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Christian LivingFamily DiscipleshipParenting: Teens and BeyondPodcast

Dr. Richard Ross – Connecting with the Heart of Your Teen

By April 1, 2022May 4th, 2022No Comments

 

 

Watch the interview with Dr. Ross on YouTube.

Resources From This Podcast

Turning Hearts– Dr. Ross’s website
Jesus: The Reigning King, by Rob Rienow and Richard Ross
Reign: Awakening a Young Generation to King Jesus, by Richard Ross & Clayton Ross

Topics Covered In This Week’s Podcast

00:15 Introduction
02:15 Creating a heart connection with your teen
08:18 Keeping the heart connection healthy
17:15 The necessity of encouragement
29:07 The impact of Christ’s reign on the lives of teens

Episode Transcript

Chap: I’m Chap Bettis, and you’re listening to The Disciple-Making Parent, where we seek to equip parents and churches to pass the gospel to their children.

Do you have teens at home? If so, how’s it going? Would you say that your heart is connected to theirs? Would they say their heart is connected to yours? Hi, I’m Chap Bettis, author of The Disciple-Making Parent. And in today’s episode of the podcast, we’re going to talk with Dr. Richard Ross about two very important subjects.

The first is, how do we stay connected to the heart of our teen? What tends to destroy those connections? And second, how do we give our teen a vision for the glorious reign of Christ? 

I think you’re going to love this episode. It’s going to be well worth your time. Dr. Ross is the senior professor for student ministry at Southwestern Theological Seminary.

He’s written over 20 books aimed at student ministers and also teens. In addition, he’s ministered to students for over 50 years. And so you’ll be able to see his heart for teens in his experience. He’s married to Luana and they have one son. 

Before we start, though. I want to remind you that we give away the audiobook of The Disciple-Making Parent absolutely free.

It’s been endorsed by a number of Christian leaders, including Dr. Ross himself. So we would love to give you the audiobook. To receive the audio book, simply email us at audiobook@apollosproject.com. That’s audiobook@apollosproject.com And we’ll send out information about how you can get the audiobook for The Disciple-Making Parent. But for now let’s listen as Dr. Ross helps us connect with our teen. 

Well, it’s a delight to have on The Disciple-Making Parent podcast my guest, Dr. Richard Ross. Dr. Ross, thank you for joining me today. 

Dr. Ross: It’s a joy to be a part of the conversation. Absolutely. 

Chap: As I’ve gotten to know you, one of the things that it’s a joy to hear is how you and I are saying biblical themes using different words. And so today, I’d like to talk about the heart connection, which is a passion of yours, it’s just so clear in scripture. Before we started the podcast I was able to look at a video of a message where you addressed parents. So talk a little bit just about the heart as a pipeline: what you mean by that, how connections are so important. Then we can talk about problems later, but let’s just start with that concept.

Dr. Ross: Actually, some of this thinking goes back to the days when my own son was a teenager. I know people would think that was decades ago, but we had a hard time making babies. So we were married for 16 years before Clayton was born. So actually I was down the road in terms of thinking about families and parenting when he became a teenager. So when I was sharing with parents in different conferences, often I would take Clayton with me. And as I was trying to explain to people how the faith of Mom and Dad becomes important to their kids- the motif, the idea behind that- I just felt like there needed to be some kind of concrete analogy, some kind of concrete reality that parents would understand.

So I went to the Home Depot, my other religion, and I had the guys cut me a piece of pipe and I thought, Okay, we’re going to use this piece of pipe so that parents can really understand what I’m trying to communicate about a heart connection. So I would bring Clayton up on stage and I would get out this piece of pipe.

Now this will be a little awkward on a TV screen, but like this: What I would often do is I would put one end of that pipe against my heart. I would put the other end of that pipe against Clayton’s heart. Obviously he would be standing a foot and a half away from me, and then I could make the point.

Mom and Dad, if your faith is going to move easily to one of your kids, it’s got to pass through a conduit. It’s got to pass through a connection. And then, of course, everyone’s question was, Okay, then, what is that pipe? What does that represent? And of course, the pipe represents a relationship, the strength of a relationship, the warmth, the closeness, the intimacy of that relationship.

