Extraordinary Parenting

2017 Messages

JP challenges us to think about how we can parent extraordinarily. He gives us 10 ways that any parent can be an extraordinary in the way that they raise their children. For more great resources on parenting, visit watermark.org/parenting.

Jonathan PokludaMay 28, 2017Proverbs 4:23; Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Hello, Watermark, how are we doing? I want to welcome our campuses in on the stream. If you are somewhere around the world stepping away from your Memorial Day plans to tune in with us this morning, I'm glad you are. I want to welcome Fort Worth and Plano. I'm really excited about where we're headed today. Have you guys seen this video that has gone viral of this dad who went to pick up his son from school? Okay, some of you have. A lot of you haven't.

He's a pastor. He was here at the church leaders' conference. It has over 20 million views now. His wife is just filming with an iPhone. Let me give you the backstory before I show it. The son was complaining about taking the bus and just kept saying, "Dad, none of the other kids have to ride the bus. Why can't you pick me up? Just pick me up from school." After hearing this a few times, the dad said, "Okay, I'll pick you up from school." Watch this.


Here's what happens when you see something like that. There's this dichotomy that happens. Half of you, maybe even more than half of you based on the laughter, are like, "That's genius. Why didn't I think about that? He's dad of the year. Way to go." Then there's another half of you or some fraction of you who's like, "That's child abuse. He's going to pay for that later when that kid leaves the home and hates him and reflects back on, 'Remember when you came to school in a Speedo?'"

That's what happens with parenting. You just don't know. Some people are like, "No, this is how you do it." They have really strong opinions. "This is the way. This is how you discipline. These are the things you need to do. I read Baby Wise." Then others are like, "No, I'm in this other camp. I've read this other new book. I have this other thought." What I feel like as a dad is there's no par. I just want to know how I'm doing. Somebody show me how I'm stacking up against the others. Am I doing okay? Am I doing the best I can? Are the kids going to turn out okay?

We want some sort of measurable. I've heard it said that extraordinary people come from extraordinary parents. I'm like, "Yeah, but what makes an extraordinary parent?" So stay tuned with me this morning, because I'm going to tell you the other half of the story before you leave. That's what I want to talk about for the next few minutes. There are some things extraordinary parents do, and there are three reasons I want to cover this this morning.

First is because Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer for a lot of us, which means we're going to have more time and more exposure to our kids, if you have them, if they're home from school. Do you have a plan? That's tomorrow. Do we have a plan? Are we going into the summer with a plan? You're not alone. Don't panic. We're going to help you. Next week we kick off Significant Summer.

Our kids' ministry here has invested a ton of time and resources to help you. Whatever age your kids are, you can click on a button. It's watermark.org/parenting. All of the information is there. The application for you today is just that everyone here would go there. So that's the first reason I want to speak about this.

The second reason… Let me say this. I am well aware… Like, what do I know about parenting? I'm right in the middle of the experiment. I shouldn't even be allowed to speak on this. I mean, you haven't seen the results from our home, but here's what I learned. I'm surrounded by some amazing parents. I've seen parents whose kids now have kids.

I've talked to them on a regular basis, and I just started asking those parents questions. "Hey, what did you guys do?" I started hearing some really consistent answers. I started interviewing the kids. "Hey, what did your parents do that made your home exceptional?" I started writing down their answers. I started seeing patterns. I want to pass those on to you today.

Lastly, the third reason I want to speak on this is because I've spent the last 11 years of my life in young adult ministry, which means I've spent the last 11 years of my life with the results of parenting. Every single Tuesday night after The Porch I stand right here. There's a line of folks, and I begin to talk to them about some of the challenges and successes they're facing, some of the victories and some of the challenges they're facing.

I begin to see these patterns, and as I begin to ask questions and look into their upbringing, I can begin to see, almost like a chart or a graph, these things that just connect together. Certainly there are exceptions, but there are a lot of remarkable patterns. So what do extraordinary parents do? The word extraordinary just means weird or remarkable. I just showed you weird. Weird is Dad in a Speedo. That's weird, but what would make a remarkable parent?

Let me say this, because I know a lot of you aren't parents. As I've thought about who does this list of 10 things really well… We actually celebrated her at staff prayer on Tuesday. She has never been married. She has never birthed a child of her own. She's over there caring for your kids right now, and she lives the 10 things I'm going to give you today. You don't have to wait until you have your own child to make disciples. This is really a disciple-making message. All 10 of these things you can apply whether you have children of your own or not.

