FamilyLife Today®

Abiding in Hope

with Drew Hill | March 27, 2019
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Drew Hill addresses what parents can do when they are disappointed in their children. There are many things that can trip up our kids, which is why parents need to be proactive in talking with their kids.
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Drew Hill addresses what parents can do when they are disappointed in their children. There are many things that can trip up our kids, which is why parents need to be proactive in talking with their kids.

Abiding in Hope

With Drew Hill
March 27, 2019
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Bob: Many of us are exposing our children to the Bible and teaching them what God’s Word has to say about how people in the past interacted with God. Drew Hill says we need to make sure our children understand God’s work, in the present, in our own lives.

Drew: What we’ve got to do is—we’ve got to put those stories on the mantel of our homes. We’ve got to show kids, “This is what God’s done in my own life.” That’s going to require us telling them some of the backstory. We, as parents, have to unveil some of the ugliness in our life and say: “This is who I was,” and “This is what God’s done.” But so often, we want to fix kids instead of walk alongside them and share our journey with our kids.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, March 27th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. Do your children know your testimony? Do they know about some of the hard moments in your life and how God has turned your ashes into beauty? We’re going to talk more about that today with Drew Hill. Stay with us.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. As you think about kids, who are in the youth group at the church where you guys are, how many of those kids would you think are one foot in the youth group and one foot out of the youth group?

Dave: Well, I’ll tell you this, Bob—the last time I spoke at our high school youth group was two weeks ago.

Bob: And how many kids would be there?

Dave: There were a couple of hundred kids, probably, in that campus. I was speaking at one of our campuses. I was five minutes into the message, and a banana flew right past my head—trying to hit my head—[Laughter]—and I didn’t even know what it was. I thought, “What’s going on?”—I see; I turn; and it just whizzes by, and then I see some youth leaders grabbing this kid who, obviously, didn’t like me or something. But I thought—

Bob: He’s throwing bananas at you?

Dave: Throwing bananas at me.

Drew: He’s supposed to throw tomatoes; right? [Laughter]

Dave: Yes; I’m glad he didn’t have good aim. I thought, “I don’t know what he’s going to do.” I almost said—yes; I did say, “Hey, when I find out who that was, I’m coming after you.” [Laughter] But it just reminded me: “Who’s in the room?” You have people all in; all out. I mean, he’s probably there because his parents are making him go there—and the pastor’s in there, talking—I thought, “Man, what a journey they’re on.”

Bob: I’m thinking, “Even the kids, who are growing up in good homes—

Dave: Right.

Bob: —“who are going to—you know, they’re homeschooled or they’re going to Christian schools, and their family’s doing devotions—I’m wondering, ‘How many of those kids are thinking, “Yes; I’m not so sure about all of this”?’”

Dave: Well, this kid—I talked to his parents.

Bob: Yes?

Dave: They came up to me, a week later, and said, “It was my son.” They’re unbelievable parents—unbelievable home. They’re doing everything right, and there he is.

Bob: Yes.

Ann: I think our kids were half in/half out, at that point. They were really trying to discover who they were.

Bob: That’s a scary place for a mom and a dad to be; isn’t it?

Dave: It is.

Ann: It’s horrible, but we also know that that’s pretty normal. Dave and I were at the same place when we were in high school.

Dave: Yes; I look back, honestly, and think some of the bad mistakes I made in high school shaped me into the man I am today. I regret them in some ways, but I’m also grateful that they were in my life to learn. I don’t want my kids to miss that. In a sense, I want to be alongside them to help them walk through those.

Bob: That’s the beauty-from-ashes principle that the Bible talks about. God can redeem our mistakes and use them for His glory.

Talking about being alongside—that’s what we’re talking about, this week, with our guest, Drew Hill, who joins us again. Drew, welcome back.

Drew: Thank you for having me.

Bob: Drew is a pastor in Greensboro, North Carolina—works with Young Life® students there—a great ministry to high school and college-age students. He and Natalie have been married for 14 years. They have three kids: Honey, Hutch, and Macy Heart.

We’ve been talking about Loving Teenagers with the Gospel, which is the subtitle of the book, Alongside. Your message to parents is that we’re on a journey with our kids and we’ve got to be, right there, next to them.

