We all need mentor moms in our life! This episode with Rhonda is cram-packed with awesome-ness. If you are a mom, YOU NEED to hear the wisdom & perspective that Rhonda shares! Seriously, I could not have picked a better way to end Season One of the podcast than with this amazing episode.
Rhonda rocked my world in this conversation. She is the ultimate Titus 2 mentor mom. She not only brings perspective to motherhood, but shares practical advice that I know will help me in my parenting…especially my parenting of my boys. To top it all off, Rhonda is so inspiring with her knowledge and memorization of the Word. She was quoting Scripture all throughout. Man, I was convicted that I need to do a better job making memorization a bigger priority. Incredible.
You will laugh and cry in this episode (good tears). I hope you love this conversation with Rhonda as much as I did.
So, as I mentioned on the podcast and eluded to above, this is officially the end of Season One of the Simply Joyful Podcast! Please be sure to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss when we start back with Season Two! Also, make sure you have joined our Simply Joyful Community to get your free copy of my Sanity Savers for Moms book…and so you don’t miss any of the details about the BIG GIVEAWAY that we will be doing for Season Two!!
I’m so excited to announce that I have a special gift from each of Season One’s guests! Yep! I’m giving away books and courses! It’s going to be awesome! So, be sure to subscribe to my newsletters for more details soon…and subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss Episode #15! I start recording Season Two in another week.
In this episode, Rhonda and I chat about raising our children to be Godly adult—specifically raising our boys to be Godly men.
Rhonda has some amazing God-stories and I’m excited for you to listen—I know you will come away refreshed and renewed!
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“. . . give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
“And David said, ‘The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’” (1 Samuel 17:37)
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Psalm 119, & Psalm 139
Rhonda Stoppe is the No Regrets Woman. She is an author and speaker dedicated to helping women live life with no regrets. With more than 20 years’ experience as a mom, mentor, and pastor’s wife, Rhonda’s wisdom and experience helps women discover significance in God and His specific purpose for their lives, connect biblical principles to everyday decisions, develop a loving marriage that others dream about, and influence the next generation by raising children with integrity.
Thank you, Rend Collective for allowing me to use your incredible song “The Joy of the Lord is My Strength”!
(This podcast is by Kristi Clover. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)
This week’s tool of the week is Scott Schimmel, the Founder, President, and Chief Guide at The YouSchool. After spending over ten years in a non-profit helping college students become world changers, Scott is deeply aware of the challenges students face when stepping into the professional world. This is why he’s invested his time guiding young people. Outside of YouSchool, Scott is an avid reader, speaker, writer, and golf fiend—and his latest challenge is learning how to coach Little League baseball. His wife and three children keep him anchored. Connect with him on LinkedIn or email.
YouSchool has a variety of applications. For one, it is an educational life-planning program for high school students that helps unlock individual passion, drive, skills and preferences.
The YouSchool also works with Navy SEALs, military special forces units, athletes, coaches, executives, parents, etc. and is a guided coaching program that helps people in life’s transitions answer important questions:
What’s my purpose?
Where do I belong?
What great story could I tell with my life?
Who will journey with me?
Scott joined us this week and shared insights into what drives his passion for helping others discover their uniqueness’s, life purpose, vocation & sense of calling. As we spoke Scott shared multiple examples of where people find themselves getting “stuck” and tools YouSchool uses to help people get “Un-stuck”. Whether it be students deciding on college, career or relationships; or everyday people trying to discover a deeper sense of purpose in their work, vocation and family. Scott had fascinating insights in relationship dynamics and what can help us everyday folk be better listeners and guides for our friends, family and relational networks. Scott also shared some tools that we as influencers, mentors, coaches, parents and advisers can do to help the next generation find clarity in chasing their dreams and passions.
YouSchool also has an amazing blog that consistently publishes outstanding resources, articles, and tools. http://www.theyouschool.com/our-blog/
This episode is loaded with tools we hope equip you to build stronger relationships. Hope you enjoy!
This week’s “Tool of the Week” in the ‘shed is Jeff Galley!.
Jeff is a father of three children, husband of an amazing wife Kristi and the author of Conversations: Turn Your Everyday Discussions Into Life-Giving Moments.
Jeff is on the leadership team at Life.Church and is the Central Group Leader overseeing the equipping and leadership development for their life groups.
Jeff’s book, Turn Your Everyday Discussions Into Life-Giving Moments, is an equipping tool that anyone can use to build relationships, become a better listener, and form stronger teams. In this episode, we asked Jeff about his personal journey and what life changing moments brought him to the realization that every conversation counts!
Jeff tells the story of how “question asking skills” allowed him to navigate a challenging time with his teenage daughter. Jeff, like many parents wants to dive in and fix problems with his kids. But, he took his own advice and helped her discern life decisions by asking her intentional questions and gave her the space to reflect and respond without making the decision for her. As he writes in his book,
“The sweet spot for powerful change is right in the center of where our experiences converge with relevant tools and meaningful conversations.”
