Raising Children With Hope - Radical

Raising Children With Hope

Long days. Sleepless nights. Difficult conversations. Parenting and passing the gospel on to our children these days gets more and more challenging by the hour. However, as Christians, we have a deep, gospel-grounded hope that God will use every detail of our lives for the glory of His name. David Platt, Ann Voskamp, Melissa Kruger, and Emma Kruger joined to host “Raising Children with Hope”, an event by Radical where they shared insights and practical encouragement to help Christians love the next generation with hope for them, and for the world.

David: Well, good morning. It is really good to be together. I know that your minds and hearts are probably totally full from the last couple of days, and you’re waking up this morning just in a bit of a daze and you’re about to go for it one more time and you’re totally full. It’s like when you’re eating a meal and it’s done and somebody brings something that looks really good, like a conversation with these three sisters up here and you’re like, okay, I want that, but I don’t even know how much I can take. So anyway, I hope this will be edifying and not overwhelming. So we’re going to have a conversation about raising children with hope for them and the world. So just a little bit of a setup, just the nuance there that we want to have a conversation about what it means and not just in our homes, but beyond our homes.

I don’t assume that everybody in this room is a mom or a wife. I know that there are many single sisters who migght be here this morning, but for us to think yes in our homes and then beyond our homes in the church, what does it look like to live, to see the next generation love a great God and accomplish a Great Commission. Live to love him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and live to spread his glory in the world, which both go totally against the grain of the world around us. So I told them as we were talking about this conversation, I just want to lob some things out there and let them just go. So I’m here to facilitate a conversation between three sisters who I have much respect for, so Ann Voskamp down here, you know her from the books she’s written.

Let’s give it up for God’s grace in Ann Voskamp, books she’s written that have sold millions of copies, but far more important than that… And Heather and I have just had the pure joy and privilege of getting to know Ann’s heart as a wife, as a mom of seven, and through the ups and downs of being a mom of seven and just praying together, walking through challenges together and pressing into Christ together. I have deep respect for Ann Voskamp and highly commend all that she has written to you, including many books we’ve used in our home in discipling our children, as well as just encouragement in our own hearts. And then for the very first time, this mother-daughter combination on stage together, Melissa and Emma Kruger. So Melissa is basically making this whole conference happened and has, by God’s grace, been willing to come to this breakfast.

But yeah, she leads discipleship and program and all a variety of other things at The Gospel Coalition and has written many books including Parenting with Hope that we kind of hijacked the name of this conversation based off of. So sorry, I didn’t know if that was copyrighted or if that was okay to do, but we did it. So this is Melissa and then her daughter Emma, who is a recent graduate a year ago from UNC Chapel Hill and is… Okay, we’ve got a few North Carolina folks.

She’s part of the Summit Church has gone into nursing, has been doing a year of nursing so far and a month from today will be getting married to her fiance who is headed to Malaysia right now. So we are praying for a good trip and a good return between now and a month from today. So yeah.

All right, let’s just dive in and I hope I’ve just prayed, we’ve prayed together and individually that this would be edifying to you and wherever you find yourself, I love how conversations like this, the Holy Spirit I just trust the Holy Spirit to lead and guide in different ways that will, I hope, just land in different hearts and lives and circumstances and situations some of you’re going through. Great days when it comes to raising up the next generation. Some of you’re going through hard days and great days and hard days are all represented up here on this stage. So I’ll kick it to you, Ann, to start. When you think about raising children with hope for them and the world, what comes to your mind? That’s the biggest lob I can give for you to just take it and run.

Ann Voskamp: Well, the only thing I can answer with is God’s word. So 1 Peter 1-5, “Bless it, be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading kept in heaven for you who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.” We have a living hope in Jesus. Hope is a person. We are leaning into him. I don’t know what you’re facing right now in your ministry, in your home, in your family relationships, but you can’t lose hope because hope is a person and he hasn’t lost you. He’s walking with you every step of the way and I was born into a non-Christian family, a non-believing home.

I married the youngest of nine and a very… Actually, they ran Child Evangelism Fellowship, Good News Bible Clubs for 23 years in their home, 80 kids every Friday night. And on Daryl’s mother’s wall, there was this little plaque that said, “Only one life will soon be passed. Only what’s done for Jesus will last. Live for Jesus. Live for Jesus.” At a thrift store, I found the same little print and I have it on the wall in the living room and pray that over the kids every single night. Hope really is about only one life will soon be passed. Only what’s done for Jesus will last. Live for Jesus. So to pray that over our children and trust that God is going to take that seed and reap a harvest for all eternity.

Melissa Kruger: Yeah, when I think of that too, I think of Romans 15:13, if I’m wrong, just correct me, but may the God of all hope fill you with hope. So it’s because we have the source of hope that we can be filled with hope.

Ann Voskamp: That’s right.

Melissa Kruger: And it’s the object that matters. Like you were saying, it’s not just like at Christmas, it’s be hopeful, be joyful, believe. But it’s like in what?

Ann Voskamp: Exactly.

Melissa Kruger: And it’s because we serve a God of all hope that we can be hopeful.

Ann Voskamp: Exactly. Exactly.

Emma Kruger: And coming back to Romans, I think of that verse, and I think it’s Romans 5 where it says, talking about a hope that does not put us to shame. And I think about the world and all of the hopes that are putting people to shame and are not satisfying them. I even was praying in the car the other day thinking about getting married. And it’s so hopeful and you have this expectation and thinking, oh, even this thing that I’m excited for and planning for, it’s not going to satisfy. And then to think that there is a hope that we have that will exceed every possible expectation we could have for it and that is a thing that the world does not have. And so when I think of even in our home trying to be people that were hopeful of this thing, this person who would always be enough and always satisfy, and then there is this need that we feel to go to a world that is being put to shame by the hopes of the world.