Drew: That’s right. We’ve got to first understand that we have a God who walks alongside of us, and that we are not too far away from His grasp. We cannot mess up parenting enough for God to be disappointed at us. God is not shaking His finger at you, saying: “You are a failure. You have messed up.” But God wants to come alongside you and walk with you, as you parent your kids, because it is too hard of a job for you to do it alone.

Bob: I was talking to a mom, this weekend, and she said, “My husband is so frustrated.” She said, “We’re not in agreement on our parenting/on how we should do things. But he’s so frustrated, because our kids aren’t getting it—they’re not changing.” They’ve got a three-year-old; and I said—

Dave: A three-year-old? [Laughter]

Ann: Wait; they’re speaking about the three-year-old?

Bob: They’re talking about the three-year-old, who is not getting it; and you discipline, and the child continues to misbehave.

Dave: My kids never did that. [Laughter]

Bob: I said: “Your husband has a very unrealistic picture of what parenting is going to be like. You’re going to be in this roller coaster for the next 15 or more years with this child.

Dave: —a lifetime.

Bob: That’s right. “So get ready for the fact that some days are going to be up, and some days are going to be down,” and “All the training that you need to keep doing with your child—you just stay after it—but don’t have the unrealistic expectation you’re going to come home one day and go, ‘Oh, they finally got it,’ and they don’t misbehave anymore.”

Ann: And let’s be for real: “Who’s really in training?—it’s the parents. [Laughter] I’ve learned more in parenting than I have in anything else—probably more than—I didn’t give my kids as much as what they’ve given me, and God’s taught me through them.

Bob: Drew, at the conclusion of your book, Alongside, you say to parents: “This is going to be, not just a trip to the grocery store and back, this is a long road trip you’re on with your kids.”

Drew: It’s a long road home; yes. The last chapter of the book is just entitled “Slow”; because we live in a culture that wants things to change immediately. We want something, and we want it now—we want to order something on Amazon and it be at our house the next day or the same day, if you have drone service. [Laughter] You know, we want our food immediately. We are an immediate-gratification culture right now.

That has, honestly, hampered our parenting; because we want to see that change happen even quicker in our kids. And yet, it is a long, long journey; and it’s often discouraging. But I would just encourage you, who are listening today, to think about how long your journey has been, as a child of God, and how patient God has been with you; because I sure thought I was going to be further along in my journey with the Lord, at age 40, than I am right now. I mean, I can look back, and I can see how God has changed me and transformed me; but I honestly thought, “Man, I’m going to be way more of—I’m going to have a lot more spiritual discipline in my life than I do right now.” And God has been so patient with me and so kind.

There was a song that I listened to when I was a kid—that I still sing in my head—that I’m a masterpiece in progress; that God is continuing to work on me; that I am His poiema—that He has created and is shaping me and writing this beautiful poem with my life. It is messy; it’s not in this order that I want it to be. Just as God’s been patient with me—we, as parents, are called to be patient with our kids.

Bob: So what do we do with discouragement, as parents, when we work, and work, and work and feel like we should be further along?—they should be further along? They don’t seem to be getting it; or they got it for a while and, now, they’re having a bad season. How do we deal with that disappointment and that discouragement?

Drew: You know, some of my favorite TV shows, or videos to watch, or people to follow on Instagram® are the ones of transformation stories—you know, the #transformationtuesday. I don’t know—do you ever do baptism testimonies at your church?

Ann: Yes.

Dave: Sure do.

Drew: They’re so powerful.

Ann: The best.

Dave: The best; the best.

Drew: They’re amazing when we hear stories of life transformation. What we’ve got to do is—we’ve got to put those stories on the mantel of our homes. We’ve got to show kids, “This is what God’s done in my own life.” That’s going to require us telling them some of the backstory; so we, as parents, have to unveil some of the ugliness in our life and say: “This is who I was,” and “This is what God’s done.” “Your mom and I’s marriage has not always looked like this,” or “I’ve really struggled with this area of purity in my life, just like you are.” So often, we want to fix kids instead of walk alongside them and share our journey with them.

A transformation story always has a beginning—it always has a before—before we see the after. One thing I encourage parents to do is to invite folks to come over and share their transformation stories with kids; or at your youth group, invite older couples in the church to come and speak and share the story of how their marriage almost didn’t make it because of an affair, or because of unfaithfulness, or because of impatience—whatever it was. Tell that story so they can see a perfect marriage is not really actually perfect—that it’s gone through this transformation. Let’s highlight those stories in our services with baptism testimonies. Let’s highlight these stories in our homes by inviting our friends, and neighbors, and spiritual aunts and uncles to come over and share what God has done in their lives.