We also discussed some key questions:
This book encapsulates many of the motivations for producing this podcast. As Jeff writes,
“Good people developers also connect the people they’re helping with tools and resources.”
Some amazing tips and tools come out of our time with Jeff including these five principles of conversations:
This episode is loaded with tools we hope equip you to build deeper relationships. Hope you enjoy!
March 26th 2004 at about 6 o’clock in front of 500 of my closest friends, family, faceless strangers and God I made the easiest choice of my life and said “I do” to my girlfriend Katrina and with two little words I became a husband, I gained a wife, my family would be grafted into another family and everyday from that moment forward would be different than everyday I knew before.
I’m not going to lie – getting married is easy – thousands of people do it everyday.
But staying married… that’s a little harder. For every one of those thousands of marriages that happen everyday – there’s a married couple that is going to give up.
Can I be real with you? The problem with Marriage is we think that it’s about us. We think we are going to get married and we will feel complete. The problem with marriage isn’t marriage, it isn’t your spouse, the problem with marriage is us… you and me brother.
See most of us go into marriage looking for what we will get, what our spouses will give us, but we should be looking at marriage as the toughest thing we will ever choose to do, looking at marriage as the thing that we will give the most to.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)
Jesus didn’t love the church because he was going to get something from the church. Jesus loved the church to serve, to heal, to protect, and to give his all to the church. And you know what Jesus got in return for his love? He was cheated on, betrayed, beaten, lied to, murdered, and then betrayed again and again and again. And never once did Jesus quit, give up, bad mouth his bride or look for another option. Jesus loved his church with all He had not because what he got, but because it was what he was called to do, what he chose to do.
You know why I love my wife? Because I said I would. I promised to love her not just to her, or the crowd at our wedding, but to God as well. I said I would love her and I want to be a man that lives up to his promises.
I know what some of you are thinking, because I have sat across from plenty of guys going through a rough spot in their marriage AND I’ve gone through my own rough spots. You are thinking…
But marriage has gotten hard – Yep, but don’t act like hard things are bad.
But she doesn’t respect me – it’s not about how she treats you, but how you respond to her in all situations
But finances are tight – it’s not about the money its about obedience
But with the kids – hey those kids are watching you. Your sons are looking to see how a man does marriage and commitment and your daughters are looking at you as the model for what a husband looks like. Do you want your daughters marrying guys like you? Do you want your sons being husbands like you?
Don’t think I am being a jerk or heartless towards your situation. Trust me brother I am right there with you… in the past 13 years I have had my struggles, my moments of doubts, I’ve asked myself can I do this? My wife and I have yelled at each other, cried with each other, slept in separate rooms, sought advice, got council and prayed many, many times.
Has it been easy? No.
Has it been hard as Hell? Yes at times.
Has it been worth it? Most days.
But lets be real, I am a messed, up selfish, sarcastic, hard to deal with man. And I happened to marry a messed, up selfish, sarcastic, hard to deal with woman. So why would I expect anything besides a messed, up selfish, sarcastic, hard to deal with marriage?
But that’s why I say I have an Unorthodox Marriage.
To learn more about Mike’s Unorthodox life, check out unorthodoxman.com!
This is the eighth and final installment of our amazing interview with Matt Clinton of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Parents – you are more of a model for your kids than you’ll ever know! Matt gives some great practical advice on how to help them set boundaries by actually setting boundaries for yourself.
Matt Clinton, Fellowship of Christian Athletes: My daughter, who is only 18-months-old, can already work an iPhone. She already knows how to swipe through the pictures on her favorite app and scroll to what she wants to see. So, I’ve never been more aware of how much time I spend on my phone until I saw my own child just doing what I always do. I’m not saying that what I do on my phone is wrong – most of the time, I’m simply scrolling through the news or a book or something. But, when my son comes along and grabs my phone out of my hand because he wants to hang out with me, it’s a sign that my “news-scrolling” is taking up too much time.
Then, when you watch your own kids model your behavior back to you, it’s very revealing.
When they see dad working twelve hours a day, they think that is how normal parenting is done. When they see mom on social media all the time, they think that being on social media all the time is what older people do, and they set their own lives in that direction.
Now, I know that I’m stereotyping with both of these examples, but you can insert whatever behavior you want in there, and then think, “What message am I sending to my kids and do I want them to model this behavior?”
I’ve noticed this to the point where I’ll turn my ringer off at home and place it face down in a different room, and try to BE with my family. Of course, there are times when I’m practically getting the detox shakes by not having my phone on me, but it’s a lesson I’m willing to learn in order to teach it to my kids – we need to be with the people we are with.
Parents – here’s a fun game when you go out to dinner: Everyone puts their phones in the middle of the table and set them all to silently vibrate, so that every time a text comes in or someone gets a notification, the pile of phones buzzes. The first person to grab their phone because they can’t handle it anymore pays for the meal!