David: Good. Wow. I’m just encouraged and convicted. We’ve not scripted any of this. We’ve got some questions we might dive into, but one, just being reminded as I’m listening and hope being a person that when it comes to children, teenagers, in our home, in the church, yes, to point them to God’s word as his law, his commandments, his truth, but to make sure at the root of all that we’re pointing them to a person so they don’t just become moral. I do. I follow the rules, I do this stuff.

And they miss a heart for Jesus in the process that it’s not just about getting them to obey in certain ways or do certain things, but to love and be loved by Jesus. And then the other direction my mind’s going as I’m listening is just in my own heart that my hope is not… My hope is in a person as well. It’s not ultimately in how my kids are going to turn out or the circumstances in my parenting at any given moment because that’s a recipe for a lot of ups and downs when it comes to hope, but to keep hoping in Jesus for my kids or keep hoping in Jesus for the next generation, that’s really key to keep the focus on him as the person.

Melissa Kruger: What you just said I think is so important because if we’re hoping in our children, that is a huge burden to put on them.

Ann Voskamp: We can actually make an idol out of our children that they’re… And we can realize that actually my identity is wrapped up in their accomplishments as opposed to my identity of being in Christ alone. And to lay those idols down and to understand that my parenting… Our children aren’t computer programs, that if we program something, we get this outcome. Our children are persons created in the image of God. And it’s not about an outcome. It’s about me coming to Jesus and praying for my children. So just yeah, that parenting isn’t a formula. It’s about us being faithful and what does that look like? We aren’t about being a picture-perfect family, but is our family really a picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

David: All right. So let me ask, let’s drill down on a practical level. What are some practical things that happen in the Kruger or the Voskamp home to instill hope into your home?

Emma Kruger: You guys have heard my mom talk a lot about the Kruger household and now you get to hear it from me.

Melissa Kruger: Now the truth comes out.

Emma Kruger: Just kidding.

David: Tell us the real story, Emma.

Emma Kruger: I was actually telling my mom this story last night. We were talking about this panel and talking about her talks on parenting and things that I remember growing up. And a phrase that we would use in the college ministry I was in was more is caught than taught. And I think that both of my parents modeled that really well. But I specifically remember when I was probably six or seven, my mom, I would watch her every morning sitting reading her Bible, spending time with God, praying for us, writing in this journal that was full of prayers for our family. And she came up to me with this little spiral pink notebook and she did not say, “Emma, every morning, you need to be up reading your Bible and writing in this journal and I’m going to check you on it.” It was, “This is what I do to spend time with God.”

And she gave me probably a similar thing to the here method, highlight what you see and go through it. But I still have that journal and there are prayers that I wrote as a 7-year-old that I get to look back on some of that are really funny like I wanted to be an actress. But other really sweet ones that I was praying and she cultivated that not in this way of doing more, but just showing the way she was living her life. And as a kid, you’re like, my mom is the coolest and still is the coolest and you want to be more like them. I just think even still, that’s one of the greatest gifts as a kid to get from your parents.

Melissa Kruger: I told her I had no memory of the pink notebook. I was like, “Oh really? That’s great. Good job. Okay good.”

David: Wow.

Emma Kruger: That’s perfect.

David: That’s so good actually. I hope I’ve done something that I don’t remember that would lead my child to say that one day. That would be awesome. I’m not going to hope in that, but that would be really awesome. It’s good.

Ann Voskamp: Yeah, I think it’s really beautiful, Melissa. I’ve always, when the kids were all really little, we had six kids across 10 years, so there were a lot and we homeschooled, so they were all there all of the time. And I think it’s really… I never wanted my “quiet time” to be compartmentalized behind a door. I wanted to do that in front of the kids so that… I mean they would pull up with their little story bibles or their little journals and their crowns. I wanted them to see that we don’t compartmentalize time with God into this hour over here. But look, we’re trying to live a one-piece life where Jesus is in all the parts and pieces of our life. So right there you going ahead and modeling that, this is how I press into Jesus. Our middle daughter Shalom is home from university and I really like the kitchen table to be cleared and there’s nothing on the kitchen table.

But I have found it to be such a joy having her home from university that she has her women’s study bible and her journal and her pack of all of her highlighters sitting on the kitchen table and she comes up at 5:00 in the morning before she goes to the barn to do chores with my husband to do her Bible reading and journaling. And I am so grateful for the stack of those books on our table that I have no problems with those on my kitchen table at all. But to see that there’s no greater joy to see your children, the thing that when they were this high with their little crayons that you now see them with their highlighters. So I think yes, it’s the caught and not taught. They’re going to actually… We can’t instill something that we don’t have in us.

So we can’t actually produce fruit in our children’s lives. That is a work of God. Our job is to how am I abiding in the vine myself that I am producing by my surrender, Jesus is producing that in me. And I think so much of what parenting we can think, okay, if I read my Bible, this will happen. It can be the same thinking like spiritual disciplines. If I do these things, this happens. These things are means of grace that the Holy Spirit that Jesus himself works through. So we offer this up as a means of grace that God then can actually stir in the heart of our children to produce that fruit.

Melissa Kruger: And what I love about this too, we’re talking about we are rooted, we are abiding that our parenting is actually not so much having a focus on our child. I was thinking about prayer time in your family. It can be like, “Hey Emma, what’s your prayer request? What are you going through?” And that’s what we’re tempted to do as parents so that they know we love them and we want to pray for our kids. But one thing I do know that we really try to do was pray for our missionaries. This is so simple, right? This is not taking them on big missionary trips. This is not traveling the world with them necessarily. But it’s just saying, “Hey, who in our church, in our local church, who are some of the missionaries our church supports?”

And then when they come and visit and you get to say, “Oh, you remember. Hey, that’s Phil and Shana from Prague. Okay, we’ve been praying for their church there.” And then your kids feel like they know them. And the missionaries when they get to hear little seven-year-old’s been praying for them, it’s a way of loving them. But it’s connecting your child to the bigger picture and it’s helping them actually look to God that we’re a family on mission. Wherever we live, we’re a family on mission.