Dave: Drew, let me ask you this: “How about the parent?” You know, you’re talking about a friend or neighbor testimony at church. I can remember our youngest son—when the other two sons were in college, he’s now alone—and he started asking questions the other two never asked—and very personal—because he’s on this spiritual journey. He’s in high school; and he’s like, “Hey mom and dad, did you guys have sex before you got married?” We’re sitting there—like, “Uh, at what age do we share—

Ann: —“share all of it?”

Bob: “Do we answer?”—yes.

Dave: “How much do we share?” Give us some wisdom on that. What would you say to a parent?—how vulnerable?

Drew: I would have answered this question differently a decade ago than I would now. They say the average age that a kid is exposed to pornography is age seven. And kids are being exposed to so much more, even in the TV shows that they’re watching. You know, the ratings on movies are different now—kids are being exposed to this world. If we’re not going to be willing to go there and tell them about it, then they’re going to hear it from other people. So I would really encourage parents to be as vulnerable as you’re able; then maybe, draw that line and go even a little bit further that way.

I had lunch, a few weeks ago, with a friend. He told me about his son coming home late from a high school football game one night. He could see on Find My Friends where his son was, and his son was not at the game—he had lied to him. He was in a parking lot, somewhere else, with his girlfriend. The son came home. His dad called him out and said, “Hey, I saw that you weren’t where you said you were.” Then the son said, “No; I wasn’t.” And the dad said, “What were you doing?” The son told his dad, verbatim, what he was doing in the car/what was being done to him.

Instead of shaming him and yelling at him, what the dad did is—he cried with him, and he held him, and he hugged him. The dad confessed how he had made some sexual mistakes in his past, and it was this moment of healing between the father and the son. I really believe that moments like that are way more transformative than moments that make a kid feel like they didn’t measure up.

Bob: Here’s a fear a parent has when a teenager says, “So, did you guys have sex before you got married?” If that’s a part of your story—and you say, “Yes; we did,”—your fear is the kid’s going to go, “Well, it worked out okay for you—

Dave: Yes.

Ann: Exactly.

Bob: —“and so I guess, now, I’m okay to go do this.” That’s kind of why we don’t want to say that was a part of the story; because we don’t want our kids going out and saying, “Well, I guess it’s okay, now, for me to do that.”

Drew: Right. There’s a phrase that we use in our small group of friends—we’ve been in this small group, with the same four other couples, for the last eight years. A lot of times, when we’re working through harder things in our relationships, we’ll use this phrase: “The story I’m telling myself is that, when you didn’t like my message on Group Me, you didn’t approve of what I was saying,” or “The story I’m telling myself is, when you didn’t come to this thing we were having at our house, that you didn’t really want to be with us.” You know, we all lie to ourselves and tell us these stories—we fill in the blanks with something in our head.

So either you are going to allow your child to fill in the blanks with a story that they are going to tell themselves, which is probably one that is worse off than reality, because of the world that they’ve grown up in; or you can tell them the true story of what has happened. You can show them how God has redeemed it. And the reality is—God has redeemed it; and that our kids are going to fail, and they are going to mess up. They are going to do things that we so wish they would not have done. There are going to be things that are done to them that we wish would not have happened.

But do we believe in a God who redeems?! Do we believe in a God who makes broken things beautiful? If so, then let’s be real and say: “Yes; this is what happened. It was not God’s best, but God did redeem it. My hope and prayer for you is that you would not have to go through this brokenness.”

I will tell—I mean, I told a girl in our youth group, with her mom, the other day—I was talking to them. I told her with her mom present so it wasn’t super weird—but I said: “I kissed six girls before I got married. Thankfully, by God’s grace, I was a virgin when I got married; but I still see some of the girls that I kissed. I still think about when I kissed them, and I wish I didn’t have that thought in my head. My hope for you is that you would not have to have that same regret that I have. This is why we are wanting to protect you from this.”

Ann: There was one day when Dave happened to check the history on our computer—this was years ago—and there was pornography on it. He approached me and said: “Do you know—this isn’t me—do you know—is this you? Do you know where this came from?” I said I had no idea. We pulled our oldest son into the room; and Dave asked him, “Hey, is this you?” And he’s real honest and he said, “Yes.” But I loved Dave’s response, because Dave started crying.