It’s a fun game and it absolutely freaks out high school kids! Notifications make them twitch. It makes you wonder: Are you ok with not knowing what is going on with everyone everywhere all the time?
I remember a time when I was in grad school. Class got out and a bunch of us were walking out together toward the parking lot. There was almost a couple dozen of us together, but we all instantly started checking our phones as we walked… all of us except one of my friends. Instead, he got all of our attention:
“Here we are surrounded by people and we want to talk to people who we are not surrounded by.”
Yeah… in one sentence he pretty much summed up our culture. And that’s the pressure teens are under all day, every day. They feel like they can’t miss a single post. If they take longer than a few minutes to respond to a text, they must be angry at the other person. Denying someone their instant gratification is a foreign thought to kids today.
Leslie Salazar Carrillo, Im Waiting: Gut check! Just now, when we first started this interview, my phone was buzzing and I had to check the incoming texts… even while you were speaking to me! I’m so sorry.
As we wrap up, how can people help you and the team at Fellowship of Christian Athletes?
Matt: Every ministry has too many needs. For starters, just check out what we do. Go to our website and click around. Learn about us. Pray for wisdom. We know that often our time is very short when we are on high school campuses, so we need to spend our time wisely.
Then, if you’re up for it, come and spend some time with us on campus. I promise, it’ll be an impactful 30 minutes. And, bring pizza! It’s amazing how teens will simply follow anyone with free pizza.
Kids will hear about Jesus… and with pizza, even more kids will come and hear!
You see, we’re no different than any other ministry out there. Going to high schoolers in their own environment is our lane and we love doing it.
We use the influence of coaches and athletes to share the Gospel. This can look differently on different days at different schools. It could be a Bible study, or an outreach event, or a partnership event like the ones we have with Pregnancy Resource Center. But, if you can make the time to come and see a lunch meeting, you’ll see the reality of where and how today’s kids live.
I’ve regularly seen high-powered adults who broker million-dollar deals on a weekly basis get the sweats when they step foot on a high school campus. Just walking the halls takes them right back to when they were 16, along with all the insecurities and anxieties they felt back then. It’s a great moment when you realize what your teens face every day.
Leslie: Not everybody is called to work with kids. In fact, most of us who do are simply crazy. Because teenagers are brutally honest. But we are called to prayer.
So, pray for those of us who are working to reach the next generation with God’s word.
We’ve heard so many heart-wrenching stories, and there are days where we wonder if we can continue on any more.
But, the truth is that we love these kids with a love that surpasses all understanding.
We want a revival to start here in America, and I think that today’s teens will be the ones to obediently bring it on. It may not look like what we expect because the times change. But, while times change, people don’t.
We need to encourage our kids to be faithful, brave and strong and walk hard after the Lord. They are the 1 Peter 2:9 generation:
…you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Matt: I’m reminded every day that I pray a certain way and I expect certain things. That’s just how so many of us are wired. But, I also pray that God will show up in ways that I don’t expect.
2,000 years ago, so many people missed Jesus because He didn’t match their expectations. I don’t want to miss being a part of this generation and the revival that may come because of my own expectations.
One small example is when God shows me time after time a kid who I wouldn’t naturally pick as a great leader, yet they go on to make a huge impact for God’s kingdom on their campus. Each time I see this, God humbles me again, reminding me that it’s not my plan, but His at work.
We simply need to stand alongside today’s teens and encourage them.
Leslie: Leave a legacy of how you disciple and impact kids. Walk with them, cry with them, and then dust them off and send them off again.
Working with kids costs a lot. It does come at a certain sacrifice, whether it be in your income, your family, or your social life.
So, count the cost. And know that, if you are obediently serving God, the devil knows that if he can’t get to you then he’ll go after your family.
Pray for Matt, his family and the guys at FCA because they are doing a mighty work for God!
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this interview with Matt Clinton. We are always blessed when we hear about what he is doing with the next generation through Fellowship of Christian Athletes. His wisdom and compassion pour through his words. If you’d like more information about what Matt and the team at FCA are doing, simply check out SanDiegoFCA.org.
Matt Clinton of Fellowship of Christian Athletes desires to partner with parents in pouring into their kids to help them navigate through their teenage years.
Leslie Salazar Carrillo, Im Waiting: The socio-economic spectrum that you work within is very broad. You deal with very wealthy families as well as impoverished. So, what would you say to parents, regardless of where they live or their socio-economic status, as all their kids are asking, “How am I supposed to live this life?”
Matt Clinton, Fellowship of Christian Athletes: I look at my own conversations with my own kids at home. Now, my son is only five-years-old, so we’re not up to the heavy hitting topics yet. But, still, it’s critical that I build in time into my days to be available for him.
Now, I know that being available to our children isn’t breaking news. I also know that eventually, they’ll hit a stage where they think that it’s not cool to hang out with their parents. But, we need to be available.
