Teenagers are no longer children nor are they adults. They seem to be a mixture of both. At times they seem to be more like children and at other times they can be very adult like. Parenting, teaching, mentoring and ministering to teens can be somewhat confusing at times. It can be difficult to teach, lead, and develop teens because from one minute to the next they seem to be on a up and down roller coaster as they grow in stretching spurts toward adulthood.
It is tough enough to be a teen but then add their distinct personalities and their lack of experience in learning to understand themselves and others around them. Their lack of years add to their lack of understanding life in general. If they have chosen Christ as Savior they are certainly young Christians meaning they have yet to have time to mature into complete and victorious Christians. They are still in the process of decision in many areas of life. For many teens they just want to have fun and hang out with friends. Work is moving from chores to personal responsibilities. So much change so fast!
Personally I love being around teens. Yes they CAN BE lots of " pain in your side" but at the same time they can be " partners by your side". These young lives can be very sensitive, very mold-able,
and at the same time they can be easily provoked and moved to frustration causing conflict and rebellious actions.
Leading teens can be very heavy stuff but the potential they hold for our individual families, churches, nations and the cause of Christ is worth every ounce of energy and influence we can pour into them. Developing partnerships, friendships, and eternal relationships with them should be our utmost concern. I often think of the LORD JESUS CHRIST and meditate about how He would be with teens. He understands the potential for their personal joy or misery in life. He understands they will spend eternity either in heaven or hell. He understands their potential in rearing their own children and influencing others for Christ in their lifetime. Satan also understands the potential of teenagers. And he works very hard in these few short/important years of development to see to it that these young people will develop into selfish and sinful adults. Adults that only produce more messed up children and relationships into this world.
Having said all that what can we every parent, pastor, youth pastor, teacher, coach, mentor, church member do to aid these precious teens during this important time of life? How can we help them to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? How can we help them to live life well. How can we help them to be SUCCESSFUL IN LIFE ND ETERNITY!
1. BE GENUINELY CONSISTENT !
If you want to help develop your teen’s heart into a deep love of God, it is imperative that they see you love God. And that you love God so much that you are determinedly consistent in your pursuit of God. That moment by moment you are seeking to know God, to become like God, to serve God, and to please God at all times. I am not talking about never failing or being perfect, but I am talking about being single focused and not double minded in your relationship with Jesus. Not being hypocritical, but being exactly what you are everyday of the week and whether you are in public or just at home.
Teenagers are uncanny in their ability to sniff out hypocrisy and inconsistency. They may not say a thing but they register it in their minds and it provokes them to bitterness and wrath. Saying what is right to do and not being consistent in doing it ourselves only breeds contempt and disillusionment.
Perhaps the most powerful way you can help your teenager is to be consistent—in your parenting, teaching, mentoring, pastoring and leading.
2. BE ACCEPTING!
Teenagers are no different then adults in the matter of needing acceptance. They need the constant assurance that their authority figures will accept them at all times. we adults may know that we will accept them at all times but when is the last time we said it and showed it? We need to say we love them and stick with them and then we need to show it when they have sinned or failed. Showing genuine love has never been natural with sinful man but it is desperately needed in all our relationships. As believers it may still be awkward to say " I love You" or to " Give a Hug" but these and other ways of AFFIRMING teens is vital to their developing into mature adults. Being assured of our unconditional love infuses trust for us in the heart of our teens.
3. BE FIRM IN SETTING STANDARDS & RULES!
Teenagers tend toward excess, and they need you to set and keep clear sets of rights and wrongs, do's and don'ts for them. Rules and regulations will be disliked and challenged but they will provide security for teens during these years of formulating their own sets of boundaries. Boundaries in technology, communication, entertainment, foods, dress, friendships, pleasure, speech, sports, dating, social media, finances, work and so many other areas of life.
Setting clear standards and rules will certainly be challenged and unliked.Your teen may not be experienced enough to appreciate your regulations. You may be thought of as OLD or OLD SCHOOL and you may be challenged to catch up with the times. Nonetheless clearly communicate the rules beforehand and lovingly enforce them for their own good and security.
4. BE STEADFAST IN DISCIPLINE!
I am not promoting physical abuse. Man's anger never produces anything good. I am promoting steadfast , loving discipline that is meant to hold boundaries while reaching the heart.
To never discipline our children when they resist and rebel against the the good set of standards is not fair to them or to our society as a whole. We only need to turn on the news and see the result of adults not disciplining children and teens. It has produced an "out of control" person, home, school, and society. When we choose to take the easy and unloving way of not setting boundaries, communicating them clearly and insisting that they abide by them. When we fail to do so and they learn to live in such a way the future consequences for their life is only difficult and defeat is sure to make up their life.
5. BE EXPECTANT OF RESPECT!
Teenagers like children and yes ADULTS struggle with giving respect to authority. Yet we find much in the Bible declaring to respect those in authority. We are to honor parents, pastors, teachers, police, coaches, our elders, government officials, everyone in authority. Teenagers think that authority is temporary—part of childhood and thus they begin to resist the obedience of others in authority. This is true of young adults who are out of the home for the first time as they enter college or careers. The truth is, authority follows us through life. From police officers to bosses, having someone over us is part of life for our entire life. Certainly we are to submit to God's authority and to understand it is a good thing to do not a bad thing.
Teaching our children and teenagers to respect and honor authority is one of the most important things we do for them and the world we live in. When they have a conflict with a teacher, coach, youth pastor —or even with you—teach them the answer is never to demean, detest, disrespect, or talk back to authority, but to respond and respectfully work out differences. Teach them to appreciate , pray for, and respect the authorities in their lives. This will open up avenues of advancement and the opposite is to find roadblocks all along their ways of life, and eternity will bring loss of reward for believers and perhaps eternal loss for unbelievers.
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.