And I tell parents, No, it’s not important at this moment. It’s not important how you’re doing with child one and three or whatnot. Not so important how your spouse is doing with the kids in terms of your ability to be spiritually important to one of your kids. It’s your relationship with one of yours. And I just have found that to be an interesting and helpful reproducible concept. The reason I know that it sticks is, I go back to churches and speak a second time, often after having not been there for three years or four years or more years, and when I walk into a church or even a big conference that I’ve been at before, it is common that people walk up to me and they say, Hey, I don’t know your name, but you came here before and I remember you’re the guy with that white pipe, and I will even have parents say Since the day you were here talking about that pipe, walking around the house, I sometimes ask myself, I wonder how the pipe is doing with me and my daughter. I probably ought to give some more thought to the relationship right now.

So, it’s just a picture. It’s an image. It sticks in people’s minds. And I like to do everything with a strong biblical foundation and obviously an important verse for me is the last verse of the Old Testament. You would think before God goes silent for 400 years, the last thing in written scripture would be somewhat important. And of course, speaking of the Messianic age to come, the prophet says, “And he will turn the hearts of the parents toward their children. And he will turn the hearts of the children back to the parents.” Lots of Bible students would know that verse and they would know the importance of that verse, but I find lots fewer people that know the very first thing God says out loud in the New Testament is not in Bethlehem. The first thing God says out loud is to Zechariah in the Temple speaking through an angel. And God says through that angel nine seconds into his speech, the angel says, “And he will turn the hearts of the parents to the children.” Actually, it’s the very same phrase that the Old Testament ended with.

So it’s almost like your book ending this 400-year period with a prophet saying, hey, people, this is important. The connection between people’s hearts is going to matter. And I think it is. And with the pipe in mind, I clearly can show parents, Hey, if the pipe is in place, if the relationship is strong, I want to show you all the wonderful ways your faith is flowing to your kids.

But then I also say if that pipe has gotten pulled loose from your heart, if there is a disconnection, you may have a tremendous motivation to be important to your kids, especially spiritually. But not much hope of that taking place if the connection is not there. If there’s not something relationally that would cause one of your kids to want what’s inside of you.

So I find parents very motivated, very interested in either strengthening a heart connection that does exist today or repairing one that has gotten broken somewhere along the line.

Chap: I love that. My wife used the analogy with our kids of the pipe with the Lord and saying, “Are you keeping that connection clean?”

And so you’re using it horizontally, but it’s really the same thing. And that verse in Malachi talks about, what’s the effect of sin? The effect of sin is I as a parent turn my heart away after other things, ripping out that connection, and our kids can, as well. So I love that analogy. 

So what are some ways that we can make sure that we have that heart connection?

Dr. Ross: I basically speak to parents who are in the church. So that changes what I would say. if I was speaking to abusive parents or drug-addicted parents, I might raise other issues. But I think in the church, one area that is very problematic is discipline.  

Obviously parents in the church want their kids to grow up morally. They want them to have a lifestyle that’s consistent with scripture. So that’s a big deal to Christian parents. So discipline is important to them, but we all know that the way we are reared is like a MP3 in a slot in the back of our skulls. And our tendency is to just reproduce the parenting style we grew up under. So even a lot of well-meaning parents in the church, basically, they’re getting mad and hollering at their kids when they misbehave, because that’s exactly what a parent experienced when they were young.

It just feels natural to just get mad and say a lot of stuff and have a lot of drama. What I try to help parents understand, though, is that’s not getting them anywhere they want to be for a half a dozen different reasons. But on this specific issue of heart connection, if I’m hollering in a kid’s face, I’m cussing them out, I’m just making a scene, basically all that’s happening at that moment is I am pulling that pipe out of my chest. That really is what’s going on. And if you have a pipe that gets unstuck from your chest, it’s left in the heart of a teenager. There’s just nothing on the other end of it. So they’re not getting anything that they particularly need for life. So they’re gonna turn, probably subconsciously, and they’re going to give that pipe to some of their very closest friends. And as soon as they give the pipe to their closest friends, then those people get to feed what goes to the heart. And then we have all kinds of problems. 