It’s also important to find people who really, genuinely care about your kid. Especially people who are outside of your family. That’s often where “life change happens”.
As a guy who is one of those “outside the family” people, most of the time, all I’m doing is parroting exactly what the parents are saying.
But, since it’s not mom or dad saying these things, it seems to make a huge difference.
Couple with the innate problems and pressures that teens face, I think that in today’s culture, there are so many distractions, options and influences out there that their heads just spin!
I mean, as just one example, it seems like many kids today are more concerned about who is following them on Instagram or how many retweets they receive than anything else.
So, one large part of the battle is to try to figure out what our kids’ priorities are.
But, across the board, kids want attention and they will seek it out and get it somewhere. This begs the question of “What kind of attention can we give them and how intentional can we be?”
Now, I’ve spent most of my adult life helping to raise other people’s kids. And I’m very passionate about that. But, ultimately, if I’m so wrapped up in other people’s kids that when I come home I have nothing to offer my own children, then I’m useless.
So, I’m learning on my own, too, that we need to be intentional, even when and especially when it’s not easy. The hard truth is that kids just want time and attention.
Leslie: We’ve found that kids often say things like, “I just wish my parents would understand…” or, “I wish my parents would only…”
Have you witnessed this, too?
Matt: Oh yeah, that’s extremely common.
I mean, I live in a world of teenagers, and I can’t understand all of them all the time or the pressure they’re under. And, there is a small number of parents out there who really understand their teens, and they know them far better than I ever could.
But, more than trying to understand every single “why do they do that” or “what are they thinking”, I think parents would be well-served to try to understand the pressure that their kids are under.
If nothing else, find the time to walk on a high school campus. You will be stunned at what teens talk about, what they do and what you would see. I mean, supposedly there are dress codes and zero tolerance rules, but you might be appalled to hear and see the things that even “good kids” wear, say and do when they think adults are not watching.
So, I encourage adults (parents, speakers, donors… almost anyone) to come with me to an FCA meeting and be encouraged by the dedication and growth of the Christian leaders who we work with. But, I also tell them to pay careful attention to the three minute walk through the halls.
THAT’S where we learn what it is that our kids are dealing with each day. Even the kids who are the best kids of all time and are following Jesus with all their heart, soul, and mind… this is still what they are up against each and every day.
There is a relentless pressure in all aspects of our kids’ worlds today, and I just don’t think that parents understand. Each kid is faced with well over 100 tough decisions each day.
Leslie: Amen! I tell parents to remember back to when they were in high school and reflect on the unique pressures you faced. Pressures at school, pressures at home, pressures in the classroom and on the ball field, pressures to fit in, pressures to find your own identity… everything that you faced while just trying to get through your day.
Now, those pressures are common to nearly every generation of teenagers. But, you need to realize that today’s teens are the first post-9/11 generation. They’ve never known a time when we weren’t under the treat of terrorism. They’ve never known an era when schools weren’t shot up. They’ve never lived in an era when people of all ages aren’t told that their identity is based on their sexuality…
THAT’S the unique pressure THEY live in today.
Yet, like all teens, the frontal lobe of their brains, which governs problem solving, judgment, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior, is not fully developed. So, they are physically unable to handle all these incredible pressures. And, this is not the some high school experience that any parents out there grew up with.
For one, the boundaries that were understood across the board simply do not exist anymore. Even the guys and girls who are trying to be good are being bombarded by naked photos of their classmates being sent to them via text, Snapchat, or by other means. In fact, for many kids today, sexting is simply a part of dating. As a cultural group, they’ve convinced themselves that it’s safe since they’re not actually having intercourse. They figure since they can’t get pregnant or catch and STD, and they hope that no one will ever know about it, then it’s safe. But, the truth is that it’s not. And yet they still engage in it.
Matt: Yeah… I get it, but I really don’t get it. I mean, I understand their faulty logic, but I just don’t understand why they would engage in sexting and all these other things when they know the real risks.
And, I know that there are a lot of kids out there who, in their heart, don’t want to do these things. But they feel the pressure that if they don’t, they’ll be left behind and won’t be accepted.
Our kids are presented with this every day. And, there are new tools so they can go incognito made and released every day.
They – the developers and today’s teens – are always are one step ahead of us.
Leslie: Typically, as soon as kids realize that their parents have some messaging or photosharing technology figured out, they move on… if not way before their parents have a clue. Kids don’t use Facebook. If they do, it’s just as a front to make it look like they’re behaving.
Who has the kind of time that it takes to keep up with Snapchat, or Whisper, or WhatsApp, or whatever is next?
Matt: Well, today’s teens make the time. They make it a priority. Look, We all have 168 hours per week. But we each choose differently how to spend those 168 hours.
I ask kids to chart their time in any given week. We constantly discover that they spend a lot in pursuit of acceptance and identity. It’s an ongoing battle. It may or may not be a winnable battle, but its one that we need to be aware of. Social media cannot be an idol or cause anxiety.
