How My Parents Got There First | Christ Fellowship Church
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How My Parents Got There First

3 ways you can help the next generation.

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Tyler Gay

February 9, 2024

I grew up playing soccer just about every day of my life. I learned a lot of life lessons, like how to win big and respond after a bad loss, train hard, and receive public correction. But when I think back to my childhood and teenage years, most of who I am today is a result of the intentional investment my parents made into my life. And, from my point of view as a parent of two boys myself, they got exceptionally more right than they did wrong, and for that, I am so grateful.

In this new season that Pastors Todd and Julie have pioneered us into to “Get There First,” they’ve reminded us, "In the race to the heart of the next generation, the first one there wins!” So, we’ve got work to do for the next-gen, and personally, I’m all in!

As I look back on my life, I have no doubts about it—my parents got there first. My dad was a teacher, and my mom was a nurse who simply loved Jesus, their local church, and their three boys. To get there first, we need more people living on mission for Jesus deployed into all spheres of influence. I believe they stepped up to the call to get there first in the 90s and decades thereafter. 

Here are three ways they got there first with me then—that you can get there first with the next-gen now:

1. They gave me a foundation to build my faith

I invited Jesus to be the Lord of my life at six years old. As I think about it 24 years later, I owe much of this to the environments my parents curated for me and my brothers. 

Some of my earliest memories are being in church for Sunday night services. I don’t remember a single sermon or song, but what I do remember was watching Mom and Dad kneeling at the altar seeking Jesus, often with tears. Proximity and place can be powerful. 

These were the moments I remember feeling marked by the Holy Spirit, sensing His hand on my life even at six years old. It was common for me to wake up to my mom kneeling and praying over my bedside at 3 in the morning. Daily Bible reading was a priority. I knew the stories because they would read them to me every night. We would pray most nights before family dinners, bedtime, and long car rides—it was just what we did. 

They even let me hang with them in their adult Sunday school classes and ask questions as a 7-year-old when I got annoyed with kids my own age. They gave me a leg-up, a springboard, and a foundation to see what serving Jesus looks like in everyday, ordinary life. It certainly was an “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” kind of home. They gave me a foundation to build my faith.

2. They gave me a seat at the table to voice my opinions

Growing up, we had family dinners around the kitchen table almost every night of the week. As I got into high school, this became more complicated with sports schedules, but it was still a priority. More than a “high/low” of your day conversation, these became invitations to speak into family matters. I didn’t always need to be asked (that’s just kind of how I am), but I knew it was safe to contribute. Whether or not they took my idea, I always knew I had the freedom to share. 

This gave me the confidence to speak up at school, soccer practice, or friends' houses. Anything from “What do we want to do for Christmas this year?” or “What movie should we watch this weekend?” I never felt that my voice didn’t matter. They gave me a seat at the table to voice my opinion.

3. They gave me a safe space to ask the hard questions

I remember the summer I was entering 6th grade. I was excited to leave the small private school and attend the public school with friends from soccer. What’s crazy is that I can still vividly remember being in the car with my dad as he began to prepare me for things I would experience, hear, and maybe see at this school that I hadn’t at the previous one. 

He talked about things like how to guard my eyes, conduct myself, and be the same person in public as I am in private—he got there first. The school system didn’t beat my parents to the conversation around sex, identity, or any of the other things. My parents made it easy for me to bring awkward subjects and questions from school or things I heard friends say. I trusted them more than I trusted my friends. 

They were the biggest influence in my life, which made thriving in a public school system very easy. I wasn’t wondering who I was because they affirmed who I was in Christ daily. They gave me a safe space to ask the hard questions.

It’s 2024, and the next generation still needs us to help give them this same foundation.

  1. A foundation to build their faith. You can point them to Jesus in everything you do!
  2. A voice at the table to share their opinions. This will build trust to ask tough questions!
  3. A safe space to ask the hard questions. You don’t have to know all the answers!

You can Get There First! Remember, God goes with you!