So basically what I do in conferences is take Mom and Dad to Mount Sinai, the giving of the 10 Commandments. Jesus presents the law and says, Hey, here’s the law. And I’m gonna tell you about blessings or curses, good things or bad things. Good things if you obey me. Bad things if you disobey me. And I show parents how to very practically use that at home to say, Here are the rules. Here’s what you’ve got to do. Obey, and we’re going do some overtly nice things and say, Thank you. Disobey, and we’re going to do some really unpleasant things. But in the midst of all that, no drama. Nobody has to get mad. Nobody has to shout. So we might move through a period where we’re dealing with all kinds of behavior issues. A teenager might have an attitude for a while. They might be pushing back for a while. So yeah, all that’s hard, but if we’re protecting the heart connection, we come out on the other side and we still have the capacity to become important to that teenager, morally, spiritually, every other way.

Chap: That’s really good. This is why I did the video study, Parenting with Patience: Overcoming Anger, because I knew that this was my issue and I knew I was destroying the relationship when I would get upset. But what I found in my own life, the scary thing, was that sometimes it quote, unquote worked, in the sense of you’ve got compliance in the moment. But what you’re talking about is, you might get compliance in the moment, but you’re also ripping out that heart connection and James 1 says “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” So even if you get compliance, you’re not actually getting righteousness, as opposed to specifically what you’re saying, that way.

Talk a little bit: in this short clip of this video, very moving, you talked about just what an older teen might say to his father, just his perspective on a father who perhaps has to discipline him, but he knows he cares about him, he makes time for him as opposed to the one whose relationship has been ripped out.

Dr. Ross: Yeah, often with an audience, I will say, I’m going to pretend that I’m a high school boy. Let me just talk like a high school boy. And then I flip it and talk as if I’m another high school boy that has a right connection. And really, what I allow those two different characters to say- for the first one, I will say, “Hey, I’m a teenager. I do things that are wrong sometimes, but you know what, when I do something that’s wrong, my dad, he just gives me some punishment. He just does something to help me know I can’t be doing that again. But he doesn’t scream at me. He doesn’t raise his voice. He doesn’t cuss me. He just gives me my punishment and we’re right back to being friends again. I’m telling you, I love my dad.” 

When I’m doing the other teenager, I often will do it like this: I’ll say, “Okay. Okay. I’m not perfect. Sometimes I do some things that are, I’ll admit it, wrong, but you know what, when I do something that’s wrong, sometimes I wish my dad would just punish me. I would rather have a punishment than to have him screaming at me, making me feel like I’m about that tall. I’m telling you, I used to be close to my dad, but not anymore.” So I think that sort of helps parents see two sides of an issue, and it helps them to go inside the head of a teenager and look at all this from a teenager’s point of view.

Often- In fact, almost every Sunday- I’m in a different church and often at noon after lunch, I’ve got parents and teenagers sitting knee to knee across from each other for an hour. And as I have them sitting knee to knee discussing things, I often will invite them to talk about this whole issue of discipline. And I will say to the teenagers, “Hey, I don’t want to put words in your mouth. You need to be able to speak for yourself, but I just wonder. When you know you’ve done something wrong, what would you prefer? Tell your parent what would you prefer: Would you rather a clear-cut punishment, negative consequences, or would you rather parents jump around, lots of drama, lots of anger? What’s your preference? 

And I can’t sit in every single group to know everything that’s being said, but just looking around the room and watching some people, I know a lot of teenagers are saying We’ve got to not do so much drama. We’ve got to have less anger because as it makes me not want to be around you. It makes me want to stay in my bedroom all the time. It makes me not pay attention when you’re trying to tell me about instructions and things. Just punish me. Or, give me some motivation for doing things right. 

