by Roger D. Farr
Recently the Farr family had a month of transition time. We had several of the young people serving in our office head home to their families, and we sent our own three young adults out again to accomplish the tasks set before them. I would like to address the process of sending a young person successfully out from the home on a specific mission. In our case we have our three children at university, pursuing various degrees as a part of fulfilling their life-purpose plans. Others may be looking at sending their sons or daughters out for one week or longer to gain experience or to be under the influence of other godly people. As I speak at various home school book fairs, parents often ask questions about how to do this task successfully.
First, the sending-out process starts with a purpose or a goal. When a military unit is sent out, they have a clear mission and desired end goal. My wife Sue and I want our young adults to know why they are being sent and what success looks like at the end. As a case in point, several years ago we sent out Peter, our oldest, for two weeks to learn how to fly an airplane. He knew what he was to do, namely, to learn to the best of his ability how to fly airplanes. What would success look like? Peter would be physically, emotionally, and mentally able to do the task, but more importantly we, his parents, would see a spark in his eye and “fire in the belly” (passion) for the role of being a missionary pilot. Peter was able to fly the plane, but he did not have the passion, so he is pursuing architecture instead. Mission accomplished! (How we got to architecture is another story. Peter still enjoys flying with me.)
Next, there must be accountability and checkpoints along the way. The sooner parents know that our children are off-course or not making proper progress, the sooner we can intervene. To properly intervene, we must correctly apply 1 Thessalonians 5:14 to “… admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.” (NASB) If our child is being lazy, we admonish him with strong words and consequences, if called for. If one is afraid of failing or unsure that he can do what is being asked (fainthearted), then we can visit, encourage, and generally come alongside him. Yes, we have made a four-hour drive to dorms to do laundry, assist with some mundane task, or simply to make free time during a stressful period. Sometimes we realize that our child is weak or unable to do what is being asked of him. Here we have to be especially wise to be able to discern what the real reason is. If it is mental or physical capability, we may have to suggest a different path in life. If there is spiritual warfare, we may need to intervene with prayer and specific action steps on his behalf. In all cases we are called to be patient and to assure each of them of our love for him and our desire for God’s best in his life. Bottom line: when our children are on missions, we do periodic checks to make sure that each one is equipped for successful completion.
Third, the receiving party must also know the goal and provide meaningful feedback. This means that the ones to whom you are sending your child must clearly understand what you want them to accomplish and be able to quickly interface with you if things are not progressing well. When our children were in their teen years, we sent them to various families–whom we knew well, respected, and trusted–for training and exposure. If the time away was more than a week, we planned review times with the family, to make sure all was progressing well; otherwise, we simply received a written report at the end of their time. In the report or review we wanted to know the answer to two simple questions: “What did you learn from this experience about the family and about yourself?” and “What did this experience confirm in your heart about your life-purpose plan?” The answers to these two questions helped us in understanding our children and directing them further as they grew and developed. We asked the family with whom they spent time to tell us about his character, behavior, and attitude while our child was with them. This information gave us an outsider’s view of our children and helped us to hone our parenting skills–or practice humility! Feedback is critical in making continued progress in life; it is a treasure!
For any of this to make sense, young people and their parents must have some idea of where and how God would have them spend their lives on this earth. The purpose of sending our young people out is to “get them dirty.” By this I mean to experience life and God in a controlled and structured environment outside of their own home so they can rightly understand who they are to be and what they are to do with the lives God has given them. It is really a way to check the dream they have for themselves by living it for a time in a controlled test environment. If you have not spent any time thinking about the future, I recommend LifePurposePlanning.org as a great tool to use and a good place to get started.
Sue and I are grateful for the many families who have taken our children and trained them for a time. Their feedback has been invaluable in assisting us to properly direct their future and path. You may be asking, “How do I find such families who can assist me?” The first and best way is through your church or home schooling support group. These folks will usually be like-minded in their approach and able to provide the needed support and correction. Next best are trusted organizations that offer opportunities or services that match the experiences you desire for your young person. At ALERT Cadet ministries we have had many young people stay and serve with us for a few weeks to a year and even longer.
Last, find individuals or corporations in your community who could offer the experience for which you are looking. You will want to tread carefully, to make sure these folks will uphold the standards of conduct and behavior you have for your young people.
May God give you (and us), as parents, wisdom to raise your sons and daughters to be mighty for our Lord!