Leslie: Kids need to realize that 95% of real life is NOT on social media. Therefore, your value isn’t coming from your likes, but because you were created to have value! Even with all your imperfections – and we all have them – you are still valuable! You have value because you were created in God’s image… and that has more value than any of us could ever imagine.
Parents play such an important role in how their kids understand their own value. Tune in next week to learn how YOU can partner with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Matt Clinton.
Matt Clinton of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a great teacher. He effectively shows kids in practical ways how society is taking God’s original plans SO out of context. This week, we continue our ongoing conversation with Matt regarding today’s teens, the pressures they are up against, and the hard truths about sex in our society.
Matt Clinton, Fellowship of Christian Athletes: Ultimately, we’ve taken something created for so much good and made it all about us. The hard truth is that by making sex so casual, it also makes us selfish. Sex becomes based on solely the physical outcome and your pleasure.
Yet, God’s plan is so far different than that.
Yes, sex is amazing… but it is so much more than the physical, when it’s approached within God’s plans for it. But, this is so difficult to communicate to someone who isn’t married – like the kids we work with every day. So, one nice thing is that the stats back this up. Therefore, we could even take the “God card” out of our discussion and simply talk about what marital intimacy is like, and the difference between sex within marriage and hooking up. Luckily – or unluckily, depending on your perspective – this is a daily discussion we have. And, unlike most adults, we are willing to have it with the high schoolers we meet.
Not everyone wants to talk about it, but we are willing, able, and eager to bring it into the light.
Leslie Salazar Carrillo, Im Waiting: Teenage guys have it tough. I get that, stereotypically, men are made to see the mountain and take the mountain… it’s what makes you great soldiers. But that doesn’t mean that doing the right thing is sacrificed. Many of the guys we meet want to be good guys – even those who have not chosen to follow Jesus still want to be good people.
But nobody has ever shown them how.
So many of these guys are growing up without a healthy male role model. Nobody is showing them how to behave rightly and make right decisions.
Sure, their mom may be working two or three jobs, just trying to hold things together. But, what is really needed is a man teaching these boys how to be good, responsible young men.
Matt: And even when there are good people setting examples for kids, there is a real difference between good people and people who are teaching kids how to lead.
Anyone who has played organized sports can look back and say, “Oh yeah… that coach was AWEFUL! But, THAT coach was AWESOME!!” So, what’s the difference? Some of it may be tactical, but most of the time, it boils down to how you are treated. These tend to be the building blocks of leadership and of teaching leadership.
Personally, I’ve had a ton of positive influences in my life – many of whom follow Jesus with all their heart, soul and mind – but I wish they would have pushed me more. Sometimes it takes a little kick in the butt to get guys moving in the right direction.
So, today, I meet one kid after another that are a lot like I was… they need to be led and pushed. And not just so that they could lead others, but for their own benefit. They’ve heard God’s truth, but they aren’t really listening. They aren’t applying God’s Word in their lives.
This makes me so thankful to God that I get to be a part of these kids’ lives for this short time. But then I start to wonder… how many more are just like these guys?
I mean, I know that I’m nobody special… I’ve just been given an opportunity to step in. But, I’m only stepping into the lives a few kids, when there are thousands just in my area alone!
So, if we can get coaches on board, or small group volunteers, or teachers to have these conversations with the kids… then we could make an even larger impact!
But, the truth is that we are so small in number. Jesus was so accurate when He said:
“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
We need to provide opportunities for them – opportunities to learn, to grow, and to face their issues alongside someone instead of on their own.
Leslie: A mutual friend of ours, Rick Garza, has an amazing life story. He shows kids God’s truth every time he speaks to them… and the kids are just drawn to him. Especially the ones who tend to wake up each morning without hope. So many of these kids in particular are yearning for truth! They want to see how their lives can be different than the examples that they’ve seen from generation to generation.
Matt needed good examples while he was growing up. So, today, he is standing in that gap as a leader to the teens he works with. He is realizing just how big the mission is, but how few workers there really are.
Be sure to tune in next time, as we hear about how parents can be influential, too.
This week, we continue our conversation with Matt Clinton of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. FCA is so much more than once-a-week meetings for Christian high schoolers. Matt uses his own past experiences to show teens that God isn’t looking for technical purity. God wants a heart sold out to Him!
Leslie Salazar Carrillo, Im Waiting: At Im Waiting, we’re hearing about “technical virginity” these days. The Center for Disease Control recently stated that on average, 68% of teens are not engaging in sexual intercourse. Which is great. However, statistics show that oral sex is still at 50%. Now, many Christian parents say, “Oh… but that doesn’t include our kids. That’s reflective of those other kids out there.” But, the truth is that within the Christian community, the statistics are the same.