So the teenagers, I think they intuitively know this is not really helping us. And I think when church parents are looking for something very practical they can do that will move the needle at home related to heart connections, this is one thing parents can do almost immediately. To take a deep breath, figure out what are these issues that we’re bumping into the most? What are our perennial stressors? And then let’s just figure out, how do we move that to rewards, punishment, negative consequences, blessing? How do we do that? And I think almost instantly things get quieter in the house. And then over a period of weeks, I think parents can feel that relationship warming up. And all of a sudden a parent can say, Not only is this a nice warm relationship, but I can even tell I’m influencing that teenager more in a positive way. They’re listening to me more. I can see more of my faith reflected in them. That comes next, once the heart connection has been repaired. 

Chap: That’s great. So, basically, what you’re saying is, as parents- or the way I have been phrasing it, we are ruling over this little culture called our family. And, so now we have some disorder and we need to make some rules, just as God did at Mount Sinai. The blessings, how can we motivate our kids, but then also some consequences, and then not get upset when we say, Okay, our kids probably will mess up again. And they may not mess up for two weeks or three weeks, but then it’s going to happen. And when that happens, we are able to take a deep breath and pull out the rule book and say, Okay, this is what we said was going to happen. I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to have this consequence, but we’re going to do it

I was talking with a dad and he was saying that there has to be just- I don’t want to be misunderstood here- but a tiny, tiny bit of heartlessness in a parent who’s willing just to say, This is the consequence. I didn’t want you to lose the car for a week or whatever that consequence is. But inflicting as God does, Hebrew 12, just a little bit of that pain to train them for their good. That’s really helpful. And having really a zero tolerance policy for us as parents getting upset at home, to say we’ve got to deal with that. 

Do you have any more thoughts about how I as a parent can stay connected with my teen? Any other things that you would say?

Dr. Ross: Yes. Another major subject that I usually address with parents is the strength of their words to build up, encourage their kids. Obviously there’s nothing new about that. And so what I often will say to parents is, If I were to ask you, do Christian parents build up their kids, do Christian parents encourage their kids, do they use words? And I said, Of course. Every one of us would say yes. So my only role here today is to ask you, are you doing what you actually know to be good and right? That’s the question, are you doing it? And, to press the issue a little further, I will say, Middle-aged adults: we have brain cells dying by the day, but most of us can remember seven days. So just go back seven days between right now, and seven days ago. Can you recall looking one of your kids in the face and pointing out something specific, something that they’re doing that pleases you, some characteristic they have that you like and respect? Can you picture stopping long enough to say something very positive, something encouraging to each of your kids? And I give parents a few moments to reflect on that. And I see lots of unpleasant looks on people’s faces when they say I would’ve raised my hand to say that’s really important. It ought to be a part of every home. But when you press me to say in the last seven days when did I say something like that, I’m having a pretty hard time coming up with anything.

I have no need to be critical of parents. I actually think we just fall into routines. We are all moving fast these days. That is an absolute fact. We are moving fast. And having kids in the house is stressful. In the best of situations, having kids at home, there’s just a little underlying stress with that.

So if you have busy people that are a little bit stressed, once again, you just fall into habits. And I think parents just get in the habit of, Hey, pick that up, stop hitting your brother. Why can’t you be like your sister? And it’s just this nonstop litany, not horrible, not abusive. But it’s just pick, pick. And I’ve worked with teenagers for 50 years. I hear the other side of all of this from the teenagers. And sadly, some of them will say to me, Mr. Richard, I swear, I cannot please those people. They dog on me for something, and maybe I even improve that thing, but you know what? They’re not going to say anything about me improving that. They’re just going to jump to the other thing that they are not pleased with and they’re going to dog me on it. It never ever stops. And I know some of that is not just teenage exaggeration. In some cases, those kids are just getting little pieces of negative continually, and that doesn’t help on the heart connection.