Ann Voskamp: We had the practice, which came from my husband’s family, which actually is they do it often in the Netherlands, Christian families after they’re done eating the meal, you don’t get up and leave the table until you’ve read scripture, which is living bread. All other food is dead food that you have to either keep in your fridge, but when you open up the word that is living bread, living food. So we never left the table until we read scripture, which sounds really holier than thou, but it was messy. There were kids that were all over the place, but it was our regular practice that is always what we did. But to keep the newsletters from missionaries in the Bible. So when we were done reading scripture to read those… Actually, David, remember this really old, we called it the Bible box. So all the kids had their little small Bibles.

When we were done reading we’d open up the Bible box that we kept right there at the bench beside the table. They take out all their little Bibles, we would read and then we would read and they weren’t very old. And that was a very dogeared book by the time we were done. We read Radical together as a family. So I really do think reading scripture, reading biographies of missionaries around the world to see the sacrifices that people have made because Christ is so worthy. And then as they got older, they all read Something’s Got to Change on their own. Pass that book around kid to kid and had those discussions. So I think being readers, and so it’s not about getting on a plane necessarily and going somewhere else and we have the nations. We live in a world where the nations has come to us in so many ways. So what does proximity look like to people in your own community that come from somewhere else that look different than you?

And if they’re not projects what do your friendships actually look like? If we really care about the nations over there, the nations are living around us right here. For us as a family, that meant we brought home two families, refugee families, and lived in community with them over the course of two years. And it’s really beautiful to sit at a table with people from all over the world and think we get to share Jesus with these people. So I think you’re right. It doesn’t look like getting on a plane, but what are your regular practices look like that you care about the world, whether it’s Joshua Project or Operation World, it’s praying for those people around the world.

Melissa Kruger: I love what you said because especially I want to highlight the missionary biographies because we do have the chance to set our kids’ heroes and there can be a real negative about heroes. And look, we know we’re all fallen people, but there is Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith. And so we can say, “Hey, these people made a difference in the world.” And our world is going to put heroes before our kids and they’re going to say, “Emulate this person because they look really cute on stage or whatever.” They’re going to put them so you get to before the world gets to them, put some heroes in front of them.

And there are now so many more good children’s books and picture books about people like Amy Carmichael and just things like that that you can set before them and say, “Let your kids get to know these people because that’s going to start them thinking, oh, what do I want to become? Who do I want to be?” And it is just this picture of hey, these are people that did amazing things for God. No one’s perfect, but they honored God with their lives. Let’s do that together.

Emma Kruger: I wanted to buy all of the children books on missionaries in the bookstore. I don’t have kids and I wanted all of them, but there was one that’s actually in there that I remember you guys giving to us. It was the 10 women who changed the world. It was those little books and it would go through so many different missionary women. And I remember reading that and thinking, I want to be a missionary after reading books like that. And something that I love that both of you guys touched on is that I think that kids are never too young to start recognizing and seeing the state of the world without Jesus, the need for people to go to the nations. I think you guys would say, you remember when I first in kindergarten that hit home for me. My school did missions week and we talked through all these different Hindu groups, Buddhist groups-

Melissa Kruger: THUMB. THUMB.

Emma Kruger: THUMB.

Melissa Kruger: Tribal, Hindu-

Emma Kruger: Unreached.

Melissa Kruger: …Unreached, Muslim, Buddhist,

Emma Kruger: We still remember it. But I came home and told my parents, I want to be a missionary after that week and I was in kindergarten and it was the first time I think I’d really realized, oh, we’ve talked about Jesus in our home for all these years, but there are actually people that do not know Jesus. And I think even just as an encouragement, it was amazing from such a young age to be made aware of the need and not in this way of burden, but in this way of Jesus is calling us to go to these people and then it led to some pretty weird things. I would go give Bibles to all the neighborhood kids and embarrass my parents. So be prepared for that.

Melissa Kruger: Can we tell the repent story? Okay. So you know how there’s, we lived in a cul-de-sac and I come home one day and we have sidewalk chalk like everyone has. And Emma is in the cul-de-sac and she has written something in the cul-de-sac, really big letters. And I go out and I’m like, oh, what’s she written and written in these beautiful kid letters is the word repent.

Ann Voskamp: It is the first word of the gospel. It is.

David: So good.

Emma Kruger: I was like they need to hear this.

Melissa Kruger: And we were like, oh, okay. Oh wow, this is rough. And then even this neighbor, we had this neighbor and he was living an interesting lifestyle. Anyway, yeah. Anyway, he worked for radio station. He was very into worldly things let me just put it that way. And he had the son and Emma had given him a Bible and I was just trying to a little bit like sweaty about it and a little bit embarrassed. And he came up to me, he goes, “I just want you to know there are a lot worse things that your daughter could be giving my son than the Bible.” I was like, “Thanks for assuring me. I’m the worst evangelist in the world.”

Emma Kruger: That was a good time.

David: Man I love that on so many levels, Emma and Melissa and that it was in a cul-de-sac, like turn around, repent. Going the wrong way. It’s just so metaphorical is… Yeah. But I just want to connect some dots just to make sure as I’m listening to this just to make sure one, I mean they’re talking about worldview shaping from the moment a child is in your home. Or again, think church-wise too. Just, I mean I think about this all the time as a pastor, it’s one thing to talk with somebody who is 20, 30, 40, 50 about God’s heart for the nations and what it means to live for the spread of the gospel in the world. It’s like it’s all new When you’re starting that at three, four, five, six years old, that changes everything. So we shouldn’t just start talking about mission when somebody can jump on a plane to go or do this or that to give, but to start early worldview shaping that the nations would be a part of your prayer life in your home, that the nations would be a part of the conversations you’re having.