The reason this matters so much is because parenting is God's plan for passing on what he values. We see this in Deuteronomy 6. There's a new generation rising up whether you like it or not. They're very different from you. They have new technologies and different experiences and things that are going on in their world that didn't exist in your world. We have to pass on to them the things that God the Creator of the heavens and the earth values, and the way he said we will do this is in the home. It's through parenting.

So this message is for anybody who is a parent, who wants to be a parent, or who had imperfect parents, because we can see as we go through this list some of the things that may impact our relationship with God. If you're here and you don't want to be a parent and you had perfect parents, just feel free to go to lunch, and the rest of us will dive in. We're going to go through a list of 10 things that extraordinary parents do, supported by Scripture.

Let me just hit one more time on this word extraordinary. First Peter 2 calls us to be strangers and aliens, foreigners and exiles. To follow Jesus is a commitment to being weird. It's a commitment to being strange. So if your kids are like, "None of the other parents do that," just pat yourself on the back. "Good. I'm doing it right, then, because I'm a stranger and an alien."

We are weird parents. We're extraordinary parents. We're out of the ordinary parents. We should do things differently. The Scripture calls us to live a life that's not worldly, not ordinary, but extraordinary, out of the ordinary, different. Strangers, aliens…that's who we are. One way we're different from ordinary parents in the world is that we see kids as a gift.

1._ Extraordinary parents see children as a blessing._ Ordinary parents see children as an inconvenience that causes us to change the way we live. They're nuisances that invade our lives. This one was really difficult for me. I missed on this for a long time. I'm an extrovert. I like to go and do. I love my wife. I love to be with her. I love one-on-one time with her. I love to go on dates or on vacation with her, so this idea of bringing a child into the home to change everything about us and to kind of put us on house arrest for a season didn't sound like a lot of fun.

It wasn't something I wanted to do. Honestly, when it happened, it wasn't a lot of fun. Year two in marriage we had a baby. The wheels fell off of our marriage. Do you want to know why? It's because I'm selfish, and I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I wasn't ready to change, and I didn't see this as a calling on my life. Then I read Psalm 127:3-5, which says, "Children are a heritage from the Lord , offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."

A friend who went to The Porch who grew up and got married and was considering starting a family went to a parenting class here, listened to a panel of parents, and at the end of it he just raised his hand and said, "Why should I do this? None of you made this sound fun or like a good idea. You all just told me how hard it was going to be and how much it was going to change my life. So why should I?" He left that class not wanting to have kids of his own.

I think we need to be careful that the narrative we communicate aligns with the heart of God, that children are a gift from him. They are a blessing. Sometimes when we try to play God and control that too much, it says something else to the world. We go into life with a really clear plan that sometimes is more ordinary than extraordinary. This has been the biggest shift over the past 10 years of my own heart: learning that my kids are a gift and a blessing and really starting to enjoy them and love being with them and having fun with them and laughing with them and playing with them.

The last thing I would tell you on this note… A dear friend of mine's wife gave birth to their daughter the day before yesterday who died in the womb. He texted me yesterday and said, "You tell Watermark, JP, that kids are a gift and not to take them for granted." I'm learning that. I don't want to lose one to have to learn that. I'm grateful that he didn't lose one to have to learn that. He knew that, that kids are a gift. We see them as a gift, and we help them navigate this world, which is full of things that are corrupt.

2._ Extraordinary parents teach kids about boundaries_. Ordinary parents don't let their kids be bored. They constantly fill them with entertainment every second on their device. We went to dinner just the day before yesterday. Weston is sitting there. "Can I have your phone? Can I have your phone? Can I have your phone?" It's maybe just me, but it's like "Okay…" A lot of times I cave, like, "Fine. Here, take it." I'm really working on, "You know what? It's okay for you to sit there and listen to adult conversation and be bored. Because I had to. I didn't have any device."

We have no idea what that's going to do to them. We have no idea how these little devices are going to impact them. Ordinary parents let their kids date too early, long before they're ready for marriage, so that the only thing that is sure to happen is emotional brokenness. I see it all the time up here every Tuesday. Ordinary parents don't want to pry into their phones or computers or texts, so they sit naively by while their kids have a gateway to any explicit thing Satan wants to put in front of them.