Dave: Yes; it was impromptu—I did not plan this. I actually had thought about this, for years—like, “What will I do the day…?” It wasn’t if; it was when, and that was that day. I thought: “I’m going to be mad. I’m going to lay down the law. I’m going to pull that computer out,”—you know, that’s what I went through in my mind [when I thought about it]—and when it happened, I wept.

Bob: Yes.

Ave: I said, “CJ”—and he’s given us permission to share this story—but I said: “CJ, I’m weeping because I know the box you just opened. I’ve opened that box. This does not go away. I want to walk beside you, man to man. Let’s win this battle together.” It’s been 20-some years now together. But it was that moment of vulnerability, which I was afraid of; but I think he could see: “God redeems darkness. God is with us/alongside us,” and “I [CJ] can reach where God wants me to be, as a dad—as a man, in the future—with my dad.”

I look back now, and it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life with my oldest son. I think he would say the same thing.

Ann: Yes; and we walked through it together. We even said to him: “What do you think? How can we help you? What should the consequence of this be?—a consequence that would help you?” We didn’t lay down the law of: “Your not having the computer for…”—whatever. He said, “I think I should be off the computer for a month.” We were like, “…a month?”

Dave: We were like “Yes; that sounds good!”

Ann: We were amazed that he was harder on himself than we would have been. But even that he had a say in a consequence that could be helpful for him.

Drew: And kids won’t always be at that place. You know, some other parents will have the same thing happen and it will be like: “Well, everybody else in my school does this. Why am I getting in trouble for this?” They won’t have that repentant heart.

Ann: So what do you do then?

Drew: Well, I think we’ve just got to trust the process of us being obedient and pointing kids back to the gospel. You know, what I do is—I just always point it back to the cross and the resurrection, because Jesus went to the cross before there was resurrection. There was brokenness and death before there was healing and restoration: “When Jesus was on that cross, I’m sure He felt those same things that you were feeling when you saw that brokenness and that sadness over sin.”

I will tell kids: “God hates sin so much. You want to know how much God hates sin? Have you ever heard your parents fight? And you know that feeling that gets inside you when your parents are yelling at one another?—you hate that brokenness; you hate that sin.” I kind of walk them through these different emotions that they felt and help them understand that Jesus knows; and He’s been through that, and He’s paid for it; and “Guess what? He went to the grave for you, but He did not stay there; and there is hope.” We’ve got to cast a vision of hope for kids.

Dave: Now, you’re saying that to the kid, which is awesome; and I love how you’re saying that.

I’m now sitting here, thinking, “Okay; the parent, who has lost hope…”—because even when you think about the prodigal son story—and I’ve preached this—you know, I’ve always tried to give people this picture of the father’s waiting by the mailbox. You know, my message is: “You have a Father/a God, who is waiting by the mailbox for you to come home.” But I’m thinking: “There’s parents out there—that aren’t waiting by the mailbox, because they’ve lost hope. They’ve given up. Their son or daughter is so far out—they’re dark. What would you say to them? How do they find hope?”

Drew: That’s why I think it’s so crucial to be plugged into a local church community, where we can see hope happen in other people’s lives—where we can, every Sunday, rehearse the story of death and resurrection, and rehearse the hope that we have in Christ, and remember that He has come and that He will come again—this is the mystery of faith that we celebrate.

If we’re not in that community—if we’re not surrounded by music, and podcasts, and Scripture, and things that are reminding us of the truth—then we are going to look at a broken world, and we are going to be hopeless; but we have got to read the end of the story. In Revelation, it is a great ending to an incredible story; and there is hope—we’ve got to remind them of that.

Bob: I’m just imagining parents going, “So kid’s looking at pornography—and you’re telling us to talk to them about the cross and the resurrection. How do we help them connect the dots between their behavior and this great story that’s at the heart of Loving Teenagers with the Gospel?”

Drew: I think we’ve got to continue to just preach the gospel to ourselves—and to get it to a place where we really understand it, and we really believe it—then it will naturally flow out of us. So often, we want to have it figured out; but you know, one of the best parts of the gospel is that Jesus is alive right now; and where is He?—He is seated at the right hand of the Father. And He has left with us the Holy Spirit, the great Comforter/the great translator. He has given us Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit, and He actually will live in us and speak through us.

