Even when you have done your best to raise teens in the Christian faith, you have no guarantees they'll make the best decisions. Pray for your kids and continue to teach them, but realize that as they grow they're going to make more of their own decisions. Even when those decisions aren't what you'd like them to be, God can use their experiences to teach them and help them rely on Him and to grow in their own faith.
Putting God First
The biggest choice all Christians -- children, teens and adults alike -- face every single day is "who is going to be first in my life?" Jesus instructed his followers to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," following that command with the promise that all of the things they truly need would be added to them. Christian teens face the challenge of giving God first place in their lives in a world that isn't always supportive of that decision and in the midst of many other impulses that vie for their attention.
Kindness to Others
Jesus taught that the two greatest commandments -- in fact the commandments on which all other commandments are based -- are "love God with all your heart" and "love your neighbor as yourself." Christian teens are faced every day with people who don't have a Christian worldview. Loving and sharing the love of God with those who disagree with -- or even oppose -- them is a Christlike decision. Judging, looking down, being harsh with or ignoring those who are not Christians is not.
Teens are at a place in life when their friends' influence becomes more significant as their parents' influence wanes. While Christian teens shouldn't ignore or exclude anybody, they should carefully choose their close friends and those who will influence them. If they choose close friends who honor God, they will be blessed. Proverbs 27:17 puts it this way: "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." By contrast, 1 Corinthians 15:33 states, "Bad company corrupts good character."
Teens have always faced pressure to have sex. That pressure is intensified today by media that portrays sex as fun without showing the potential consequences or considering how God wants Christians to handle their sexual urges. First Corinthians 6:12-20 lays out the basics of Christianity's view regarding sexual behavior, concluding with "honor God with your bodies." Christian teens face a tough decision that comes with a price. Honoring God, themselves and their future spouse by waiting for sex until they are married often means that they will face ridicule from their peers -- and sometimes adults -- on top of the physical and emotional difficulty of waiting.
Use of Time
Every teen is given 24 hours in a day. For those who seek to honor God, some of that time should be spent reading His word. Some of it should be spent praying. Some of it should be spent serving God by helping others. As little as possible of it should be wasted. Ephesians 5:16 instructs Christians to make the most of every opportunity that is given to them. For a Christian teen, that means making good decisions about balancing church, school, family, friendships, recreation and sometimes a job. A good guideline that Christian teens can use to figure out whether they are generally making good use of their time is to ask themselves at the end of the day, "Am I closer to God and the direction I believe He wants my life to go now than I was when I woke up?"
- Focus on the Family: Six Ways to Build Your Teen's Identity
- Surf in the Spirit: The Power of Choice
- The Good News: Just for Youth -- Wise Advice for Wise Decisions
- Fenway News Online: Getting Inside Your Christian Teen's Head
- Bible Gateway: Matthew 6:33, NIV
- Bible Gateway: Matthew 22, NIV
- Bible Gateway: Proverbs 27:17, NKJV
- Bible Gateway: 1 Corinthians 15:33
- Bible Gateway: 1 Corinthians 6, NIV
- Bible Gateway: Ephesians 5, NIV
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