My wife Jenn and I spoke at a Marriage Retreat recently. During the Q & A portion, a couple asked about teen depression – how can we prevent it and how can we process it when it happens to our kids.

As we pondered the question more even after the retreat ended, I thought about three major (though not exhaustive) contributing factors to feelings of depression. Having worked as a guidance counselor and a teacher for many years, these insights have come from interactions with students and parents alike.

(DISCLAIMER: What I will be talking about are feelings of depression and not clinical depression for if felt for quite long periods of time, it’s best to consult a professional.)

The three contributing factors would be identity, family, and community.


In an article written by Culture and Youth Studies, this current youth generation is the first to grow up without ever having seen a world without SMS, social media and similar forms of online platforms. Many of them access social media sites more than 10 times a day.

In a University of Missouri study, they found out that Facebook use was tied to depression, depending on how the users consumed the platform. The term “surveillance use” was introduced. It meant that users checked up on how their friends were doing and compared what they saw in their own lives which led to feelings of depression. They would “size up their accomplishments against others” producing envy that their gadgets, relationships, trips, clothing or possessions could not match up to what their friends posted. Thus, you can see #goals in their comments.

As parents, we have to teach our children that their identity and security can never come from what they have but in Who they have. Stuff will never satisfy. Only One can.

Our relationship with Jesus will be the answer. If we see who we are – sinners and messed up people and see who Jesus is – He who died a death we should have died and lived a life we should have lived, then there can be hope. Gadgets will get outdated. Relationships will come and go. People will change. Possessions will depreciate. And clothing will go out of style. But our relationship with Jesus is the only one that can truly satisfy.

We are accepted, loved and received. We don’t have to perform or prove ourselves. We belong not because of what we have done but because of what Christ has done for us in Calvary. This is the gospel that we are to preach to ourselves every day. We are fully known yet we are fully loved. For God so loved, He gave. He demonstrated this love that while we were at enmity with Him, He died for our mess ups.

We need to realize that we can send our kids to the best schools and give them the best education, but that too will never suffice. We can give them the largest lump sum one can give as an inheritance, but that too can never satisfy. “Silver and gold we have none.” But what we can give them is Jesus.


The relationships we have is a major factor as well. Having worked as a guidance counselor for years, children have come to my office countless of times asking for prayer. Much of our prayer items were related to familial relationships. From their parent’s marriage to their relationship with siblings, these are the content of our conversations.

This I can say – one of the best gifts we can give to our children is a strong marriage. There is a sense of insecurity that attaches when they feel that their parent’s marriage is shaky.

Wounds that come from how kids are treated growing up also come into play. From verbal abuse to physical maltreatment to emotional oppression, these are things that can lead to loneliness, sadness, pain which ultimately lead to depression.


Who our kids associate with is an important thing to consider. Hurt people hurt people. Insecure people attract insecure people. Broken people seek completion from others who unfortunately are just as broken. That is why the first factor is important. We need to know whose we are more than who we are. Because whose we are will determine who we are. As we embrace who God is in our lives, we begin to understand who He designed us to be.

A community who understands this will remind each other of our real value – value that is only found in Christ.

But when young people get together with others who are unsure of who they are in Christ, then they will merely try to feed off each others’ insecurities. Surveillance surfing happens to compare what others have and what they don’t have.

But a community who knows Who designed them and what they were designed to do will ward off emotions that will not be beneficial for the young person.

There is indeed hope. With man, it may seem impossible. But with God, all things are possible. What the enemy may have planned for evil, God has the ability to turn around for good. He can cause all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.


NOTE: If you are going through feelings of depression for more than 6 months, it would be best to consult a professional. 

Richard Hamilton had his head screwed on right.

“Rip” as he was fondly called, was no.7 overall in the 1999 NBA draft, a 3 time All-Star, played 14 seasons and in one of those seasons winning a championship ring with the Detroit Pistons winning over a star studded LA Lakers cast led by Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neil, Gary Payton and Karl Malone.

After his jersey retirement a few days ago, watching his short speech reminded me of some of the things that matter the most. You can have an illustrious career and a fat paycheck, but the people that matter are right in your home.

Listen to a part of his speech during his jersey retirement at The Palace of Auburn Hills and you’ll know what I mean.


It seems like my 21 year old was just 5 years old yesterday. They say that time flies when you’re having fun. I say, time zooms by too fast.

We are pulled in many directions daily. It seems like there’s never enough time for anything.

But an understanding of what’s most valuable will determine how much time is spent where.

Five minutes? That seems short. But it is eternity for some people.

Read the story I read years ago and I hope it helps us all evaluate what is most valuable.


While at the park one day, a woman sat down next to a man on a bench near a playground. “That’s my son over there,” she said, pointing to a little boy in a red sweater who was gliding down the slide. “He’s a fine looking boy,” the man said. “That’s my son on the swing in the blue sweater.”

Then, looking at his watch, he called to his son. “What do you say we go, Todd?” Todd pleaded, “Just five more minutes, Dad. Please? Just five more minutes.” The man nodded and Todd continued to swing to his heart’s content.
Minutes passed and the father stood and called again to his son. “Time to go now?” Again Todd pleaded, “Five more minutes, Dad. Just five more minutes.” The man smiled and said, “O.K.”

