Herman Ostry had a problem. This Nebraska farmer had a very large barn that was situated in a low spot on his property. Every time they got a hard rain, the creek would rise and his barn would be flooded by a couple feet of water. He wanted to move his barn onto a new foundation that was on higher ground, about 150 feet away. The problem was that his barn weighed more than 17,000 pounds.
So he and his son took a bunch of steel tubing, welded it together, and bolted it onto the outside of his barn. Then, they got 344 of their friends together, and everyone was given a place to stand and a handle to lift. After one practice lift, these 344 people carried that barn 150 feet and set it on a new foundation. It took all of three minutes.
There are some things in life that should never be attempted alone.
My wife and I are near the end of our parenting journey… our oldest daughter is now 20 and entering her sophomore year of college. Our youngest daughter will turn 17 next month. Looking back, I believe that our kids would not be who they are today without the many people who stood alongside us and helped us shoulder the load of raising our kids.
If someone were to ask me to look back and name the one thing that made the greatest difference in our parenting, I would say that it was our realization that we couldn’t do it alone. Even though I am spiritual leader, I knew that my kids needed more than just the training and influence of their mom and dad. For that reason, we have always tried to partner with other like-minded people in the process of parenting. Here’s what that means in very practical terms:
Create a network of like-minded parents and do life together.
Find four or five other parents who share your faith and values, and who also have kids who are about the same ages as your kids. Then, begin spending time together as a group and raise your kids together. As we spent time with other families who shared our values, relationships were built naturally that endure to this day. Some of my kids’ closest friends were found within this group. Some of their most respected adult role models are within this circle of friends.
Become the subtle architect your of kids’ relational world.
As parents, we have to be very intentional about helping our kids find the right relationships. This is way too important to just leave to chance. Talk to your kids and help them think through what to look for in a friend. Get to know their friends (and the parents of their friends). At times, you just have to make it difficult for your kids to get certain places and be with certain people. On the flip-side: find subtle ways to encourage the right relationships and go out of your way to include certain friends that are a positive influence.
Prioritize consistent involvement in the life of a healthy church.
The key word in that sentence is “consistent.” Let me just take a few minutes to brag on our family ministries here. I know that my kids would not be where they are today if not for the staff and crew members who serve in our kids and student ministries. There were so many times when my kids would come home and tell me something they heard from their small group leader that really connected with them. Most of the time, it was something they had already heard from me; they just needed to hear it from someone besides a parent. Along with those relationships with their small group leaders, my kids were also deeply impacted by their experiences of serving in the church and seeing God use them to make a difference in his kingdom.
Parenting well is challenging in today’s world. In my opinion, parenting well is impossible if you try to go it alone.
Written by Mark Stuenzi; Lead Pastor of Parker Hill Church.