And even to Ann’s point, the nations where you live that you’re really intentional about, hey, we love all types of people. Let’s pray for all types of people who come from all types of different backgrounds or have different needs that are right around us. And that’s part of what I love about the repent story is that talking about the nations in a dream to be missionaries as a kindergartner led to passing out Bibles in a neighborhood. It’s a both and. We don’t have to choose either I care about my neighbors or I care about the nations. The spirit in me cares about my neighbors and the spirit in me cares about the nations. And so to raise children and to pour into teenagers to say, our students in the church to say, “Hey, we care about people in our school and our neighborhoods and we care about the nations, both and.”

Ann Voskamp: Yeah, I think sometimes I got caught up in that dichotomy, David, where I’m like, oh, I care about those people over… We are doing so… The wealth here, the access to the gospel here is so different. I care about the people who haven’t had access to the gospel, but to really think globally and locally. So now it’s always like I’m going to go glocal. So it’s local and global at the same time. It’s repent in the neighborhood, but also for the nations too.

Melissa Kruger: Glocal, glocal.

David: Melissa, are there any other things? I mean we’ve talked about things you’ve totally forgotten that you did. Is there anything else you remember doing at any point in your parenting that would be helpful? Just on a practical level when it comes to either loving a great God, accomplishing a Great commission?

Melissa Kruger: I will say this. I can remember when I was pregnant with Emma and it’s this first child and I can remember what I was so assured of was that salvation is by grace alone through faith, not through perfect parenting. And so I understood with this baby in my womb, I could do nothing to save her. And it was terrifying. And so just know, and I say that even too for parents who are in here, maybe their kids aren’t walking with the Lord, salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. It’s not because of perfect parenting. Yes, we have a responsibility to think about our parenting. I’m not saying that, but I just want to say I understood. And so I remember just praying, praying that the Lord would save this child. And so that’s something we start, but also praying and I remember opening my hands and saying, “Lord, just please save her. Please save all my kids.”

I said this with every one of them and they are yours. They’re yours and just being willing to send and so I think a posture in our heart, a prayerful posture that this life is just a journey. This is not my home. This is not my kingdom. This is not where everything will be and I can remember really in my heart of hearts, will we settle it as moms in our heart of hearts that Lord, you can take them wherever you want them to go and you can do with them whatever you will do and just begging.

But please just give us eternity together because that’s when we’re home. I just desperately wanted to be home with my kids for eternity. But on this life, can it just say you can do whatever you will with them, and just that, can we just go before the Lord in prayer and say, “Not my will, but your will be done with our kids,” because we as parents, we either can go ourselves, but we can always be sending and we can be praying that they would be sent to the nation. So I would just say a heart posture of prayer.

David: Good. I’ve shared before as I spend time on college campuses, it’s fairly common to talk with a college student from a Christian home whose biggest obstacle to potentially going to the nations is actually their mom or dad, and a holding onto that or even just… I mean, you’ve got this education, just get a job here with this. So yeah, I think that’s a really good word to trust the Lord with our kids’ lives. So along those lines, trusting the Lord with our kids’ lives, what are some of the greatest obstacles that you see today in raising children with hope for them and the world? What are the biggest challenges and how do we think about overcoming them? Who wants to take that one?

Ann Voskamp: I think just to your point David, and to yours, Melissa, how have we held onto our children? That is in lots of ways a great obstacle because we think we poured into them, we want relationship with them, we love them. I went to Iraq just three weeks after the 21 Christian Egyptians were martyred in Libya by Isis and I was really scared to go. And it was my husband Daryl, who said, “Ann, you are safer in the will of the Lord in Iraq than you would be at home on the farm, out of the will of the Lord.” And before I left, I think our oldest Caleb at the time was maybe he was 16, and he stood at the door and he put his hands on my shoulder and he said, “Mom, just keep your head on your shoulders. Okay?”

But I think it’s about us as parents really modeling… We are meant to risk our lives. We are meant to lay down our lives. We are meant to step out of our comfort zones. I think the greatest obstacle is that the comfort that we have here in North America, that becomes an idol that we become really lazy and sloppy in. And we talk about going to the nations, but we don’t really know there’s a cost in going. But really it is a great joy to be in the will of the Lord wherever that is. So I mean, we’re talking backstage that you want to raise up children to go to the nations, which means releasing them.

And yes, we’re sad about it. Shalom talks about, I know mom, you would love for me to live close, but you actually did this, that you actually put this love of the world in me that I am praying, Lord, where do you want me to go? And that to be part of their prayer life from the time they’re little, that I am not assuming that you are going to live in close proximity to me, but you are going to live in close proximity to Jesus himself who is going to call you anywhere in the world he wants to call you.

Melissa Kruger: Yeah, it’s just so not safe. It’s so not safe. She was in India in November, was it November, or yeah? And she’s like, oh yeah, “Mom, I’ll tell you more about it when I get home.” And she’s riding in these rickshaws and she’s going to the Red Light District where the rickshaw driver is saying, “You ladies do not go down there. You ladies do not go down there.” And that’s where they’re headed. They’re like, “We just let him go away. And then we went down the street we were supposed to go to.” And I’m like, “Okay, she’s totally safe. She’s totally safe. She’s in Jesus.” Whatever. I mean, anyway, but it’s risky.

Ann Voskamp: It is risky.

Melissa Kruger: It’s risky.

Ann Voskamp: But it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be and as parents from the time they’re little, we’re trying to keep them safe, but the gospel is dangerous because it transforms us. So we want our children in the spirit to step into those things.

Emma Kruger: And I think that again is another thing I just feel really grateful for in our home that I feel like you guys did a really good job of saying to us, again, not these sets of rules to follow, but you are each individual children. So me and my sister are so different. We don’t even look alike and people are always shocked we’re sisters. She’s musically gifted. I am not. All these things and they, I think did a really good job of pressing into those things with us when it comes to being missional. So even for me as a nurse for a long time, I was like, what am I going to do as a nurse?