They don't know what apps are on their phone or how they're used or what they're doing. Ordinary parents send them overnight to places where they have no idea the topic of conversation that happens after midnight or what else might take place. I've learned from extraordinary parents that kids are like storage containers, that their hearts are constantly being filled with information, and you are competing with the world.

You're competing with TVs and iPhones and iPads, devices, billboards, friends, teachers, older siblings of their friends, other parents, aunts and uncles. You're competing with the entire world. It's a game of who's going to fill their hearts with the most "said truth." Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.""With all vigilance, diligently guard the heart."

It's a hostile language. It's a military language, like a soldier who's armed at the front of a castle, taking hostage anybody who would try to get in. We're teaching them to do this, to protect what they feed their hearts. I have the same conversation up here every single Tuesday. I have a young man or young woman… "I need help."

"What do you need? How can I help you? How can I pray for you? Where can I point you?"

"I'm addicted to porn."

"Oh man, I'm sorry to hear that. I know that journey too well. How did you access porn? When did it start?"

"Fifth grade."

"For 12 years you've been addicted, huh?"

"Yeah, 12 years." That's a long time. That's going to mess up somebody's heart. We have no idea how badly that messes up somebody's heart.

"How did it happen?"

"I went and stayed at a friend's house in fifth grade. Their uncle (or dad, whoever) had these magazines. My friend showed me this on a phone, iPad, computer. I saw something I couldn't get rid of. Then I went home, and then all of a sudden my whole life became about how to feed myself more of that thing I saw in a moment." That young man or young woman has no idea that they've destroyed their marriage long before they've ever even met their spouse.

If they could tell you something, parents, they would beg you to pry. "I wish you would have taken my phone and looked through it. I wish you would have had the hard conversations with me. I wish you'd have sat me down and said, 'What is this? I have to take this away from you.'" They'd beg you to do it for the sake of protecting their hearts. On Tuesday we talked about how our hearts seek more of what they're fed. I told you it's a competition.

3._ Extraordinary parents make the most of moments, constantly teaching their kids._ Ordinary parents let the church teach their kids about God's plan for their life. Ordinary parents outsource discipleship to other people, even though God says it starts in the home. The church is absolutely a resource to help you do this. You're not alone in this battle. You can reach out to us for help at any point in time. We will sit down with you, resource you, talk to you about a plan. We've put all of these resources online that you can go and get at any time. We want to help you. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 says:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."

This is God saying, "A future generation is rising up, parents, so every minute you spend with your kids, teach these truths I've entrusted to you to them. Pass them on to them. As I said, watermark.org/parenting. It has a plan. As we talk about making the most of moments, there are really four moments we focus on: morning time, meal time, drive time, and evening time. You can go and click on the ages of your kids, and we will give you a plan for morning time, meal time, drive time, and evening time. We want to help you.

One thing I've learned from Todd, something that he would do that we just started doing… As I take my girls to school, I'll quiz them on Bible verses. Every morning we're driving to school, and I'll just say, "Okay, who has Proverbs 4:23?" And they'll say, "I got it!" Whoever says, "I got it" first, that's like the buzzer. "Okay, go." They have two seconds or four seconds to start, and if they don't the other one can take over.

They'll say, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." I'll say, "Great. What does it mean?" Sometimes that stumps them. They're like, "It means to guard your heart." "Proverbs 31:30. Go. First Corinthians 6:19-20. Go. Matthew 6:33. Go. James 1:19, Ephesians 4:29." These are verses we go over every single morning so that when I drop them off to school it's fresh on their hearts.

Your kids are being taught right now. We have a list of questions online that you can ask them about what they learned today. You can even say, "Man, I don't know that story." You don't have to be embarrassed. "I don't know that story. Tell me. Where is it found? Let's read it together over lunch today." Let that drive your conversation as you share your next meal. They will learn what you teach them, but more than what you teach them, they will learn by your example.

4._ Extraordinary parents live as examples._ Ordinary parents say, "Jesus is important. You need to know God's Word," but their lives say otherwise. Their lives say that work is important or things are important or sports are important, that other priorities are important. Ordinary parents go at it alone instead of letting community speak in.

