Kendra’s parents are waiting for longtime youth pastor Ralph Paige in his office—when he walks in the door, his church admin gives Ralph that “buckle up” look… It’s not going to be an easy conversation.
Ralph welcomes “drop-in” conversations, but when most parents have a concern to bring up, they catch him in the hallway or call for an appointment. Not Marty and Karen, Kendra’s parents. She’s a freshman who shows little interest in Jesus but a whole lot of interest in boys. And Ralph is okay with that—his motto is: “Any way that you can get them, God can change them.” Ralph sits down across from Marty and Karen, reminding himself of the “four priorities” he follows when he’s responding to parents’ concerns…
Ralph knows most parents just want someone to listen to them. He’s learned that if he talks less the parents will reveal more of what the real issue is.
2. Give advice, not counseling.
If an issue requires more than three visits to work out, Ralph refers parents to a trained counselor. It’s wisdom to know when you need trained help, and when the problem is bigger than you can fix.
3. Bring the entire family together if warranted.
When parents feel helped by his input, they walk out of his office with energy and zeal. But sometimes they struggle to “pass on” what they’ve learned to their kids, so it may be necessary to get everyone on the same page in a “whole family” meeting.
Before he engaged Marty and Karen, Ralph stopped outside in the hallway to pray. There is a kind of counseling preparation that only the Spirit of Jesus can give, and he wants to make sure he reconnects with his “power source” before he dives into the conversation.
As Marty and Karen head out after the meeting, they ask the question all honest, needy parents throw out: “Will Kendra be okay?” He reminds them that Jesus loves her more than they do, and to communicate hope, not doubt, when they interact with her.