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Seventeen years ago, when Britton was just one year old, his parents joined the Advanced Training Institute International (ATI), a home education program. Today he is growing in his love for the Lord and developing personal skills through ministry at the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) Headquarters. His older brother, Shane, has been serving in Australia, and his sixteen-year-old brother, Blake, also loves the Lord and enjoyed serving the pensioner teachers in Russia in December 2005.
When Britton was asked what his parents did to keep his focus on the Lord, he had a rapid-fire answer: “We take every opportunity, including working together, to not only have fun but to build our relationship as a family. Our dad is our example. He gets up early every morning and reads his Bible. Our parents also make sure we have our daily quiet time! We know Dad loves the Lord and us.” Later Britton mentioned another factor that was the key to his parents’ success. He said, “My dad takes time to listen to us!”
When we talked to Britton’s father, he stated, “I have learned that listening to my sons is the key to keeping their hearts. However, this is the hardest thing I have to do. I did not realize how important this was until I heard George Keller’s testimony at last year’s Regional ATI Conference.”
George Keller’s son lived a double life as both an obedient son and the nation’s worst arsonist. He is in prison for life. “George Keller made one statement that impacted my life: ‘Hugging your son is fine, but asking questions is better!’ ”
Matt Felber has taken each son through the questions that were taught in a fathers’ session on parent-teen bonding last summer at the ATI Conferences. Matt emphatically stated, “Each son has personally thanked me for the time I have spent doing this.”
Matt’s present success with his sons has not been achieved without challenges, the biggest of which was learning to fully listen. “My wife, Lori, has taught me that this is achieved by ‘listening with my heart to their hearts’—or ‘waiting to hear what may come after what I perceive to be the ‘final statement.’ ”
“Our natural response is to love someone who not only listens to us but also really tries to understand us. We find it easy to go back to that person and share more. David said, ‘I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live’ (Psalm 116:1–2). My heavenly Father’s example in Psalm 28 is that before I can ‘help, bless, provide for, or encourage my sons,’ I not only must hear them; I must also hear their hearts.”
Matt is now working with other men in a local discipleship group. He is teaching them how to use questions to bond with their teens. God has been blessing these men with encouraging results.
Information produces understanding, and understanding creates fellowship, because we are able to walk in the light of openness.
Have you discussed with your teenagers basic questions such as these?
Get alone, listen carefully, take notes, and design projects to meet their basic needs.
A respected businessman and leader in the church, George Keller was shocked when he learned that his son was living a double life as a serial arsonist. You will be challenged as you listen to his gripping testimony and hear about lessons he learned. Order a copy of this message at store.iblp.org.
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