Parents and Pastors—Please Read!!
I received this letter from a young lady last week—a Bible college student who grew up in a Christian home and Christian school. I believe it’s the saddest letter I’ve ever read and right on the mark for so detailing the experiences of so many young Christians. I asked her permission to post it. Please read. Her words will greatly challenge you as a parent or pastor:
Dear Pastor Schmidt,
A few years ago, I read your books Hook, Line, and Sinker, Discover Your Destiny, and Life Quest. I found them to be extremely encouraging and instructive. These books showed me that not only do you have a real heart for young people, but you also understand us well. I am writing to ask you to consider writing a book to our parents and youth workers. Let me explain.
I am a junior at a well-known Christian college. I grew up in highly respected “fundamental independent Baptist” churches, and went to excellent Christian schools. My father has been a Christian worker since before I was born. One would think that my testimony would go something like this:
“I was saved when I was about 5 and I had dedicated my life to God and I have been growing a lot and serving Him and now I’m studying to serve Him full time.” But that isn’t my story. Actually, though I did make a profession of faith when I was very young, I didn’t get saved until I was 17. Since I was 12 and now on into college I have struggled with “serious” issues. And I found out when I went to college that I am not the only “good kid” who is or has struggled with or is still struggling with serious stuff. We struggle with issues like eating disorders, depression and suicide, cutting, pornography, gender identity, homosexuality, drugs, drinking, immorality, and the list could go on. We listen to “wild” music, we idolize pop culture’s heroes, we watch dirty sitcoms. We have no discrimination in our entertainment, dress, or any aspect of our lifestyle. Obviously, I’m generalizing our problems—you would not find that every Christian young person from a conservative background struggles with all of these issues, and praise God, some of us do not struggle with any of these issues.
My point is that the problems that are supposed to be bad kid’s problems belong to us too. Unfortunately, our parents and youth workers don’t know that we struggle with these things and they don’t know what to do with us when they find out. Quite frankly, I believe that if you grabbed the average Christian school teacher or youth worker and asked them, “What would you do if you found out that one of the kids you work with was a homosexual?” they wouldn’t know what to say.
My point is not simply that they don’t know what we struggle with or how to deal with it. I think there is a pretty simple reason why “good” kids struggle with such serious stuff. And that there is a solution. At the risk of being blunt, I’m going to be blunt.
Our parents did not spend time teaching us to love God. Our parents put us in Sunday Schools since K4. Our parents took us to church every time the doors opened, and sent us to every youth activity. They made sure we went to good Christian colleges. They had us sing in the choir, help in the nursery, be ushers, go soulwinning. We did teen devotionals, and prayed over every meal. We did everything right. And they made sure that we did.
But they forgot about our hearts. They forgot that the Bible never commanded the church to teach children about God and His ways. That responsibility was laid at the feet of our fathers. Unfortunately, our fathers don’t have time for us. They put us where we are surrounded by the Bible. But they didn’t take time to show us that God was important enough to them to tell us personally about Him. So to us, Christianity has become a religion of externals. Do all the right stuff, and you’re a good Christian. So, some of us walk away from church. Some of us stay in church and fill a pew. Many of us struggle with stuff that our parents have no idea about because they hardly know us.
I think these problems stem from first, our detachment from our parents, and second from our misunderstandings about the essence of Christianity—a relationship, not a list of rules. I worry that many young people like me are not even saved because of their misunderstandings about Christianity.
I know that this has not been a well articulated treatise, but it comes from my heart. If you are able to help us and our families, we would be so grateful. I realize that probably, there is no way to fix the fact that kids my age are detached from our parents or to straighten out the crazy stuff that we struggle with. The alienation is fixed, the scars are permanent. I know our situation is not hopeless. God is at work in my life and my generation, among those of us who have struggled and are struggling. But maybe our younger siblings can have some help that we never had. Maybe you can write a book for our parents that will grab their attention and help them see that this is serious—that their kids need them, desperately.
I guess I’ve run out of things to say. I must say I’m a little hesitant to share my name with you because that attaches me with my parents, who are, by the way, good people. Thanks for everything you have already done to help Christian teens and their families. I’m eager to see what else God will do through you.
(Name Removed to Protect Anonymity)
All I could say when I read this letter was, “WOW! She nailed it!” This is the battle I’ve been fighting for 21 years. I’m planning to write a couple of follow up articles to this letter, but for now, let this insightful young lady’s words sink in, and let God help you evaluate your own parenting and influence.
Are we teaching kids to simply appear and act right? Or are we teaching them to LOVE God and KNOW Him personally?
What are your thoughts?
PS – My first response to this letter is posted here.