What do you want people to say?
I don't care about almost anything else. I want people to stand up. I want my sons to stand up and say, Dad was a man of God and he led us to be men of God.
I didn't have daughters, but, you know, I want my granddaughters to be able to say that. So I was thinking, even when you were saying earlier, Josh, you guys are talking about getting away to develop a plan. I thought, how many times have I got all excited about a golf weekend, you know, with my dudes? We're going to go play golf, which is great. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that.
I would still want to do that. But I tell you what, here's what I'm saying to a dad or a mom. And maybe you've got little kids and so you have time and maybe you've got teenagers, doesn't matter. Of all the things you're going to do this year, are you listening? I'm telling you right now, put it on the calendar.
Maybe you can't get away for a weekend, but maybe you can get a night and you start there and you say, honey, or you say to your husband, could we sit down and talk about what we want to do as parents with our kids? And again, you might not be the most intentional person in the world, but that's priority. That means of all the stuff I'm doing in my life, and I'm not saying your job doesn't matter.
Your job does matter. It's very important, but it doesn't matter as much as the legacy you hope to leave one day when you leave. And, you know, we're older now and we have grandkids. And I'm saying the only thing that really matters as we look back is how did we do as a parent raising men of God?
And so I would challenge a listener to say, you know, today's the day I can start. Because I bet a lot of doing what we did was like, wow, we blew it. We didn't do a good job with that. But, you know, it's like new creation.
You know, God's giving you a new chance right here, right now to say, you know what, that's the past. Maybe we haven't done a great job. You know, we're not going to be as great as, you know, you guys, but we can start. Never too late. Start right now. And I would say maybe just get on your knees. Say, OK, God, we got to build a plan.
And we need to talk a little bit more about what that would look like because you give them some great handles. But I think today is day one. You've been listening to Dave and Anne with Josh and Jen Mulvihill on Family Life Today. Their book is called 50 Things Every Child Needs to Know Before Leaving Home, Raising Children to Godly Adults.
You can order a copy at familylifetoday.com. Maybe this summer you've glimpsed some character in your kids that needs some help. Hey, I know I have.
But how do you tackle that kind of stuff? Well, I love this quote about Family Life's Art of Parenting Small Group Study. It says this, We had a very diverse study group from six different countries. It was an amazing experience of evaluating how culture and upbringing impacts our parenting styles, sometimes in opposition to the truth of God's word. We all agreed that this course was instrumental in reorienting our beliefs and practices toward Christ-centered parenting. It's beautiful. Maybe the art of parenting could sharpen your awareness and tactics, too.
Well, right now, you can save on all our small group studies with the code 25OFF, that's 250FF. Learn more at familylifetoday.com. Tomorrow, Dave and Anne Wilson will continue their conversation with Josh and Jen Mulvihill and help us to refocus our attention on what is most important with our kids. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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