The 2018 conference season is fast approaching with endless opportunities to further the spiritual growth and development for the men who attend.
“It is one of the best days of the year,” says Matt Newquist.
Matt is no stranger to the Noble Warriors community or Iron Sharpens Iron (now The Noble Man). Noble Warriors has ministered to him since its founding in 2005 and he currently serves as the ministry’s Controller. When it comes to the ISI conference, Matt has attended ISI almost every year.
The 2017 conference season would bring about a different impact than the previous ones for Matt. Leading up to the Richmond conference last April, Matt explains he had been praying for his teenage daughter.
“As a teenage and pre-teen parent, there are no lack of prayer needs. The most important one is that she would grow in her relationship with the Lord. I also pray that she would live as a follower of Christ in all areas of her life… I pray that our Christian influence on her would have long-term impact on her faith journey, especially given the secular cultural winds that we are fighting against.”
With his teen on his heart, Matt had been praying weeks prior to the conference for a workshop dedicated to parenting teens. When he reviewed the list of workshops being offered, he was floored.
“When I saw the revised list of ISI workshops that included one on parenting teens, I was overwhelmed by God’s providence in His answer to this specific prayer.”
The day of the conference, Matt found himself in a session on Parenting Teens, lead by Eric Wallace of Uniting Church and Home, a ministry driven by the goal of unifying the message of the Gospel within the home and within the church. Sitting in the session, Matt explains the workshop was a valuable reminder for him of his role as a parent and a father.
“One of the more liberating things I was reminded of was that our identity is not based on our performance (or lack thereof), but is based on who we are in Christ. Another ‘ah ha’ moment in the workshop was about the idols that both parents and children have in our lives that dictate our behaviors and adversely affects our effectiveness in parenting.”
The great thing about the ISI conference is that change never stops after conference day.
Matt made the point to connect with Eric after the session to follow up. Eric encouraged Matt, reinforcing some of the concepts he went over in his workshop and listened to Matt has he shared some of his own challenges. They then made the point of having one-on-one monthly meetings.
“As a parent of older teens, Eric has shared some of his own experiences and additional resources that he has found helpful. One theme he reinforces in our meetings is the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life, including our role as parents… I always leave encouraged when I leave our breakfast meetings. We plan on continuing our monthly meetings as Eric has become a mentor, friend, and partner in ministry.”
During their meetings, Eric encouraged Matt to start leading his own parenting class at church to help reinforce the same ideas to parents in his local church body who may also face challenges.
“I discussed my desire to share the Gospel Parenting concepts in a Fall discipleship class with the Pastor of Families at my church. He [Pastor of Families] assembled a multi-generational team that would co-lead the group based on the book Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul Tripp.
The lessons that were assigned proved to be no coincidence.
“It was interesting that one of the chapters I randomly was assigned was on idols. In preparing for the lesson, it was neat to apply the concepts learned from Eric’s workshop and my follow-up study on the topic, including content from the 33 Series Authentic Manhood: “A Man and His Traps” (which I learned about through Noble Warriors and had done together with men from my church).”
Matt says the group just finished up a 13-week Gospel Parenting session in mid-December. He is thankful for the opportunity to apply what he has learned from Eric’s workshop and the ISI conference. When asked if he had any encouragement for other fathers and parents he had this to say:
“I would encourage fathers, and parents in general, to not feel like you must be the ‘perfect’ parent and have all the answers to lead a group on parenting. In fact, being humble and realizing that we are insufficient in our own wisdom and strength is the best posture to be in so that we can rely on the complete sufficiency of Christ for grace, strength, and wisdom. It is said that ‘God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called’. I would encourage those to listen to God’s voice if you feel a calling to lead a class – He is looking for those who are ‘available’ rather than ‘able’. He will equip you with everything you need. You will learn so much about yourself by preparing and leading a similar group while serving others who need such a group.”
And praying for children?
“I would encourage to pray with a long-term perspective and praying daily for and with them. Keeping a journal of the prayers and how God has responded is very encouraging as we see God at work in our lives and the lives of our children. Also, I am reminded from Paul Tripp’s books that we are being fathered by our Heavenly Father as we parent our children. We are not alone in this missionary calling to raise our children to grow in their relationship with the Lord and prayer is a vital component of our mission.”
Iron Sharpens Iron Conference is now The Noble Man Conference (a part of the Iron Sharpens Iron Network). Visit noblewarriors.org/TheNobleMan for info on our upcoming conferences:
Feb. 17, 2018 in Roanoke | Mar. 3, 2018 in Fredericksburg | Mar. 17, 2018 in Richmond