Ordinary parents say, "You should respect authority," but when they get home, they talk about their boss or the officer who gave them a ticket or the government, all while saying, "You need to respect authority." First Corinthians 11:1 says, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." Another conversation I have here every Tuesday… I say, "Man, how did you become a Christian?"

"Oh man, I strayed. I went to college and got mixed up with the wrong people, but you know what? I remember growing up, and I would wake up in the morning, and my mom was always up earlier than me." This is my story. I would never get up earlier than my mom was. She was there in the living room with a light and her Bible.

She can say this is important, but that she would get up and dive in there tells me what is really important. I would never go to bed and tell my parents goodnight without seeing my dad kneeling beside his bed, praying. These images had a profound impact, even when I was running from God. I hear it often on a lot of Tuesdays.

Another thing I hear on Tuesdays is "I was raised in a Christian home, but [insert hypocrisy]." "I was raised in a Christian home, but my dad would yell at my mom." "I was raised in a Christian home, but my mom would drink a lot." "I was raised in a Christian home, but…" You would insert some hypocrisy that has, "You know what? This isn't real."

It's like Karl Marx was raised in a Jewish home, but his dad converted to Christianity because it helped him with work, and he saw that religion was just a tool to manipulate people, so that's what he did. They'll learn what you teach them, but they'll learn even more from your example. The best thing I can do for my kids is study God's Word every day and do what it says, which is to say the best thing I can do for my children is to have an authentic relationship with Jesus that cannot be faked.

I was driving with one of them the other day, and we were just talking. They had just made a choice that was inconsistent with who they are in Jesus. These words came out of my mouth. I just said, "You know what? I know you know God. I know when we're doing those Bible drills you're rattling off those Scriptures. I know you know God. I'm just not convinced you love God."

As I sat in my own quiet time, I sensed the Lord saying to me, "Well, then, show them how you love me, because that's how they're going to learn how to love me. Only by your example will they learn how to love me." One of the greatest things we can do as examples is apologize.

5._ Extraordinary parents ask forgiveness frequently_. Which is to say extraordinary parents make mistakes. I've had a ton of practice at this one. This is the one I feel like I've learned the most of all of them. Ordinary parents don't make mistakes. They're too prideful to see their own wrongs. Matthew 5:23-26 says you leave your gift at the altar, you run, and you be reconciled. Ephesians 4: "Be diligent at preserving the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace."

Ephesians 6:4 says, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." First John 1:8 says, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." The most humble young adults I've seen learned humility by their parents modeling it and asking their forgiveness.

This is something that showed up consistently in those conversations as I talked with extraordinary parents and extraordinary kids. "What did you do?" "We asked their forgiveness regularly." Or, "My parents would constantly ask our forgiveness for things."

The day before yesterday, we were hanging out in the living room, and my 4-year-old was standing on a DVD. When I noticed it, I was like, "What are you doing?" and kind of pushed him off. "What are you doing? What are you doing?" I didn't think anything of it. I went on about my day. My wife, who's incredibly great at this, pulled me aside later and said, "Hey, I don't think that was your best." I was like, "What? When?"

"I don't think that was your best when you were talking to Weston earlier." I was like, "Oh, okay." I went to him on his level. "Hey, buddy. When I was upset that you were standing on that DVD, I didn't respond consistent with the Spirit. Will you forgive me?" He said, "Yeah, I forgive you, Daddy." We went on, and then he came to me later and pulled on my pant leg and said, "Daddy?" I said, "Yeah, buddy." "Will you forgive me for standing on that DVD?" I said, "Yeah, buddy. I will." They're going to learn it through what we do. We can't let our pride get in the way, as mine does often.

Asking forgiveness turns mistakes into memorable, teachable moments. So here's the question for us to consider…When is the last time you've asked for forgiveness? If a month has gone by, it's probably too long. This is something we can easily audit. "Am I regularly asking their forgiveness?" We don't want to let our authority get in the way of humility, but I do want to remind you that you are in authority.

6._ Extraordinary parents discipline consistently, calmly, and with care. Ordinary parents avoid the inconvenience of discipline, because it _is inconvenient. When you're at the grocery store or out in public, when you're in a hurry, it's an inconvenient thing to discipline. Ordinary parents count to three, which really teaches delayed obedience. "Hey, one, two…" When the bus is coming, you can't be like, "Get out of the road! One, two…"

You want to teach them, "Listen. This is what I'm asking you to do: to obey." Ordinary parents protect their kids from consequences. They shelter them from that teacher or whatever it is. Ordinary parents discipline out of anger. Ordinary parents use strength and volume to intimidate as a shortcut. They teach their kids to fear their parents, not the wrong they did. You saw that I do that.