Because Christian teens are taught that they should hold their virginity dearly… and they do, but they are striving for “technical virginity”. I hear a lot of teens saying things like, “Well, we’re only having oral sex, and the Bible tells us not to have sex, and oral sex isn’t really sex, so I think God is okay with it.”
So, what I am constantly repeating these days is, “God is not looking for technicalities. God is looking for purity of heart.”
Matt Clinton, Fellowship of Christian Athletes: I think that all of us are really good at justifying what we want. I heard a pastor say once, “If you’re asking ‘where is the line’, you’re asking the wrong question.”
And I can relate. I’m a very typical man and I’m not proud of how I always led my wife before we were married. We didn’t have intercourse, but I know that I didn’t do a good job at leading her and instead, I led us into situations that were really not very honoring to her. Now, we’ve been forgiven and redeemed, thank God… but, as young people, we ticked all the boxes for a young Christian dating couple – we volunteered at church, we both knew Jesus Christ… but the struggle is real!
So, what I have learned is that too often, we assume when we hear good Christian kids saying the right things and looking the part, that they are being completely transparent. The truth is that for Christian couples today, dating is tough. It’s tough for them, and it’s tough for us as mentors.
But, what I like about Im Waiting and the things that you do is how you emphasize that sex is about so much more than the physical. You don’t hesitate to talk about the emotional aspects of sex and the attachment that occurs.
One of the lies that I believed when I was a teenager was that pornography only affected me. Boy, was I wrong. Not only was I wrong in engaging with porn, but I was wrong in all my selfish assumptions about it.
So, today, I get to tell the guys I mentor, “When you use porn and fantasize about those women, you take those images and expectations with you into your marriage.” I get to tell guys what porn does to their minds, and their unrealistic assumptions of what sex with their wife will be like.
On the other hand, I tell them, “Hey, I appreciate that you’re not sexually active, but I promise you that if you are engaging with porn, it has its own lasting results that you will have to deal with eventually. Believe it or not, you are giving your heart and your mind away, even to these two-dimensional images. Sure, you’re avoiding the risks of pregnancy and STD’s, but there is so much more to sex than that!”
And I had no clue when I was younger. I had no idea what the process was going to be like to work through all that now that I’m married.
Leslie: You know, I hear a lot of people having a hard time understanding what you and I do when we talk to students. It’s not like we’re trying to suck the fun out of people’s lives. Whatever decisions they make is completely up to them and we don’t stand in judgment at all. We’re simply educating them with science.
The hard truth is that for ever action, there are consequences – some are much more life-giving than others.
And, speaking of science, I love when science backs up what we’ve been trying to say for so long. For example, it was recently announced that a boy’s average age is 7½ when he is introduced to porn. Typically, it’s unintentional. But, it’s something that parents today need to be aware of and be ready to have appropriate conversations about.
Because another hard truth is that pornography is not a victimless industry.
I know people who have come out of the sex industry, who worked as prostitutes, and they are fully aware of how much energy is put on stopping human trafficking in regards to prostitutes on the street. But the truth is that many prostitutes start out by doing porn. Far too many girls are trafficked in, put in front of a camera in a “safe” environment, and before too long, they are out on the streets.
Porn leads to sex trafficking. It’s NOT victimless. And if you engage with it on your computer or phone, you are also engaging with the trafficking that goes along with it.
Another question (one very related to all this) we often get is, “Is masturbation okay?”
You see, when you masturbate – especially while engaging with porn – you’re bonding with a mental image. And that bond does not go away. This image that you are bonded with does not have emotions, expectations, joys, sorrows, or needs of its own. Therefore, It’s all about you. All this cements in your brain the definition of sex as being self-centered and narcissistic.
Matt: That’s science. You’re educating properly. And that blows my mind!
I know a guy who has struggled with porn for several years. Meanwhile, he has had opportunities to date girls, but after learning that they had sexual histories, he was struggling with how to deal with their past sex lives. I had to tell him, “Dude, I hate to break it to you, but your past isn’t altogether much different. Scientifically, the mental, chemical and relational connections you’ve made with the porn models you fantasize about aren’t much different than someone who has actually, physically had sex with another person.”
Of course, there are differences, but there are also a whole slew of measurable similarities. This is part of the struggle that simply goes unnoticed and undiscussed… until they end up in marriage counseling.
Leslie: And the truth is that overall, guys are created to be visual; while women were created to be more emotional. That’s part of the problem with porn – guys are visually drawn to it, but then their ability to connect emotionally with their wives is handicapped, since they’ve never had to emotionally deal with the girls on the computer.
Although, porn is rising among females.
Matt: Right… at surprising rates. Largely because it’s so accessible. And, I don’t know how to combat that. Even my five-year-old is just a couple clicks away from porn. Not even intentionally – just clicking from one cartoon to Googling another to BAM… there it is! It’s a daily fight, but it can be won.
