Monday, January 30, 2012

Intergenerational Tattoo

Study this photo carefully.

 This is my son being tattooed (No it was not permanent--had to say that for the tattoo haters) by two of my friends, Jason Herman (HS Student Minister) and Scott Beck (Friend, Volunteer and Fishing Buddy)--yes, their tattoos are real.  This happened at our Men's Retreat and was sent in response to my wife's photo of "Girl's Night" with my daughter.

 Braeden has still not washed his back.  I know, a lack of bathing is nothing out of the ordinary for a middle School student, but this is different--this is an intergenerational tattoo.  

I am not suggesting a tattoo student ministry program, even though I know of a few, I am suggesting intentional memory making opportunities between older and younger believers.  My son had that experience last weekend and he will NEVER forget the time he was a part of something cool with the "big league" members of our church.  I promise, this experience will further deepen the trust my son feels towards these two adults which will come in handy when he needs the voice of another male influence in his spiritual walk.  So, long after the temporary, imprint has faded from my son's skin,our excursion into intergenerational tattoo ministry has left a lasting imprint on my son's heart.

I received two bits of advice, from my tattoo wearing co-worker, that you need to consider before getting a tattoo. And...these two bits actually work as great reminders to all adults wishing to leave a positive impact with their own and other students. One, it is crucial that you choose the right tattoo artist!  Even the greatest of designs can be messed up in the hands of the wrong artist.  The point is powerfully obvious!  I love the way The Message translates the highlighted phrase from Deuteronomy 6:

Attention, Israel!
God, our God! God the one and only!
Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that's in you, love him with all you've got!
Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children.

Adults, we have to be sure we are committed to being the best artist possible for the student(s) we are impacting (inking) with our influence. In other words, practice what you preach--student's are watching you! And two, remember that ink is permanent! You can fix a bad tattoo, but you can't simply forget it happened. As adults, we often believe, or want to believe, that students do not want us around or care about our opinions of them and their world.  We are wrong!  They are being impacted by the way we love our spouse, speak about authority, devotion or lack there of in spiritual get the picture.  Be careful--you are carrying permanent ink.

QUESTION:  Stretching the Tattoo Metaphor beyond the limit, what "tattoo moments" do you best remember from your own childhood?  P.S.  These comments will produce a number of practical applications--share away!


  1. For me, I had some moments like this sitting in a deer stand with guy I still to this day call my "big brother". From the time I was about 14 years old on in High School and even in college I would spend a lot of time with him in the woods. What I loved about these times were that he spent time with me just because. He told me fun stories of his life along with his failures and his successes. I got to see his faith played out in real life, doing something we both loved to do, hunt. I even saw the rough, gruff man that many knew just about curl up in a ball because he missed his wife and kids so much while we were on hunting trips. He was meek and humble when he would pray and many never saw that side of him. In fact, my son now carries his namesake! I have many others that I could speak of, from Mama Mary going on mission trips just because she loved being around us to being able to be a part of leading the worship service (singing or giving a lesson, etc...)

  2. Casey was a particularly cool senior in Youth Group when I was a Freshman. On one road trip, I remember him singling me out for encouragement (of all things!) He would repeatedly tell me I was awesome, and laugh at all my jokes. He even responded to my self-consciousness about having just gotten braces by saying "It actually makes girls want to make out with you more!" His unprovoked encouragement always made me feel important and accepted.

  3. Wow, awesome analogy! Be aware that I definitely plan to "steal it", for my own ministry purposes. Thanks.