Emma Kruger: I cannot do this job. And I remember my parents looking at me and saying, “Emma, think about what you can do with this job for the glory of God.” And I think that it was just really beautiful that you guys, your thought wasn’t Emma become the greatest nurse and move up the ranks in the marketplace. It was how can we steward the ways that God has made each of you to then be missional in the ways that God has created you? So with my sister, that could be with music. With my brother, he’s in engineering. Who knows what he’ll do?

Melissa Kruger: Yeah. John went to Malaysia last summer. Was Malaysia, right? Yeah. Okay. Yeah. He went to Malaysia last summer on mission trip, and I came back and one, we were shocked he went. I mean, he’s kind of like, I like North Carolina. Why would anyone leave? Yeah, exactly. It’s got the beach. It’s got the mountains. It’s a great state. Move there. Don’t move there. Actually don’t move there. Too many people are moving there. But so he gets to Malaysia and I was kind of like, when he gets back, I’m like, “Well, how was it?” I was like, wow, maybe the Lord’s going to send him out. And he was like, “Oh yeah, I’m totally not going to be a missionary.” He’s like, “No way. No way.” But we talked about it going, gave him better eyes for what it costs and what it requires, and he will always be a better sender because he has been.

Melissa Kruger: And so there’s something to remember of some will stay, but he understands now what it’s costing a missionary to go. And I know, I mean, it’s like Eric Little, right? He said, “I was made to run, my son was made to build rockets.” It’s like that’s what he’s all into is building rocket fuel and blowing things up. But he can still have a heart for the nations and he can still send. So it’s giving them this vision and they can still see it, whatever they’re called to. So it’s not this pressure cooker of if you’re not being a missionary, you’re not living in God’s will. It’s just saying whatever God’s called you to do, how will you steward that to point people to Jesus?

David: Again, just connecting dots, just making sure that we’re catching some of what I believe is spirit helping us. Going all the way back to one of the first things Emma said, so much of what she has received in her home was caught rather than taught. So do your children or does the next generation in your church see in you a zeal for the spread of God’s glory among the nations? And a willingness to give sacrificially toward that end to spend time and prayer toward that end to potentially go to Iraq or wherever the Lord may lead. I mean, what a testimony to kids to see their mom say it’s worth it to follow Jesus into a hard place. Yeah, you’re going to catch something in that process.

Ann Voskamp: I received texts afterwards, very close friends that I had known for decades who were furious with me for going. That as a mom, you should never do that because what is that saying to your kids that you could lose your life and that’s not being a good mom? Whereas Daryl saw it the exact opposite. We are saying that look at our lives are of no value at all in terms of what is Jesus’ gospel mission actually… We’re already dead. We are alive in Christ, so give our lives for the gospel. So you’re going to get pushback on that, but really is it showing your kids Jesus is so worthy of everything?

David: That just… Wow, what that etches into. What?

Melissa Kruger: I was just saying amen.

David: Oh, amen. Yes. Yeah. Yes. It’s so good. Yeah. If our kids see us living a nice comfortable Christian spin on the American dream, then really no matter what we say they’re going to grow up with, that’s what it means to follow Jesus instead of if our kids or next generation seeing us a zeal for God and zeal for the spread of his glory among the nations, just obviously it’s not programmed. They’ll automatically catch that, but we’re praying that they would catch that as they see that in us. And then I loved what you were saying about John, your son, just shepherding each of their heart. That’s the beauty. I mean, I look around this room, every single one of us has a unique part to play in this global mission God has given us, and every one of our kids has a unique part to play.

David: And so not to try to force a particular picture of what that looks like, but to help them think through how to do nursing for the glory of God, how to do engineering for the glory of God, and to always be open to how the Lord might use your gifts for the spread of his glory in the world and to shepherd them uniquely toward that end. What else comes to your mind when it comes to different stages of life with kids? We’ve talked about kindergarten Emma, what about high school Emma or middle school Emma, or just as you all think about different ages and stages of life with kids and what have you found helpful or challenging? Yeah.

Ann Voskamp: Yeah. I think it does look different at different ages and stages, but what the seeds you start to plant when they’re little, you start to see some of that fruit in God’s grace and kindness. We had several sons as teenagers who would drive the two hours into Toronto, which is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, and actually just share the gospel on the street corners and have conversations and talk. You think, wow, I grew up in a non-believing home and got saved through Good News Bible Club, and your kids can go and share the gospel on the street and not to be ashamed of the gospel in any way. So I think the verses that they’re memorizing as little kids, the songs that you’re singing that really how are we stirring our kids’ hearts affection for Jesus long term? And they catch that from us every day.

Melissa Kruger: Yeah. And on that when they get… You said this, I think early on too, even how we approach God’s word, there can be… And even family devotions and all of these things. I would just say it can be so tempting to be fearful of the wrong things as parents. And so we can be fearful in a controlling way and like, oh, and you’re looking at them again. This is the problem of being too focused on your kids. Of course, we want to love our kids, but if you’re so fearful and hold on, you didn’t want to come to devotions this morning.

Melissa Kruger: Oh my goodness, this probably means you’re not a… Yeah, whatever. Sometimes I don’t want to come to devotions. Come on y’all. I mean, just being sympathetic that hey, it’s a journey. It’s a long journey with these kids and we can be so fearful at one little window if they start having doubts or they start wondering things or they start getting a little bored with church or whatever, and just saying, “Yeah, sometimes I’m bored at church too.” And willing to admit that was not a good sermon. That was just not very good and just have those-

David: Especially when you’re the one who preached it just to be like, yeah, it was not, I’d have been bored if I were you too. Yes.