Leslie: I love that science proves us right. If nothing else, it makes us sound “less crazy”. The facts are there:
Porn re-wires the brain. For instance, when a man views porn, the same part of the brain is activated as when he uses a hammer, wrench, or some other tool. Therefore, the mental re-wiring that happens associates women with something that is meant to be used for a particular purpose, and that’s it.
Then, even when the guys are married, it’s difficult for guys to re-wire their brains to the way God intended and recognize their wife’s needs.
This is just part of Matt and my discussion regarding how science offers definitive answers regarding the destruction that pornography causes – especially in teens. Matt is so good at addressing these tough issues with high schoolers, and we will continue discussing these tough topics and more next week!
This week, we continue our conversation with Matt Clinton of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. FCA is so much more than once-a-week meetings for Christian high schoolers. Matt is encouraging peer-to-peer mentorship and seeing amazing results.
Matt Clinton, Fellowship of Christian Athletes: The victory in what we do are the life change stories. For whatever reason, God has allowed us to be a part of these incredible people’s stories. It’s obvious we’re not the ones doing it – it’s all God’s work – but we get to be a part of it.
I think that a lot of the kids used to feel like they walk around with a giant bullseye on their back because they claim to follow Jesus. Therefore, there are a whole lot of people just sitting there, watching and waiting for them to do something wrong. Then, they could just fire right into that bullseye and say, “See! You’re just like us!”
And, these amazing Christian students are learning, “Yep. I am just like you. BUT, here’s why I’m different…”
And they’re learning how to share how the hope, security, and identity that they have in Jesus sets them apart.
For me… when I was in high school, I would have been totally defeated by that, and I wouldn’t have known how to share the truth about Jesus Christ. But these kids are bold and unashamed. They are unabashedly living out Romans 1:16,
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.
They are just going for it! And, it’s fun to be a part of it. In them, I see a boldness that I wish that I had when I was younger.
Leslie Salazar Carrillo, Im Waiting: But you have it now. And what you have, you are pouring into them.
Now, where we are as a nation today, we can draw a safe little circle around ourselves, or we can start a revival. And, to start a revival, all we need to do is connect with one kid and it will spread. It’s not a numbers game. It’s simply being obedient to what God has called us to do, and invest our time and energy in the kid or kids that God brings to us.
Of course, it’s easy to look at my regretful decisions and be paralyzed by them… or I can move forward and be obedient today. And that’s what these kids need to hear, too!
Sure, they may have made mistakes – even as recent as this morning. They may have been a huge partier, or drug dealer, or maybe they have slept around. But that’s not who they are identified as in God’s eyes.
That guilt and shame will chew us up and spit us out every time.
Matt: You know, there’s an aspect of guilt and shame culture in my family that I wasn’t even aware of. So, as I’ve grown older and now that I’ve become a parent, myself, a lot of things have come up that I didn’t even know were in there.
So, with this newfound wisdom, I’m able to see more clearly just how littered these teenagers are with that same type of guilt and shame baggage.
So, the question I ask them is, “How can we get past this stuff? Because there’s nowhere that you’ll find this in the Bible. Jesus didn’t guilt or shame anyone.”
Leslie: How people see you does not define you. That’s something that kids deal with every day. It’s so important to let kids know that whatever decisions they made last year do not need to define who they are today. I tell kids all the time, “You can reinvent yourself… and you inevitably will!”
Matt: I see that, in particular, with a lot of the guys who I have walked alongside and have since graduated high school and have moved on to adulthood. So, now, I’m talking about marriage with some of these guys. Now, these are guys who know the right answers – they know what the Bible says about how we ought to live.
Probably the biggest obstacle they face is the big question, “Why wait for sex?”
To get to talk through “why” with young men who are really trying o follow Jesus is fun!
It’s so much better than what I was told, which was… “Just DON’T. You can have sex when you’re married. Until then… JUST DON’T.”
But, with these guys, as well as the high schoolers who we mentor, I’m seeing a group of people who get the “why’s” of God’s plans for our lives. They understand more and more that life isn’t just a bunch of do’s and don’ts, but that life has a purpose and to fulfill that purpose, there are healthy boundaries and blessings within those boundaries.
And, I think that as these kids continue to grow in their understanding and in their boldness, we will see a real change in our culture!
One example is that so many homes that we work with are “mom-driven” households. When moms lead the family, it’s not necessarily a terrible thing, but it’s not God’s plan – God wants men to lead.
So, for the guys that I’m mentoring, I’m able to tell them, “This is coming. Whether you think you’ve signed up for this or not, it’s coming down the line, right at you. God is calling you to be leaders… so what does that look like? And, what does it look like as teenagers to prepare for this calling?
And, we’re actually seeing tons of victories in this very area: guys ready to lead.
In our current series of podcasts, Matt Clinton of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and I have been discussing the various struggles that teens face today, especially regarding their identity – who they are and where they fit in.
This week, though, we also talk about the unique victories that the students Matt meets with are having that too often go unnoticed.
