This is the eighth and final installment of our amazing interview with Matt Clinton of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Parents – you are more of a model for your kids than you’ll ever know! Matt gives some great practical advice on how to help them set boundaries by actually setting boundaries for yourself.
Matt Clinton, Fellowship of Christian Athletes: My daughter, who is only 18-months-old, can already work an iPhone. She already knows how to swipe through the pictures on her favorite app and scroll to what she wants to see. So, I’ve never been more aware of how much time I spend on my phone until I saw my own child just doing what I always do. I’m not saying that what I do on my phone is wrong – most of the time, I’m simply scrolling through the news or a book or something. But, when my son comes along and grabs my phone out of my hand because he wants to hang out with me, it’s a sign that my “news-scrolling” is taking up too much time.
Then, when you watch your own kids model your behavior back to you, it’s very revealing.
When they see dad working twelve hours a day, they think that is how normal parenting is done. When they see mom on social media all the time, they think that being on social media all the time is what older people do, and they set their own lives in that direction.
Now, I know that I’m stereotyping with both of these examples, but you can insert whatever behavior you want in there, and then think, “What message am I sending to my kids and do I want them to model this behavior?”
I’ve noticed this to the point where I’ll turn my ringer off at home and place it face down in a different room, and try to BE with my family. Of course, there are times when I’m practically getting the detox shakes by not having my phone on me, but it’s a lesson I’m willing to learn in order to teach it to my kids – we need to be with the people we are with.
Parents – here’s a fun game when you go out to dinner: Everyone puts their phones in the middle of the table and set them all to silently vibrate, so that every time a text comes in or someone gets a notification, the pile of phones buzzes. The first person to grab their phone because they can’t handle it anymore pays for the meal!
It’s a fun game and it absolutely freaks out high school kids! Notifications make them twitch. It makes you wonder: Are you ok with not knowing what is going on with everyone everywhere all the time?
I remember a time when I was in grad school. Class got out and a bunch of us were walking out together toward the parking lot. There was almost a couple dozen of us together, but we all instantly started checking our phones as we walked… all of us except one of my friends. Instead, he got all of our attention:
“Here we are surrounded by people and we want to talk to people who we are not surrounded by.”
Yeah… in one sentence he pretty much summed up our culture. And that’s the pressure teens are under all day, every day. They feel like they can’t miss a single post. If they take longer than a few minutes to respond to a text, they must be angry at the other person. Denying someone their instant gratification is a foreign thought to kids today.
Leslie Salazar Carrillo, Im Waiting: Gut check! Just now, when we first started this interview, my phone was buzzing and I had to check the incoming texts… even while you were speaking to me! I’m so sorry.
As we wrap up, how can people help you and the team at Fellowship of Christian Athletes?
Matt: Every ministry has too many needs. For starters, just check out what we do. Go to our website and click around. Learn about us. Pray for wisdom. We know that often our time is very short when we are on high school campuses, so we need to spend our time wisely.
Then, if you’re up for it, come and spend some time with us on campus. I promise, it’ll be an impactful 30 minutes. And, bring pizza! It’s amazing how teens will simply follow anyone with free pizza.
Kids will hear about Jesus… and with pizza, even more kids will come and hear!
You see, we’re no different than any other ministry out there. Going to high schoolers in their own environment is our lane and we love doing it.
We use the influence of coaches and athletes to share the Gospel. This can look differently on different days at different schools. It could be a Bible study, or an outreach event, or a partnership event like the ones we have with Pregnancy Resource Center. But, if you can make the time to come and see a lunch meeting, you’ll see the reality of where and how today’s kids live.
I’ve regularly seen high-powered adults who broker million-dollar deals on a weekly basis get the sweats when they step foot on a high school campus. Just walking the halls takes them right back to when they were 16, along with all the insecurities and anxieties they felt back then. It’s a great moment when you realize what your teens face every day.
Leslie: Not everybody is called to work with kids. In fact, most of us who do are simply crazy. Because teenagers are brutally honest. But we are called to prayer.
So, pray for those of us who are working to reach the next generation with God’s word.
We’ve heard so many heart-wrenching stories, and there are days where we wonder if we can continue on any more.
But, the truth is that we love these kids with a love that surpasses all understanding.
We want a revival to start here in America, and I think that today’s teens will be the ones to obediently bring it on. It may not look like what we expect because the times change. But, while times change, people don’t.
We need to encourage our kids to be faithful, brave and strong and walk hard after the Lord. They are the 1 Peter 2:9 generation:
…you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Matt: I’m reminded every day that I pray a certain way and I expect certain things. That’s just how so many of us are wired. But, I also pray that God will show up in ways that I don’t expect.
2,000 years ago, so many people missed Jesus because He didn’t match their expectations. I don’t want to miss being a part of this generation and the revival that may come because of my own expectations.
One small example is when God shows me time after time a kid who I wouldn’t naturally pick as a great leader, yet they go on to make a huge impact for God’s kingdom on their campus. Each time I see this, God humbles me again, reminding me that it’s not my plan, but His at work.
We simply need to stand alongside today’s teens and encourage them.
Leslie: Leave a legacy of how you disciple and impact kids. Walk with them, cry with them, and then dust them off and send them off again.
Working with kids costs a lot. It does come at a certain sacrifice, whether it be in your income, your family, or your social life.
So, count the cost. And know that, if you are obediently serving God, the devil knows that if he can’t get to you then he’ll go after your family.
Pray for Matt, his family and the guys at FCA because they are doing a mighty work for God!
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this interview with Matt Clinton. We are always blessed when we hear about what he is doing with the next generation through Fellowship of Christian Athletes. His wisdom and compassion pour through his words. If you’d like more information about what Matt and the team at FCA are doing, simply check out SanDiegoFCA.org.