Melissa Kruger: And so just we go through… Don’t be afraid to be fully… I mean, the word gets overused authentic in front of your kids about your own faith journey. Yeah. I mean you can have doubts, you can have questions. I think one of the best gifts my husband sometimes gives our kids, I mean he’s a New Testament scholar and they are very unimpressed with his biblical understanding sometimes because he will say to them on a regular basis, huh, that’s a really good question. I’m not sure I know the answer.

Ann Voskamp: Wow. The humility of that.

Melissa Kruger: Yeah. So just know you can say, huh, I don’t know. That’s a really good question. Let’s search together. Let’s try to find it out.

Ann Voskamp: What you’re saying right there is the ground at the foot of the cross is all equal, and you are coming and saying, “Oh wow, I’m struggling too,” and Jesus is holding onto me. I don’t know, and I’m leaning in with you. You really are saying we are both pilgrims on the way of Jesus together.

Melissa Kruger: You are an example, but you are not the example.

Ann Voskamp: Exactly.

David: Write that down.

Ann Voskamp: We cannot save our children or be a savior to our children. We are called to be like the savior to our children.

David: Write that down too. That’s good. So helpful. Oh man, there’s so many things here. One thing that it’s all coming back to also to when I asked a question about obstacles and the whole conversation went to obstacles in our own hearts, we can easily point to social media or this or that in the world. If all those things weren’t… But what we’re talking about is it starts here. There’s a lot of things we can’t control in the world, and obviously, we want to be wise in helping create boundaries and I’ll tell a real quick story. We have stuff on our devices at home to keep bad stuff out and we had put some one of these programs on a laptop and it messed up the whole computer.

David: So we took it to the Geek Squad at Best Buy, and they were fixing it, and I’m picking it up and this 20-year-old kid, he’s like, “We recommend not putting that kind of software on computers.” And I’m like, “Well, I mean I have six kids. I’m just trying to protect them from some things.” He was like, “Well, we would recommend you still not put it.” I said, “Well, what would you recommend I do?” He said, “Well, we would recommend you teach them to make wise decisions.” I was like, “Well, thank you.” Man, what would I have done in my parenting without that piece of gold that you just gave me? I’ll just go home and tell Heather wise decisions. That’s what we’re after. So anyway. Yeah. Why was I even talking about that? I lost my whole train of thought.

Melissa Kruger: Were pointing out, you were talking about a good thing. You were talking about the idolatry in our own hearts.

David: Yes, yes.

Melissa Kruger: And I would like to say that, I mean, one thing I talk about in Parenting with Hope is actually the whole second section is the battle. And I think we think the battle with our kids is outside influences sex, drugs, rock and roll to use the… Those are old news now I guess or whatever, but-

David: They’re still all around.

Melissa Kruger: Yeah, they’re still around. But that used to be these fears, these outside influences. And I think something we have to reckon with is our idolatry about certain good things are more dangerous sometimes. And I think we have to really look at our hearts and think about scholarship, success, social success.

Ann Voskamp: Exactly. Those are all of those things that actually become the obstacles, the barriers. Go ahead. Yes.

Melissa Kruger: Yes. And there are good things and sports, these are the things. Okay.

Ann Voskamp: Do that again.

Melissa Kruger: Yes.

Ann Voskamp: Yeah, because we need that again.

David: Write that down.

Ann Voskamp: Write that down. Yeah. Write that down. [inaudible 00:44:39]-

David: The four Ss.

Melissa Kruger: Four Ss, there are three or… Scholarship, social success, their social acceptability, and then sports and activities is what I would say these things and so those are good, healthy things. We want our kids to play sports, we want our kids to do well in school, but good things can often be idols. And we become so focused on getting our kids to every activity. And so that’s a discipleship issue. What you’re spending your time on is actually a discipleship issue and so when you’re running to all these things. Yeah. You talk.

Ann Voskamp: What’s a heart motivation? Really it’s my own idol that my kid looks good because it reflects on. Is that the root under the scholarship, the success, the sports that look at my kid has become my idol on my mantle here?

Melissa Kruger: We live in a society of curated children. Okay. Yeah. And so this is my curated child. We want to call it well-rounded, but it’s curated and they are dying under the pressure. We want to talk about anxiety, we want to talk about all these things. We are curating them. And so they live their whole lives thinking I’m not enough. Rather than, I talked about this yesterday, looking at your child and saying, “It’s this gift and I’m sitting here with this gift and it’s being unwrapped before me as God makes them who he created them to be, and I get to enjoy and be part of the ride.” Okay. That’s our goal. But when everything is about what we want to make them to be, it’s different I want to give them opportunities to help them do these things. That’s fine. I’m not against any of those. My kids all played the sports. I cared about their school. But it’s our obsession with it and I think that idolatry in our own hearts is a place of battle for us in all of our parenting.

Ann Voskamp: Because really what we’re obsessed with is the optics of what we look like as opposed to being, do people see Jesus in us? What are we really about… We want to be seen as yes.

David: And to make the connection the caught rather than taught. We are passing on idolatry from one generation to the next. We’re teaching them to value those things to without… We wouldn’t say it, but to look to those things for their significance because they’re spending so much time and energy on those things.

Melissa Kruger: It’s our time, our money and then I always say, what do you think about when you’re not thinking? It’s like, what’s your little dream factory for your kid? And those are all the things that are really, really pushing.

Emma Kruger: And I think too, you already have a world that is throwing all of those things at kids. So when they go to college, it’s can you be the best student? Can you be the most successful? Can you have the most friends? We do have social media, we have all of these things now that are already throwing that at kids to put pressure on them and to make them into something the world wants them to be. And so I think then when the home is the place where that is different and where there is no pressure to perform. It could make me cry thinking about how restful home has always been for me.

Emma Kruger: And I think that the reason for that is they looked at me and my siblings and said, “We love who Jesus is making you to be, and we want to be a part of that more than we want you to be successful and more than we want…” And it’s so freeing. As a kid, it is so freeing to not be shoved into these fears for the ways of the world when the world is already throwing all of that at you.