Leslie: Throughout our whole lives, our identity is challenged. Even as adults, you and I can sit here and wonder where exactly do we fit in this great big world.
Once upon a time, I was an athlete. In fact, I’m nursing an old softball injury, and having to realize that I may never be able to play softball again. Now, I’ve been playing softball for nearly my entire life, so to look in the mirror and say, “Wow… I’m not a softball player anymore.” That’s a tough thing because we do tend to identify with those types of things… even as “grown ups”.
And, when it comes to identity, it’s getting harder and harder to nail down who we are and who we are supposed to be.
Even when it comes to the very basics, like gender. Princeton University wants to get rid of all gender specific vocabulary throughout the school’s policies and curriculum. And that’s an obstacle that I have to work around, too, as I speak at public schools. I can’t make any assumptions regarding the students’ gender identities or school policies. So, I also have to speak “gender neutral”.
And, quite honestly, I’m great with this. I love all kids exactly where they are at. And I don’t want to alienate any of them.
My point is that all of this compiles on top of the age-old questions that kids ask:
“Who am I? Why am I here? How do I fit in? What is my identity?”
So, all this makes me wonder, what are the greatest victories that kids are having these days?
Matt: It’s interesting these days because I feel like, as a follower of Jesus, we are constantly backed into a corner within today’s culture. There are some people who just lay down and take it, figuring they have found salvation and now they’ll just punch their ticket while they kill time here on earth. But, there are others who are willing to come out fighting out of the corner.
It’s so odd to me that being a Christian has become a counter-cultural phenomenon. But, what I find exciting is that there are some kids, coaches and teachers who are all about that! They are okay with not being in the majority because they know that their identity comes from being accepted by God, not by the people around them.
So, I think that while culturally we may be getting beat back by a variety of different forces from more angles than ever, the nucleus of the kids who are still standing strong for Jesus is as strong as it’s ever been.
And what’s really awesome is that these kids are taking the time to understand who Jesus is, rather than just repeating a mantra that someone at youth group may have told them. A large reason for this is that more and more youth groups are spending more time on apologetics, equipping kids to not only learn about what the Bible says, but apply it to their lives with conversational aspects of Christian reasoning.
Back in the day, the old message for Christian teens was simply: Don’t do drugs, don’t drink alcohol, and don’t have sex before you’re married!
This approach doesn’t work.
It was the equivalent of sticking a giant red button in front of them and telling them, “Just don’t touch this! And that was it. “Don’t push the red button” was how they described faith. That just didn’t work… even for the “best” of kids.
Today, I’m seeing kids taking the time to learn how to simply be an awesome, normal person… while loving Jesus and having conversations about Him and what He wants for us.
That’s a huge victory for today’s teens.
Not too long ago, the Christian on campus may have been viewed as the nerdy kid… the guy who was different than everyone else and didn’t have much to do with anyone else. Today, though, the school’s ASB President, Varsity Quarterback or Point Guard – the people running things among today’s high schoolers – are following and proclaiming Jesus! And, by their nature, these kids aren’t just following along with what we are talking about, but they are leading.
And best of all, these leaders are doing the groundwork in making disciples of Jesus!
Leslie: I was in Youth Ministry for years, and I quoted 1 Peter 2:8-9 all the time:
They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
I’ve learned that when kids learn and own the fact that they are a chosen generation – part of a royal priesthood – then they joyfully find so much more victory than they could ever imagine!
Something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is that we need to be Jesus “in the practical”. We need to take an honest look at ourselves as sinners with real struggles. But, we also need to realize that we have an Almighty God to turn to in the midst of those struggles.
We need to show people that we chose different things because of Jesus, not just out of scare tactics, but because of how Jesus cares for us and wants us to avoid real consequences.
We need to love people like Jesus loved – with dignity, respect and honor for other people.
Matt: Working on high school campuses with FCA, I quickly realized that some of these schools have 3,000 kids on campus. So, one at a time, I’ve gotten to know as many kids as I can. I get to know their stories – what they’re going through, their family dynamics, and so on. But then I quickly am hit with the reality that this kid is just one of
3,000 on their campus. Yet that doesn’t intimidated them at all in standing firm for Jesus. And that encourages me!
Pastor Able Mendez at Calvary Chapel Oceanside puts it this way: “It’s a crazy world and Jesus has put YOU here. That says a lot about what He thinks of you. God knew that all this was coming. He’s not surprised. He’s on the throne.”
So, how will we react?
When I was a teenager, I was equipped, but didn’t step up.
So now, in a lot of ways, I walk around the high schools and I look for “me”. I seek out the kids who might be able to be an influence on their campus, teach them about Jesus, and who they are in God’s eyes. Then I tell them to go out an look for the other kids who are just like that and share God’s word with them.
“Go find me!”
Tune in next week when we will hear how Matt is not only equipping today’s teenagers, but also giving them the courage to boldly step out of their comfort zones and follow Jesus!