The other day, Weston talked back to his mom. I was right there. She said, "Hey, I need you to do this." "But Mom!" I just went, "Hey!" His eyes welled up with tears. It's a shortcut. "Hey, I'm in charge." It's not God's spirit. It takes time to say, "Hey, buddy, come here. Sit down. Listen. You have to be disciplined now. You can't talk back to Mommy. You know that. You know the rules, right? Why are you here?" Talk through that. Walk through it unemotionally. It's so much easier to respond out of anger and tell them, "You'd better listen to me."

Proverbs 13:24 says, "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them." Hebrews 12 reminds us that God disciplines us. "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

Let me tell you something. This is the single most recognizable pattern of the extraordinary parents and extraordinary kids I've talked to. I believe I can stand in here Tuesday night and through conversations and people I know, with great accuracy, select those who have been disciplined in the home and those who haven't, those who had disciplinarian parents and those who didn't. It is the single most observable pattern I've seen.

When I would discipline my kids, what I used to say was, "I don't want to do this. God's Word says I have to," which really helps them love God. "God is making me do this. I don't want to do this." Then I realized I do want to do this. What I'm really saying is, "I'd prefer you not to have done what you did. I'd prefer you to listen and obey. I'd prefer you not to be disrespectful or disobedient, but in reality, when you are disrespectful and disobedient, I absolutely do want to discipline you, because I love you. I want to. It is what I believe is going to shape your character and shape who you are. I believe it's going to have a profound impact on your life."

I had a young adult tell me this week, "That was the one thing I hated the most and the one thing I'm most thankful for." She went back to her parents and kind of walked me through what that looked like in their home and said, "I am so thankful for the way Dad would do that consistently and then just come and tell me afterwards, every single time, he loved me, and I couldn't leave his room until I said it back." I thought, "That's great." She said, "Sometimes I was in there a long time."

Todd did a message called Parenting's Dirty Dozen, where he used an illustration that has ministered to me. I want to share it with you. He said it's just like a referee. Think about a referee in a game. That is an unemotional thing for him. If somebody jumps offside, he's not like, "What are you doing? Really? Again? You can't count to three? Hut, hut, hut!" He just goes up and clearly states, "Offense, offside, 15-yard penalty." I know nothing about sports, so I assume it's something like that.

He just says, "This is what they did. This is the predetermined consequence. It's unemotional for me." There's no warning. It's not like, "Hey, buddy, I saw you offside. I'm going to give you another chance on that one." It's, "Hey, you jumped offside. Here's the consequence that goes with it." He's not like, "What are you thinking? What's wrong with you?" He's just like, "Hey, this is what you did. This is what's going to happen." It's unemotional.

We're like referees. That's what we're doing. We sit down. "Hey, this is what you did. This is the predetermined consequence I've already communicated to you that when you do that, this is going to happen. So this is what's going to happen. If you want to do it again, this is what's going to happen. I'm going to continue to move you back 15 yards." That's not really what I do, just to let you know. I'm going with the sports analogy, the football thing. So discipline is important, but prayer is the most effective and easiest thing you can do for your kids.

7._ Extraordinary parents pray persistently._ Ordinary parents stay stressed, wondering where they can turn to for help. First Samuel 12:23 says, "…far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right." See also Hebrews 4:16, which says, "Where can I go when I need help? Where can I find it? God is right there. Jesus tore the veil. I can talk to the Creator, the one who formed me in my mother's womb."

Prayer is the real work of parenting. Over the past 11 years, I have had the privilege and opportunity to do some extraordinary weddings. I've sat there at those rehearsal dinners when the parents have stood up and looked at the soon-to-be spouse of their child and said, "I prayed for you every night. I prayed that he would find a God-fearing, godly woman whom God would protect and preserve. I just met you a year ago, but I prayed for you for the past 20 years."

What a gift to say that. I've seen that over and over and over. It takes the same amount of energy to worry as it does to pray. One is a faithless waste of time; one is powerful and effective. They take the same amount of time. So rather than worry about your children, turn those worries into prayers. I've been convinced of this from those parents I talked to who said, "Hey, we prayed for them every day."