Ann Voskamp: I just think as parents, our real work is not to take credit for our children or to take any condemnation for our children, but to keep taking our children to Christ. Full stop.

David: Okay, so along those lines… Well, one, I want to pause and praise God for his grace in the picture of the two of you. It’s beautiful. Yeah, we were talking in the back. Anna and I were like, well, we would love to be up here with any one of our kids talking about loving a great God and accomplishing a Great Commission. What parent would not like… Yes. So praise God for his grace that has made, yes, that a reality we’ve talked about at different points in this conversation, how that you can’t guarantee that. You can do all the means of grace and be wise in parenting in all those kinds of different ways. Obviously none of us perfect, but a child may not. And particularly I love what you said, Melissa, about patience with seasons.

David: Heather and I were having that conversation this week with one particular issue with one child, and our minds immediately went to, they’re going to be like this for life and we’ve got to fix this now. And it’s like, wait a minute, let’s just get to tomorrow. We don’t have to solve life right now, just today. So the patience in that. And so knowing there are different seasons, so I’m sure that around this room, there are many around this room who have children or people in the next generation they love deeply who are not walking with the Lord. What encouragement would you give to anybody in those shoes?

Ann Voskamp: I guess I take great comfort in the Lord himself, our heavenly Father knows what it’s like to have prodigal children and he’s a perfect father and we’ve been imperfect parents. So you have a safe place to take all of those tears to. And I think we’ve mentioned it several times, our parenting can’t come from a place of fear or panic. God is working on long timelines. He’s on the throne. He’s not panicking at all. I spoke to a woman yesterday and she shared a bit about a story of her son who he was an addict for several years and her heart was broken. He is now saved walking with the Lord, but working in a facility that is helping addicts. You don’t know why God has them on the journey. I mean, look at all of us out of the most deeply painful parts of our stories.

Ann Voskamp: That’s where God is using us in ministry to comfort other people with the comfort we’ve received from himself. So we can look at our children’s story and go, why is this happening? Well, wait, God, who is the word, the author of the story. So the author has all authority. He is writing a good story for our children. And I can relate to the panic of, wait, what? And as my husband always says, “No, no, our job is not to be so fixated on outcomes of our children, but our job is to keep coming to Jesus with our children and allow God who is the good shepherd, who is watching over our children when we are in bed wide awake, praying for our children, wondering where they’re at, knowing that God’s eye is on them.”

Ann Voskamp: And the good shepherd leaves the 99 for the one. He is constantly pursuing them and coming after them. So in a bent and broken world, we need to be focused on where is my bend towards my bent is always supposed to be towards the cross of Jesus and living in a cruciform life that is showing the outreach to God and to the people around me and trust that the Holy Spirit is doing a good work.

Melissa Kruger: Yeah. And I would just say with all of our kids, I don’t think you ever feel safe and this is what I mean. We’ve all walked with the Lord long enough to… Mike and I have had friends who, I mean we did ministry with for years who just leave the faith one day. So one thing we all know, I know we’re on a journey and I’m so thankful Emma’s walking with the Lord today. And I don’t want to get into a theological discourse about certain things. I’m just saying, but we’ve always… You see people… So I am as a parent, always praying for my kids. I mean, I feel like we’re safe when we’re all in heaven together and we’re all rejoicing around the throne of God.

Ann Voskamp: And there’s no arriving.

Melissa Kruger: Yes.

Ann Voskamp: God is the goal. So it’s not a place we’re trying to arrive at that where kids crossed on finish line until we get home to Jesus. We’re just leaning on him all the way.

Melissa Kruger: Yes and yes. So there’s just this always, this we’re just prayerful parents but I do think… So wherever your child is in the journey, be praying for them, be praying that they know that they would behold and they would believe, I mean, I think that’s the prayer, right? That they’d repent and turn to Christ. That’s not a prayer of when they just come to Christ. That’s a prayer when they’ve been walking with Jesus for 20 years, that they’d repent and come to Christ, that they’d repent and come to Christ. And so I think our prayer life doesn’t change wherever they are in the journey. That’s what we are. But what I will say to a parent whose child is just walking in complete rebellion, the Lord, when we are fearful, time and time in scripture do not fear. Do not fear. Do not fear. The answer is not I’m going to make everything okay.

Melissa Kruger: The answer is, I am with you. So when you’re walking in that you’re not alone, the Lord is with you. And that is part of your journey of faith. That is part of what God is asking you to hold right now. And that is painful and that is suffering and that is hard. And He is with you. He is with you. Yeah. It’s sanctifying. It’s part of your sanctification. So your child’s story is not something for you to figure out and solve. It is something for you to walk with the Lord through. And that is something he’s asking you to entrust to him and you pray and you walk through it, but you walk through it with God and you don’t try to solve it. It’s not yours to solve. Their faith journey is God calls people to himself. God saves people, and we keep holding out the message of hope to them.

Ann Voskamp: And I think it’s walking alongside a prodigal child and saying, “I’m going to be to you what Jesus has been to me, which God gives us withness and God gives us witness.” I’m the God who sees you. So as we lean in with each other, I’m with you in this. I see you in this as God doesn’t abandon me in the midst of all of my prodigal wanders, I’m not abandoning you either. I’m not here to be the Holy Spirit to you either, but I am going to pray that the Lord keeps speaking to you and just to keep praying, Lord, cause my child’s heart to miss you most. And let the Holy Spirit keep doing that work. And how can I be when they see me and experience me, they see Jesus and experience the fragrance of Christ and that’s a sanctifying process. Lord, you have to make me more like you, that you are doing this work. I am not here to be your savior, but to be like the savior to them.

