By Jessica Van Roekel, Crosswalk.com
Having teens is like having a built-in audience for our would-haves and should-haves. It’s like talking to our younger selves, except it seems as though they listen with half an ear and a couple of eye rolls.
But even though it seems like our teens disregard our experience and wisdom, we still need to do our best to coach them into adulthood.
Our teens need as much encouragement as we can give them. The microscopic world of social media isolates, the cancel culture rejects, and ghosting devastates.
Living lives so connected to digital media means that the school room drama follows them home. In an instant a life can come under scrutiny and become the primary target for attack. Our teens juggle academics, extracurriculars, relationships, and social media. We need to help them remember that God is for them and able to help them with everything they face.
The following are 10 wisdom nuggets that our teens need to hear from us.
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1. Your Choices Today Matter for Tomorrow
Embrace the now, but with the future in mind. Have fun but remember that your choices today affect your tomorrow.
Sowing what you reap is a biblical principle found in Galatians 6:7-9:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Think of your life like a garden. Are you sowing jealousy, envy, or comparison? These things matter in the long run.
On the flip side if you sow things like integrity and honesty, you will reap the benefits of those character traits as you step into adulthood.
2. You Were Made on Purpose for A Purpose
You are valuable, and you have purpose. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do,” Ephesians 2:10.
Don’t let discouragement tell you otherwise. Don’t let people infer that you have nothing to offer. God made you in his image, designed for his glory and purpose.
Seek him and he will guide you. Follow your interests, but also be open to something new. Sometimes God sparks a new fire within us through someone’s words of encouragement.
And if you’re feeling discouraged, trust God to show you the way. Don’t give up. Endure and persevere.
God will lead and direct you. But know this: you are especially made in the image of God. He has imprinted himself on you and you have something good to offer his world.
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3. You Have A Safe Place with Me
You are learning to not need me, your parent. You’re spreading your wings to fly.
There will be times when you soar and times when you tumble. You might disappoint yourself and you might feel I’m disappointed in you.
Know this: I might have wished you made a better choice, but I’m not disappointed in you. You, dear heart, are still learning and growing. I want to be the soft place where you land.
God says that nothing can separate us from his love and, dear one, I want to live that out with you. Even if I cry or get mad, I am your safe place. I want to know your troubles and struggles, not to condemn you, but to know how to pray for you. Land here, beside me, and know that I love you and nothing you do can separate my love from you--and even if you could, you will never, ever lose God's (Romans 8:35).
4. Make God’s Word Important
God’s word is the most important word you will ever know or read. It is living and active, useful for teaching and training in righteousness.
It isn’t so much as a manual of what not to do, but a letter of loving instruction from God’s heart to yours. He wants his best for you.
The Lord is able and willing to help you become the best reflection of himself to your world, but to do that, you must know God’s word. There will be some resistance to this. It will come in the form of distractions and it might feel “boring.”
Somedays, you might wonder if God’s Word even applies to your life. Take heart, it does. It has the answers to handle those who offend you, how to be at peace, what to do with anxiety, and what it means to be a young man or woman of integrity.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work,” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
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5. Choose to Honor Him
Micah 6:8 lays out a three-step plan to honoring God—love mercy, act justly, and walk humbly with him.
What is mercy? Mercy is not giving someone what they deserve. That so-called friend who bashed you on Snapchat? It’d be so tempting to fire off your own comeback, but resist. Choose mercy.
It is to your glory to overlook offense. Justice is not fairness. It’s rightly determining an action based on God’s righteousness. Do right in God’s eyes.
Humility is not tearing oneself down or thinking one doesn’t have anything to offer. Humility is recognizing that God is God and that we are not. It’s lowering ourselves before God, admitting that he knows far more than we could ever hope to understand.
Choose to live by these principles, and experience the goodness of God’s design.
6. Remember That Christ in You Makes You Enough
It is so tempting in our world of personal expression and finding our own strength that we forget that in our own power and strength we are not enough. It is Christ in you that makes you enough.
He enables you to face the future with courage. Your identity finds its foundation when you realize that it’s Christ in you that completes you.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
The world will do its best to tear you down through every avenue possible. But fight to find your identity in Christ's all-sufficient enoughness, and know that you are enough too.
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7. Find Someone to Serve
This world will try and tell you that the pursuit of personal happiness is your primary goal. But true and fulfilling happiness comes when we serve others.
Comparison between someone’s posted highlights and your hidden lows happens every time you log on and start scrolling. A constant barrage of questioning who is better or worse, who has a happier life, who has more friends, who is more attractive--it's enough to drive anyone mad.
One of the best ways to counteract the comparison trap is to find someone to serve (Galatians 5:13). It could be a local food pantry or another ministry. It could be as simple as checking on one friend every time you feel the need to compare yourself.
Serving others nudges us out of the trap of always thinking about “me”. Bearing one another’s burdens splits the work.
Celebrating with someone multiplies joys.
8. Guard Your Heart
One of the greatest lessons you’ll ever learn is how important it is to guard your heart. Risky films, questionable music, and the wrong kind of friends can have too much influence in your heart.
Proverbs 4:23 states, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Out of your heart, life flows.
The kind of life that reflects itself in your eyes and spills out into your actions. Connecting the dots between what we know to do and actually putting it into practice begins with guarding our hearts.
Your heart, your life, is so precious. Protect it with all you have.
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9. Mistakes Can Be Redeemed
Remember that grace extends to mistakes. You’re reaching for independence and in it, choices sometimes get made that have unintended consequences and you want to turn back time and choose a different path.
God uses redemption to turn the sorrows of past mistakes into beauty. He works hard things out for his glory and your good when you love him with your whole self. If a sinister voice ever whispers that you’ve gone too far and you’re past the point of no return, remember that redemption is waiting for you (1 John 1:9).
10. Live by Faith Not by Sight
So often we want all the answers right now. We want to know the next fifty-steps of our lives before we take even one. Living a life for God involves adventure and suspense.
We never know what turns might arrive in our paths. It’s a beautiful thing, to live life surrendered to the Lord.
It’s also hard when the way grows dark and challenging. Remember that you are loved by the God who calls each star by name and knows every hair on your head.
He is trustworthy to guide your steps. Walk in his ways and not your own understanding. Trust his process of growing and maturing you so that you might bring him glory, “For we live by faith and not sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Let’s encourage our teens to keep their hearts turned towards God. Don't doubt the amazing impact your wisdom can have on them, even if it takes years to see the fruit.
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