“My, you certainly are a patient father,” the woman responded. The man smiled and then said, “My older son Tommy was killed by a drunk driver last year while he was riding his bike near here. I never spent much time with Tommy and now I ‘d give anything for just five more minutes with him. I’ve vowed not to make the same mistake with Todd. He thinks he has five more minutes to swing. The truth is, I get Five more minutes to watch him play.”


Kids grow up really fast… so it seems.
Action step? Drop the gadget and get some face to face conversation.

That five minute conversation may spell the difference between being a good parent from an amazing parents your kids can have.

Have a great weekend everyone!

blog-banners-001(Snippets from Carol Mkize’s message at the Every Nation World Conference 2016 Day 3)

Ukunqoba is a word that means overcomer.
You are an overcomer because God abides in you.
Intimacy with God will drive you to continue when you are no longer with other people.
You will overcome because God’s word abides in you.
Chaos is fertile ground for Christians.
Everything we learned we can now apply in the campus.
1 Samuel 17:38-40: Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
To (Spiritual) Fathers:  
What God used for you to overcome, it might be time to put it down.
The armor you used may not be the armor the next generation will use.
To the Next Generation.
Try it on first.
Don’t deny it right away.
Obedience and submission are not out of the question.
Don’t assume first that it will not work.
We have to walk with this God our fathers walked with.


(This was a message given by Pastor Brett Fuller of Every Nation Virginia at Every Nation World Conference 2016, Day 2.)

Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet? Amos 3:3

Walking together has many benefits. It may have challenges but the fruit we produce is so much better. We can do things much better than if we do them all by ourselves.img_3429

Walking together requires CONVICTION, CONSISTENCY and COMMITMENT.


Conviction to walk together in the midst of diversity.
Acts 13 shows us picture of diversity. The leaders were Barnabas who was Jewish, Simeon who was also called Niger (word when translated is black), Menaen who was a friend of Herod, Lucius from Cyrene and Saul who was a Jew who loved Gentiles.

Walking together requires a conviction to walk with each other no matter the differences.


Walking together also requires consistency.
There ought to be a rhythm.
We are with one another enough that we have lots of opportunities to offend each other. But that is not the issue. We are walking together in the rhythm of the same beat – to go and make disciples of all nations.

We walk together towards a specific direction.
Direction is necessary to get to where we need to go. Going the same direction means confining myself to a navigable route. One of the highlights being in an Every Nation Conference is being in the sessions. But equally amazing is walking through the lobby meeting with the people we can call family.

“We may not know each other – I don’t know you and you don’t know me but I like being with you because we’re going the same direction.”


And finally, walking together requires commitment.
We are with each other enough, we will give more than enough reason to stop walking with each other. We will say things that may offend. We will give each other dozens of opportunity to say goodbye. But we are here for the long haul. And it is a privilege to walk together for the long haul for the purposes of God.

This is miraculous.
But while it’s miraculous, it doesn’t happen by serendipitous moments.
It is because we make a commitment.
Coming to a conference like this maybe inconvenient and expensive but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re walking together for the long term purposes of God.



Blog Banners.001When values are clear, decisions are simpler.

Now, simpler doesn’t mean easier for many decisions we need to make are difficult. But when priorities are clear cut, choices are simpler.

I read a recent article by Sports Illustrated on Jermaine O’Neal, a six-time NBA All-Star, Most Improved Player in 2002. He helped Indiana Pacers reach the NBA Playoffs 6 times but never got a championship ring.Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 8.34.42 AM

In 2013, he signed with the Golden State Warriors to play through 2014. But after a year with the Warriors, he decided to call it a career. The year after that, the Warriors went on to win their first championship after a 40-year drought.

When his former team won the championship, he was watching the game back at his house in Southlake, Texas. His 15-year-old daughter, Asjia watched her dad watch the game and asked, “Are you OK?”

O’Neal didn’t say a word.

She knew he was pondering on what might have been if he stayed another year.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 8.34.17 AMBut for years, he told his family that they were his priority. His daughter just recovered from an open heart surgery. And while contemplating on signing with the Warriors for another year (the year they won the championship), his son told him, “Hey dad, I need you.”

“Physically, I could have done it. Mentally, no. My son and my family asked me not to, and that was the trump card. That did something to me. I was seeing changes in my son, he became more angry. And for a guy who didn’t meet his dad until seven years ago myself, I understood what it meant not to have a dad there,” O’Neal mentions in his interview with Sports Illustrated.

After she asked her dad if he was ok, Asjia walks up to her room.

A few minutes later, she sends him a text telling him about how happy she was that he was home. After recovering from her open heart surgery, she made it to volleyball team in her school and is now a rising star.

Asjia tells her dad how she appreciates him not only being home but also being able to travel with her to watch her play her volleyball games.

“Dad, you being home is like you being a champion.”

This text made what he gave up all worth it.

“It made me so emotional. When she wrote the text, how much it meant to her, to get that, it cleared up everything. All the emotions I had, missing out on the championship. That did it and I knew right away that my time was over,” O’Neal said.

“Sometimes you can’t be a champion. That doesn’t determine who you are,” he says. “But you can be a champion father, and that means everything. That means everything.”

When values are clear, decisions are simpler.

To read the full article from Sports Illustrated, click here.