David: I don’t know where Seth is. Are we recording this? I really hope. I’m so mad that I’m moderating this conversation because I want to be writing down everything I’m hearing. So I really hope we’re recording this. Thank you guys. So we are getting close to time, and I want us to pray not just to formally close out this time, but to really just make no sense for us to talk about this and not really pray. So I want us to pray. Before that, I want to ask each of you just to one word of encouragement that comes to your mind or your heart on anything. Yeah. Anything we’ve not talked about or even adding to something we have talked about but just think through. What is one word of encouragement you need to give to the sisters in this room?

Emma Kruger: I think what comes to mind in seeing everyone here is, I don’t know if any of you guys have read it’s called A Chance to Die. It’s by Elisabeth Elliot, but it’s written on Amy Carmichael’s life. And there is a part in the book, it’s one of my favorite quotes, it’s on the wall in my room, and she’s writing… We were talking about this before. When missionaries would leave, there’s this question of, will I see these people I love ever again? Nowadays we can fly, we can FaceTime, but she is leaving to move to India, and she has a father figure in her life who has been a mentor, a friend like a father to her.

Emma Kruger: And she writes to him and she says, “May God strengthen you to say yes to him, even if he asks something which costs.” And she was saying that to him and him sending her out. And so I think that is true, whether you are a parent sending out your children, or if you are the child or the adult being sent, whether it’s to the nations or a city or a church. I think the prayer in leaving today would be, as we behold and believe Jesus, would he strengthen us to say yes to him? No matter what it is will we say yes for our children to go? Will we say yes for what that looks like in our own hearts?

Melissa Kruger: When you were talking, I was thinking of a different missionary I heard speak one time, it was Helen Rosavir and she came and spoke and she was a doctor and she was serving and I can’t remember where she was serving, but at one point, wherever she was, was attacked and the thing that she kept saying, she would say, “Is this worth it?” When she’s building this hospital, she’s doing all these things, is this worth it? And she’d always be like, yes, it’s worth it. And when she was being attacked and she was attacked horrifically herself and she heard the question, is it worth it? And she said, “I can’t answer, it’s worth it right now.” But she said a different question. The spirit brought a different question to mine and it said, “Is he worthy?” And she said, “I can always say yes, he’s worthy.” And so I think when we do this we can always say he’s worthy. He’s worthy.

Ann Voskamp: Not sure there’s much more to say after that. I think just before we go to prayer, we just always prayed for the kids. Lord make us dead to all ladders because as to go lower to the least and the lonely and lost. I think so much of the obstacle is we are trying to strive to go up some ladders as opposed to we are going lower and that we would pray that all of the trials in our life they would be but stones on a trail that take us closer to Jesus’ heart. And that was just always our prayer that the things that look like obstacles know the thing that’s in the way is actually making the way to draw you closer to Jesus, who is the way himself.

David: All right, so I want us to go to Jesus himself. And I know I want to make sure you got plenty of time to get to the first session, but can we just get in groups of two, three, four, just turn to a couple people around you whether you know them or not. If you don’t know them, just introduce yourself real quick. But then here’s what I would invite you to do. If you feel led to do something different, that’s totally fine. But just to conversationally pray, just a sentence at a time each of you, and just as different things come to your mind, just one at a time, just pray a sentence based on things we’ve heard, how you process that or even for specific children or just follow the leadership of the spirit obviously, but just and different ones pray.

David: Just go back and forth for a few minutes and then I’m going to actually ask after a couple minutes and you can keep going, but I’m going to ask these sisters to do the same up here with microphone and just sentences here and there and just for us to pray for you after you’ve had some time to pray together. So, all right, go for it. Just spend a couple minutes and then we’ll lead it to prayer. Does that make sense, guys? All right, so in just a minute.

Melissa Kruger: Father, we thank you for this time together. Lord, may we behold your glory, and may we believe and may we pass it on to the next generation.

Ann Voskamp: The Father, we know that you are a jealous God not to be trifled with that you long for all of our affections, all of our attention, all of the urgency in our hearts, Lord. So please, Lord stir our heart’s affections for you so that when we go home to our families. They see how you have our whole hearts and that that might ignite something in them through your spirit. We pray this in Jesus’ name, the only one who’s ever loved us to death and back to the realist life. Amen.

Emma Kruger: Thank you. We thank you for rescuing each of us. Thank you for saving the women in this room. Thank you that we get to come to this place where we get to behold you, Jesus. I pray for each of the women here. Would we all be people that are willing to say yes to you, that you are worth it, you are worthy of it? And I just pray that we would go home from this conference, living lives of just beholding your glory and walking in a manner worthy of it.

David: Jesus, we thank you for how you led the start of this conversation to focus on you as our hope. And we just say at the end of this time, we’re so glad you’re our hope. You are our hope. You are our strength. You are our peace. You are our life. We need you. We want you and we trust you. We trust you with our lives, families, our churches, children. We pray that you would help us to daily hold fast, to hope in you. I pray for the women in this room. I pray for deep rest in you, in your love for them, and in your love for kids that you’ve put on our hearts and you put in our lives, rest in your love for them. And we pray that by your power, Colossians 1:29, your energy is powerfully working within us. You would help us to hope in you and pass on hope in you to the next generation and to the nations who’ve not heard the good news of your love for them. We pray all this together in Jesus’ name and all God’s people said, “Amen.”

David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

Melissa Kruger

Melissa Kruger serves as vice president of discipleship programming at The Gospel Coalition. Her husband, Mike, is the president of Reformed Theological Seminary, and they have three children. She writes at Wits End, hosted by The Gospel Coalition.

Emma Kruger

Emma Kruger belongs to Summit Church and is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She enjoys reading, writing, soccer, and days at the beach.

Ann Voskamp

Ann Voskamp is a farmer’s wife, mama to seven, and four-time best-selling author of 10 books, including One Thousand Gifts and WayMaker. She has an MA in evangelism and leadership from Wheaton College and is pursuing her doctorate of ministry from Wheaton.


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