In fact, to stay with that analogy. What I will say to the parents is, “Your words of encouragement are like super glue gluing your end of that pipe in place.” It just helps inoculate you from losing a heart connection. That’s human nature. We’re all that way. Even those of us that are adults. If somebody’s encouraging us, if somebody is blessing us and we’re drawn to that person – same thing with the teenagers. So I give parents hopefully some specific ways to remember. I need to be putting into words what will really encourage my kids. And I do gently remind some parents that the reason they don’t do this very much is because of the home they grew up in and maybe their mom and dad didn’t do well at this at all. And it wasn’t all lovey-dovey and it wasn’t all hugs and scrunch on the couch. And I will say to those parents: Just acknowledge you’ve got a hole in your heart, just acknowledge that you’ve missed some stuff that any child should have received, but decide that this ends with you. Who knows? Maybe that’s been going on for two or three generations, who knows. Just bravely decide it stops with me. Maybe I didn’t get what I needed when I was growing up, but it stops with me and I am going to consciously choose to build my kids up.

And I tell them, if it’s hard for you to say words on the very front end, write the kids notes, or today social media, or putting a note on their mirror. Just let them know that they’re a big deal to you and that you see good in them. And what you’re going to discover is that that pipe is getting stronger and stronger. And once again, your faith moves through that more easily.

Chap: That’s great. That’s great. I heard somebody once say, “Do you want to know how you can tell if a person needs encouragement?” And the answer is they’re breathing. And anybody breathing wants encouragement. To “put courage into.”

If you’ve got a parent of a prodigal or rebellious teen living in the home, and it is just very difficult, how do you do that? Are you just looking for some good things? How would you do that when you got a child who’s really pushing the limits?

Dr. Ross: I say to parents what you just said. When you’ve got a teenager that’s in a funk and they’re going through a hard period and they’re pressing you on every turn, you just have to very creatively sit around and say, Can I think of anything that’s a positive right here? And, even if you can’t think of a behavior, something overt, just tell the kid that he or she is important to you, just because they’re your child. Just say You’re important to me. There’s nothing on earth you can do that would make me love you less. I care about you. I love being your mother, at least on our good days. If you can’t pull out specifics, just bless the person. But they need to hear it. They just flat need to hear it. 

When I was 13, my face was covered with the worst acne. Literally totally red. You can tell by the scars. Very skinny. Socially inept. And I really look back and think about the way my mother was blessing me and encouraging me during those days. I think I could have turned into a royal mess emotionally in middle school and high school. Really shriveled up in a corner somewhere. And I think her encouragement was a major factor in me trying to move out and engage in life and the fact that I’ve ended up, in some ways, doing a lot of public things- one time preaching to 800,000 people, writing all the books. I really think a lot of that, you have to have a cheerleader. You have to have somebody that believes in you. You have to have somebody that says You can do this. I see good in you. And so for any parents listening to today, the question is where will your child will grow up in maybe in five years or even 10 years, and you already see them prospering and flourishing in some ways. And really, even in their minds, they can go back to say, my dad kept telling me, my mom kept saying to me and they can track out that encouragement was helpful.

Chap: Wow. that’s really good. And really, it seems like there’s almost three categories: so there’s discouraging words, there’s nitpicking. But then there’s also just silence. And you’re over here saying, Put encouraging things into their mind, especially your love for them.

I just thought about it as you were talking then. Really, we’re talking about two themes that I like to talk about: authority and affection. Parenting is authority and affection. So you’ve just said rules, discipline- even in the teen years, consequences, and building up. So you’re not saying one or the other- Just build them up, no consequences, no matter what. But you’re saying both at the same time. So that’s a really good exhortation and applies to spouses as well in terms of just encouraging each other, as well.

Dr. Ross: Actually, you and I obviously speak and teach on this theme, but I would say to the parents, this is almost universally an important theme to those who are training parents and speaking on family life from a biblical point of view. Kids can handle high structure as long as there is high warmth and affection. Everybody knows that studies young people carefully. It’s not a problem for parents to have whatever you want to call it – standards, rules, policy. The structure is actually good. And the culture’s collapsing so fast that parents are going to have to think carefully about, Okay, where are the boundaries? How are we going to define that? But kids do fine with that. If we’re implementing it with consequences rather than anger. And if, alongside all of that work we’re doing to keep them inside the structure, we’re also being affectionate toward them- we’re loving them, we’re building them up- you put those two things side by side, and you’re going to get some great-looking young adults that are going to live wonderful lives and help change the world.