We have got to believe that that power actually resides in us—that we don’t have to have all the answers. There is no way—we cannot read enough books on parenting or on all these different issues; we will always fall short. But we will never fall short, because we have the Holy Spirit in us. When we step out in faith and trust Him, what we’re doing with our kids is—we’re demonstrating for them what it actually looks like to live out the Christian life. Like you said earlier—your son said he [Dave] lived the life. Do our kids see us trusting the Holy Spirit to even lead us in our conversations with them?

Bob: Drew, you’ve been a great encouragement to every mom and dad, who are listening, to just remind us—stay in the journey—keep walking/keep being alongside our kids—invite others in who can walk alongside with them—and there’s power in that; there is glue in that. Thanks for being on FamilyLife Today.

Drew: Thank you for having me.

Bob: The book that Drew has written is called Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel. We’ve got the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can request your copy when you go, online, at; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to get a copy of the book. Again, the title is Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel by Drew Hill. Order from us at or call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

I haven’t seen the latest numbers; but I know we’ve had a lot of listeners, who have gone to our website at to look at some of the video, where they can get introduced to the new hosts of FamilyLife Today, Dave and Ann Wilson. I know people are really enjoying hearing your story. In fact, you guys were on the TODAY show, back a couple of months ago. We’ve got a link to the clip from that on our website at if folks missed your appearance, talking about your marriage on the TODAY show.

We’re hoping that our listeners will get to know you guys, as well, by reading your new book, Vertical Marriage. We’ve got copies of the book that we’re making available to anyone who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation this month. When you make a donation, you’re making it possible for what we do here, everyday, to be heard by more people more regularly. Our goal is to effectively develop godly marriages and families—to equip husbands and wives and moms and dads—with practical biblical help and hope for their marriages and for their families. You make that possible when you support this ministry.

If you’re able to make a donation today, we’d like to say, “Thanks,” by sending you Vertical Marriage by Dave and Ann Wilson. Get to know the Wilsons a little better and learn the principles that they’ve learned that have been transformative in their own marriage relationship. Go to to make a donation, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to request a copy of the book and to donate by phone. Again, the website:; or call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

Now, as we’ve been talking about the importance of parents being transparent and vulnerable with their children today, I was looking out of the corner of my eye; and the President of FamilyLife® was nodding his head. He’s here with us—his name is David Robbins. This is something you are pretty passionate about.

David: Yes; I am. I think authenticity and vulnerability is something craved today and “How do we experience it in really meaningful ways?” One of the themes that stood out today was the powerful tool that vulnerability can be as we seek to make disciples of others and help people in their own spiritual growth and personal growth. I think it’s because vulnerability points us past the illusion that any person has it all together and reminds us that God is our hope for life and for restoration. We’re pointing people to Him, not some savior complex that we can have, as we invest in others.

We know, in our head, the verse about God’s grace being sufficient and His power being made perfect in our weakness; yet, too often, I think we self-protect and remain guarded from really boasting about our weaknesses like Paul says in that passage in

2 Corinthians. I think we fear that, if we let others in—and that can even be our kids, our spouse, our neighbors—whomever—if we let others know the chinks in our armor and that we are far from perfect, it will cause them to lose respect for us. What I experience is that it’s actually the opposite—it doesn’t work that way; it’s exactly the opposite.

Think of a way, today, you can move toward a neighbor, or a family member, or even your spouse in a way to be more fully-known. Even small acts of vulnerability can make much of a God who redeems.

Bob: Yes; it feels frightening; but when we do it, it opens up intimacy; doesn’t it?

David: Yes; the risk to be fully-known is always worth it.

Bob: Yes; thank you, David.

Well, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about one of the most painful seasons a couple can walk through in their marriage; and that’s a season of extended infertility. What if that infertility goes on for years?—what if it’s permanent? Matthew Arbo joins us to talk about walking through infertility tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.


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Episodes in this Series

Alongside 2
Relational Engagement
with Drew Hill March 26, 2019
Pastor Drew Hill talks straight with parents about engaging kids emotionally. Hill recommends parents repeatedly initiate with their kids by going on family walks and enjoying family meals.
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Alongside 1
Loving Teens with the Gospel
with Drew Hill March 25, 2019
Pastor Drew Hill invites parents to see their teens through the lens of the gospel. Hill encourages parents to ask good questions, like Jesus did, rather than always issue a command.
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