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6 Things Over Time Every Kid Needs


“What you do this week matters.”

Last week, we set up this conversation to look at how we can better navigate this thing called life. While we can’t be prepared for everything (and this is actually a gift!), we can take a look at how we strategically invest in our sons or daughters over time to make an impact.  (Read last week’s post, Prepare to Be Unprepared here.)

As mentioned, the basic idea stems from a number and a scripture:

From the time a child is born you have 936 weeks until they graduate high school.

“Teach us to number our days, so that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Ps 90:12

What we do over time cultivates what matters in the hearts of our children.

Whatever matters, will matter more over time.

Orange identified 6 things we can strategically focus on over time to influence and cultivate the hearts of our children. I’ll briefly outline the concept and then highlight a key habit to help us along the way.


It takes TIME over TIME to make a history worth repeating.

Habit: Visualize Time.
Imagine if you put 936 marbles in a jar the day your child is born.
Now imagine that each week you take one out.

How might this affect the way you parent your child?

On the one hand, you will realize time matters and you only have so much time to work with. If you kids is 9 years old, you will realize you’ve already lost half your marbles!

On the other hand, you realize that you have a significant amount of time to influence your child and you might just get excited about how you can do that this week! It takes the pressure off everything happening in a moment!

“When you see how much TIME you have left, you tend to do more with the TIME you have now.”


Love over time is the one thing that matters most.

Habit:  Prove it!
“It’s really pretty simple.  When we show up and make rules, we prove to them we care.  When they break the rules and we show up anyway, we prove to them we still care.  We prove to them they have worth, and we are committed to them even when it’s difficult, inconvenient, and messy.”

There are days we don’t really like our kids.  Days we don’t want to wade into the mess.  Love over time shows them their self-worth.  It helps them understand a God of unconditional love.  It invites them to love others.  If you do nothing else, show your kids you love them over time.


WORDS over TIME can impact someone’s direction in life.

Habit:  Expand your vocabulary.
A few words can make a big difference in the direction of someone’s life.

I’ve seen people who do this well – when they speak, their words give life.  Has your teen tuned you out?  Maybe it’s time to change the language and expand your vocabulary, but don’t doubt that your words have power.

When’s the last time your really encouraged your son or daughter.  Try one of these this week – I remember when…, I have noticed…, I hope you know…, I’m really glad…., I’ve been thinking…


STORIES over TIME move us to imagine a world beyond ourselves.

Habit:  Amplify the story.
“Every week, you have an opportunity to tell the story to the next generation in a way that will captivate their imagination and move them not only to fall in love with the story itself, but to fall in love with the God who created the story and who was has invited them to be a part of it.”

What stories are you telling?  What stories are you creating?  What stories are worth re-telling?  Just like a great movie, you have the opportunity over time to invite your kids into God’s larger story!


TRIBES over TIME show us how we belong.

Habit:  Go in Circles.
“If kids need to connect in tribes (community) over time in order to understand how they belong, we as parents need to be intentional about how we create circles that will make them feel like they are part of a tribe.”

We all have heard the benefits of eating a meal together.  Well, here it is again.  Eat a meal as a family.  Invite key people over for meals.  Enjoy and help them experience the richness of community.


FUN over TIME makes a friendship go deeper.

Habit:  Make it Fun.
“You show them you care when you allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to just have fun.  So loosen up.”

“The joy of the Lord is your strength.”  There really is a lot packed into that little scripture.  Go have some fun this week!


Now, that you’ve heard these six concepts, what key concepts are you already doing well?
Do you see how this isn’t now or never, but you can build something over time?

How does this change your perspective on how you parent this week?

Want to further explore these ideas, here’s the book to help:  Playing for Keeps: 6 Things Every Kid Needs

You’re Losing Your Marbles!

Playing For Keeps from Orange on Vimeo.

One thing you will find out as you follow this blog, is that I love the folks over at Orange ( &!  There are many things we could take away from this video, but one of the things that influenced me most was attending a conference with Reggie Joiner (the guy in the video) years ago and realizing how limited I am in influencing the next generation.    In fact as Reggie mentions in the video, as a youth pastor, I have 40 hours a year to influence a student in a given year!  40 hours!

Let me back up a bit, I’ve been in vocational ministry for around a decade working with youth.  Early on in my career, I watched several youth pastors come and go in student’s lives.  Some say the average life of a youth pastor is 18 months.  More recently, I’ve seen 2 – 3 years.  Better, but not that much better.

At the same time, I was noticing and hearing from many parents that spiritual conversations with their kids were virtually nonexistent.  As I explored why, I found that many parents had completely outsourced the spiritual formation of their children to the church!  The church is certainly better than some other options, but ultimately the church (and the youth pastor) will fail at this task.

Again, if I’m lucky I have 40 hours in a given students life each year.  But there is no way I can do this for more than a handful of students.  So what about all the others that come through our door?  At the church where I serve, we believe that we must be reproducing ourselves by recruiting, developing, and equipping lay leaders.  If not, our ministry will be severely limited.  But even so, we are still limited!

This is why I’m so excited about this blog.  Just a chance to have an audience with the folks who have the greatest opportunity to influence their child’s life.  That’s YOU!

If you haven’t already, watch the video above.  I hope this video encourages and challenges you.  If you’ve “outsourced” your child’s spiritual formation to the church or a specific youth pastor, I hope you bring it back home.  I hope that as we realize how much time we have left, we become more intentional with the time we have!

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”

Psalm 90:12

So, how many marbles do you have left? 

How does knowing that number help you get wise about the days you have left? 

(Ok, it may produce a bit of anxiety as well, but sometimes anxiety is the thing that gets us to move from point a to point b.  Not all anxiety is a bad thing!  (here’s a great post if anxiety is something you struggle with  I should mention, anxiety is not something I’ve struggled with on a larger scale, but on this specific topic, I feel like a little anxiety might just be what we need.)

Also, here’s a link to the book Reggie and his team put together on this idea: Playing for Keeps/Losing Your Marbles

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