So at night, we sit and pray for their spouses. We pray for their lives. We pray for their gifts. Sometimes I get home after The Porch and they're already in bed, so sometimes I'll walk up there and stand outside their room at their shut door and just beg God to woo their hearts as they sleep. "Win them, Lord. Mark out their lives for extraordinary purposes for you that you would do through them." God gave you these gifts of children, so when you need help understanding who they are, ask him.

8._ Extraordinary parents become students of their children._ Ordinary parents live vicariously through their children. They try to give them the life they wanted rather than the life God wants for them. Ordinary parents believe that one size fits all in parenting, but Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:22, "To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."

We study our kids. We understand the gifts God has given us. I want you to think about this in two simple categories. One is gifts and one is sin patterns. Think about the gifts the Lord has entrusted to you in those arrows. They may be different than your gifts. What are the sin patterns they're more tempted toward? They may be different than your sin patterns. Be students of them, and learn about them, and show them, "Hey, that's going to hurt you. Hey, this is how God made you. Hey, these are the gifts God has given you for him so you can make him famous."

In our home, we have an artist and an athlete. I'm an artist. I've proven I'm not an athlete. I'm an artist, so it's easy for me to sit down with her and pour into her. I need help with the athlete to help her unleash those gifts, but I want to invest a lot of time there, because I see that God has entrusted things to her that she can make him famous by.

In our home, we have an introvert. We have one who hides behind my legs. I'm trying to teach her, "Hey, look them in the eyes," and she's afraid and intimidated, but she has a huge gift for reading. She'll sit in the corner and read like crazy and study, and she's smart. Then I have a 4-year-old salesman who has never met a stranger. He'll walk up to anybody and just start talking to them. He probably has the gift of evangelism.

I'm trying to study them and understand the gifts God has entrusted to them, because that's what I've seen extraordinary parents around here do. I want to prepare them for the works God has for them. Ephesians 2:10: "For they are God's workmanship, God's creation, God's masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to walk in the good works he has prepared in advance for them to walk in." To be students of them requires a lot of time with them.

9._ Extraordinary parents understand that presence is the greatest present. Ordinary parents think a trip once a year to Disney World is enough. Ordinary parents seek to provide more than enough stuff, when the stuff they needed most was more of _them. Psalm 90:12 says, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." I've heard it said that rules without relationship equals rebellion.

What helps me in terms of this is to think about a scoreboard. The way you put points up on that scoreboard is by spending time with them. All things are created equal, so Disney World is a point. A bedtime story is a point. A date is a point. Tee-ball practice is a point. They're all equal. So how many points am I putting up there?

John McGee talked about envisioning this shot clock above their head that's ticking down. When I heard him say that, I began to realize… My oldest daughter is 10 years old. If she's leaving the house at 18, then I'm over halfway through the experiment. How have I done at preparing her for the world? That clock is ticking down. There are only a few years left. Time is limited.

Sooner or later, before we know it, we're going to hear the buzzer, and there are no more points to put up. There's no more time to invest. The score is settled. It's done. So what do we do at that point but today prepare them for that moment? As Todd has said through the years very well, kids spell love T-I-M-E. That has been a slow lesson for me to learn, but I've seen others, like some of you, where you just take your kids with you, which I think is awesome.

My friend Jeff Ward takes his sons with him everywhere he goes when he's doing ministry. He's not worried if they're bored. One of the greatest gifts you can teach your kids is how to be bored. I remember going with my dad, feeding the cows every Saturday, bored out of my mind. Today I miss being bored with my dad. I miss those times. They're going to as well. Right about now, you feel incredibly guilty, so this one is really important.

10._ Extraordinary parents know that only grace makes parents extraordinary._ It's an act of God. Extraordinary parents know that only grace makes children extraordinary. What I want you to know is that grace covers a multitude of parenting mistakes. Sometimes the extraordinary kids I talk to come from abusive homes, from broken homes, from crazy experiences, and God just flexes.

Sometimes their stories are, "I was suicidal. I was cutting myself. I was at the end of my rope, and now I'm a pastor and a missionary, and I'm walking with Jesus, and I love him." God changes hearts. He changes lives. He offers hope. Go back to that one about prayer, and just think about Israel, who had the best father anyone could have in God the Creator, but his children still rebelled.