Chap: Wow. That’s great. Let’s just change gears a little bit. And, I know from following you on Twitter that a big theme of yours is the reign of Christ and the impact of that with teens. And I know you’ve also written the Bible study, Reign: Awakening a Young Generation to King Jesus. Talk a little bit about that and why you think that’s so important for teens.

Dr. Ross: This theme has actually become important to me. And I’m embarrassed to say it was only in about 2008 that I really started studying scripture carefully and really began in my own heart, my own life, seeing Jesus a different way. The reason why this matters in a conversation about parents and faith families is because the pipe in place is a good thing. Obviously. It’s foundational. But it begs the question. If you have a heart connection with your teenager, what do you have as a parent to put in the pipe? We haven’t even addressed that at all. What do I have to offer my teenager that would be important to them spiritually? 

Now this is a big deal. It’s even a practical deal. Because of the statistics, we know about half of the kids that grow up in church are going to wander away from the faith and about half are going to stay around. Everybody knows that. So it’s a practical question for a parent to consider: Which half is my child going to be a part of? Are they going to love Jesus and be active in church? Or are they going to drift away? Am I going to call my adult children when they’re 35 and discover  I’m waking them up on Sunday at noon? Which means they’re not taking my grandkids to church, which means my grandkids may not ever make it to heaven?

It’s a big deal. I do think it’s important to talk about the faith of Mom and Dad, because once the pipe is in place, then that becomes the focus of What do I have to give my kids?  I guess to explain best what the kids need, I need to do it from a teenager’s point of view. So let me just say it this way: When I’m ready to speak on some big stage or platform, and they’ve invited teenagers to be on the platform and to give a testimony, this is so common right now, a teenager will walk up to a microphone and say very sincerely. I love Jesus. He’s always there for me. On the surface, that’s not too bad. I love Jesus. But notice the emphasis. He’s always there for me. I love Jesus because he makes my life better. I love Jesus because he makes my life more prosperous and he helps me out. So if I am talking to a big convention center full of teenagers, sometimes I will even say. “Hey, I wonder if that view of Jesus really exists for me, I wonder if that’s like little Jesus in my pocket.” And at that point I pull out a little two-inch plastic Jesus, and I’ll say, “Could this be your Jesus? He’s almost like a mascot. He’s almost like a little friend. You might even say you love your Jesus, but since he’s little, he can stay in your pocket to be mostly not relevant to your everyday life until you need him again. So on prom night, guys, you can take a little Jesus, push him way down in your tux pocket, because you don’t intend for him to have anything to say about what you planned for your girlfriend later that night. But two weeks later, they tell you that your mother’s got cancer, that’s a big deal. So out comes little Jesus. But when the cancer’s in remission, little Jesus goes back in the pocket to not be relevant.” So the teenagers, actually, they grasp that really quickly, and conference after conference, the teenagers come to me during break saying, number one, “You are so on target you wouldn’t even believe it.” And number two, “We’ve gotta talk about what am I supposed to have other than a little mascot Jesus?“

So teaching that is the antidote in my mind. The total 180-degree, different-from-little-mascot Jesus is Jesus son of God, reigning on the throne of heaven. And the way I lead parents to grasp that is the same way that I lead teenagers to grasp that. I take people in the New Testament, to that 40th day after resurrection. Jesus is on the Mount of Olives. He bids farewell to his followers and that resurrected body starts going up, up, into the sky. And I ask parents all over the United States. “Okay, did Jesus go through the clouds?” Everybody says yes. And then I say, “And what happened to Jesus immediately after he went through the clouds?” And nobody knows. What actually happened was he walked back in the front gate of heaven. He approached his Father and his Father stood up and his Father said, Son, be enthroned at my right hand. And I will make your enemies a footstool for your feet. I will put the scepter of all authority in your hand. So what Jesus began that day is reigning over the universe, king of Kings, Lord of lords. He can’t possibly be a two inch plastic Jesus because he is the king over everything.” And what I help parents, and then separately teenagers, often do is go Genesis to Revelation, literally Genesis to Revelation and see the whole testimony of scripture either foretelling Jesus who will reign on the throne of heaven, or once he was there, reporting that his glory is beyond all understanding. 

So with the teenagers, what that means is they’ve got to rethink everything. If Jesus really is king over my life, if I do everything for his glory- here’s the, kicker- if I exist for him, rather than him exist for me, their little computers have to rethink so many things because they’ve got to get underneath that kingly reign of Jesus. And they’ve got to begin to adore him as someone that is grand and powerful and majestic. Not, I sit crosslegged in my bed before school every morning and I talk to my little friend and tell him my troubles. It’s just different from that. So what I finally figured out is, if Mom and Dad are the most important spiritual influences on their kids and if they have a pipe in place and if the kids need a brand new view of Jesus, then it’s a really big deal where their parents see Jesus as king over their lives as well. And, so when I’m in parenting conferences and whatnot, I will usually spend a little bit of time talking about Mom and Dad and their walk with Jesus. In fact, I’ll even ask them, “Was there ever a time in your whole Christian life that you were closer to Christ than you are to date? What happened? How come today you would say I’m feeling more distant from him, my heart is cooler than it used to be?” And so we talk about that and then I just say “Anybody here that would like to rediscover your first love in Jesus? Do you want to come back to that first love? A wonderful way to come back to that first love is to grasp who Jesus really is today. And then to begin to worship him that way, speak to him that way, communicate with him that way, get underneath him that way.”

And, what I discover is when parents have an awakening to Jesus in their own lives, if they have a relationship with their kids, then that parental awakening splashes on the kids and good things happen in their lives. So often when teenagers are having some big something for the weekend, so often now I’m called to speak to the parents parallel with that big youth event. And the whole point is instead of having teenagers come home after that event and parents standing there with cold water to throw on the flame, now we’re going to try to throw gasoline on the flame because Mom and Dad are just as awakened about their relationship with Christ as the kids and so together, pretty well wonderful things can happen in that house.

Anyway, it is just a teaching. At the seminary, we would call it a high Christology. It’s just a biblically correct, but also wonderfully inspiring way of seeing Jesus that I think parents really need to embrace deeply into their own lives. 

Chap: Oh, man. I was getting chills as you were talking about it.I agree a hundred percent and just was thinking, so many times I think the Christian life that’s getting communicated in the teen years is Read your Bible, don’t do drugs, go to church. And, and so you’ve thought about it from the teen’s perspective, in terms of thinking about, Jesus fits into my pocket here, but there’s so much we get to go expand the kingdom, participate in the expansion of the kingdom, kick the devil’s rear end. There’s an excitement to enthroning Christ, knowing that he is enthroned, but then also in our heart as well. So that’s just really powerful teaching. 

I think that’s just a great antidote to therapeutic moralism. Just this idea that Jesus is to heal me and help me, which he does. He does, but that’s not the full Christology. So thank you. Thank you, man. This has been so helpful in many ways. I just feel like you’ve deepened my understanding of some themes I’ve thought of, some may have not, but you’ve deepened my understanding, and I think it’s going to be really helpful for parents seeking to pass the gospel to their children.

So if parents would like to find out more about you, what’s the best way?

Dr. Ross: I do have a website. It is richardaross.com. If you leave the a out, you’re gonna get a guy that’s going to really confuse you. So richardaross.com and there are quick links there for Twitter and for Facebook. I post every morning and a whole lot of those posts are directed toward parents of teenagers. So anybody that would find that interesting, I would love to have them connected. 

Chap: Thank you. Thank you again, him for taking the time.

Dr. Ross: It’s been a joy. Your book on our campus is a big deal and you are a big deal to my students. And it’s wonderful to get to connect with you this particular way.