Isaiah 1:2 says, "I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me." Even God who's a perfect Father… His children rebelled. I've heard it said we take too much credit when our kids turn out great and too much blame when they don't. The most spiritual, God-fearing man I know, the best dad I know, humanly speaking, has children who are leaders in their church, kids who walk humbly with Jesus, and a prodigal who has not come back.

He's waiting, and we're praying. They were all raised in the same home. There's a part of this that God is teaching us that we are just not in control. We can pray and be consistent and know that obedience is not determined by the outcome. It's not a parenting message; it's a disciple-making message. To parent passively is easy, but it is void of reward. To parent faithfully is costly. It takes time, discipline, resources, focus, and hard work.

It does not always produce success in the children, but it always displays the commitment to God in the disciple and reminds us that God is at work in spite of us. God, who gave his Son on our behalf to cover our parenting misses. So rely on grace. Teach grace. Display the gospel in your parenting. Do the best you can, sleep like a baby, and trust that those arrows the Lord has entrusted to you are his arrows.

This week, we got an email for the first time. You never want to get this email. It was from a teacher. It said, "Hey, we want to talk to you about one of your kids. We have some concerns. Can we meet with you as soon as possible?" I got the email, and I saw that my wife was on there, and I knew that was not going to go well, so I called immediately and luckily caught the teacher, who was on her planning period.

She was incredibly gracious and incredibly kind. It's a privilege to partner with those teachers in raising our kids. She said, "First, can we add Monica?" So this impromptu conference call happened. She said, "Two concerns. The first one is there's a roughness, like a tackling that's going on when they're playing soccer. Just rough." I'm like, "Oh man, that's on me. Every night before they go to bed it's wrestle time. It's WrestleMania in the house. That's Daddy's fault. That's on me."

She's like, "The second thing is there are kids from a lot of religions in the classroom, and she told one of the kids they were going to hell." I was like, "That's on her mama." No, I was like, "Oh, I think that's on me too." She walked us through the narrative. It was like, "Yeah, I'm your friend because I like you but also because I want to convert you." I said, "Oh man, we have to talk about those tactics."

There's no handbook for this. I'm like, "What do we do?" So what did I do? I reached out for help. I called friends around me. I talked with Todd and others and asked, "Hey, what did you guys do in these kinds of situations?" It was incredible. As I look at this list… First, I realized that being their dad is a privilege. We talked about boundaries and respecting the boundaries of others as we're playing on the playground, and we made the most of the teachable moment.

I knew they had learned from my example, so I acknowledged that. I asked for forgiveness for what I had done and said, "Hey, you're going to need to go and ask for forgiveness." We talked through the discipline that would happen if this continues and put discipline on the being rough part right there. We prayed. We talked about how they might have the gift of evangelism but their technique was off and their sin struggle may be judging others.

It took a lot of time. In fact, we called one of the families and said, "Hey, can we meet you?" and they were so kind and gracious to meet us for ice cream that night. The kids sat there at a table, and mine was able to ask for forgiveness for the words and say, "Hey, that's not reflective of the love my God calls me to." I called another family, and they couldn't meet for a number of reasons, but they were also very gracious and extended grace and forgiveness.

I still felt a little unsettled. I wanted to meet with them. I took my kids to a random diner in north Dallas this Saturday. We sat down, and lo and behold… I mean, two of the closest tables in the whole place. This other family comes and sits down right beside us. I'm talking a foot and six inches away from my shoulder was the dad I had never met. It was just God.

I was able to go up and take my kid with me and ask for forgiveness and talk through the God we love. What it was for me was God saying, "Hey, I've got you, bro. I'm still driving this thing. I'm still very much in control here." It was a gift. That's what I want to leave you with. God has got you. He's still in the driver's seat of this deal. Let me pray.

Father, thank you for the privilege it is to be a dad or a mom. Thank you for the high call of being a disciple and the call to make disciples. So would you do that? Would you multiply that in this place? I just thank you for the grace that covers a multitude of parenting mistakes. I pray for all of the children who are represented in this room.

I pray for the future generation that's rising up. I pray that faith would be multiplied and the gospel would be spread and the kingdom would be built out of this place. Father, protect my friends from guilt and condemnation. Help them to receive grace. Help them to extend it. Help them to do the best they can and to trust you. In the name of Jesus, amen.