Do you remember what it was like to be a teenager?
The self-consciousness. The physical self-awareness. Trying to fit in. Doing whatever it took to gain peer acceptance. Attempting to act cool but looking like a fool. (I remember spilling soda on myself at McDonald’s in front of three girls, and I genuinely wanted to die right then and there!)
Being a teen is scary, awkward, and volatile. Unsurprisingly, they will produce tumult and stress in the home that younger children won’t. It’s a tough season of life for all involved, but moms and dads–and the Christian community as a whole, for that matter–need to reject the dread and cynicism that accompany this stage of life.
This weekend in Raleigh at my annual parenting livestream, I’m going to spend a full session on how we can more effectively love, parent, and influence our teens. Even if you don’t have a teen now or coming in the future, I would encourage you to tune in. You know parents with teenagers who need help, and God has also placed teens in your life who need wisdom and love!
So what does the Bible say about teenagers? Well … nothing! However, the Bible gives us excellent descriptions of the tendencies of youth. Here are just three things for you to consider as you raise and interact with the teens that God has placed in your life:
Teens don’t hunger for wisdom and correction.
Most teens think they are wiser than they actually are, and they believe their parents (and all adults, for that matter) have little practical insight to offer. It’s frustrating, yes, but I have watched far too many adults make correction bitter as they beat their teen with demeaning words.
Our call is to make wisdom attractive. You don’t do this with nasty, inflammatory confrontations. No wisdom is imparted in these moments. If you hit teens with a barrage of verbal bullets, they will either run for the bunker or come out firing themselves.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
Teens make unwise choices in their companions.
There is a great deal of material in Proverbs about friendship and the influence that others have on you and your behavior. Yet teenagers tend to be prickly and protective when it comes to discussions of their friends.
We need to approach these conversations with sensitivity and patient love. Never resort to name-calling and character assassination. Your goal should be to ask probing questions that help the teen to examine their thoughts, desires, motives, choices, and behaviors concerning friendship.
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20
Teens lack a long-term investment perspective.
Teenagers tend to live for whatever they want in the moment, and they tend to put off their responsibilities until the very last minute. We must lovingly challenge their belief that this physical moment is all that matters.
Our teenagers need us to be on site, teaching them to look at the long view of life, not with harsh condemnation and frustration, but with empathy and forbearance. They need our help to see that every choice, every action is an investment and that it is impossible to live life without planting seeds that will be the plants of life they will someday harvest.
“Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.” (Proverbs 1:29-31)
I want to conclude this devotional with the same question that I started with: do you remember what it was like to be a teenager?
Effective parents are those who can remember what it was like to live in the scary world of those adolescent years and display the mercy that they once needed themselves as a teen.
I’m deeply persuaded that this is a period of unprecedented opportunity. I would go as far as to say that the teen years are the golden age of parenting, when you can help prepare adolescents for a productive, God-honoring life as an adult.
Find out more at: https://www.paultripp.com/wednesdays-word/posts/how-to-love-a-teenager
As we approach Valentine’s Day, everyone is talking about love. But if you listen, you’ll find that a lot of the conversation is centered around vague definitions or abstract concepts.
Let’s get concrete and specific: Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving. What inspired my definition? Love is best defined by an event: Christ’s sacrifice of love is the ultimate definition of what love is and what love does.
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
(1 John 4:10-11, ESV; read verses 7-21 for full context)
Let’s unpack that definition. Here it is again: Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.
Jesus said, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18).
The decisions, words, and actions of love always grow in the soil of a willing heart. You simply cannot force a person to love; otherwise, it fails to be genuine, other-focused, Christ-centered love.
There is no such thing as love without sacrifice. If you want to love like Jesus, you must be willing to give up your time, energy, money, and preferences for the good of another. Love serves, waits, gives, suffers, forgives ... then does all these things on repeat.
For The Good Of Another
Love is motivated by the interests and needs of others, excited at the prospect of alleviating burdens and meeting needs. If you are only interested in loving people because you get something good in the end, you are not motivated by love for them but by love for yourself.
That Does Not Require Reciprocation
The Bible says that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. If he had waited until we were able to reciprocate, there would be no hope for us! Love isn’t a “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” contract. Love isn’t about placing people in our debt and waiting for them to pay off their debts. Love isn’t a negotiation for mutual good. Real love isn’t motivated by the personal return on the investment.
Or That The Person Being Loved Is Deserving
Love does its best work when the other person is undeserving. Christ was willing to go to the cross and carry our sin precisely because there was nothing that we could ever do to earn, achieve, or deserve the love of God.
Now, maybe you’re thinking, “There’s no way I can love like this. Where do I start?” (Good! Hopelessness in yourself is the doorway to hope in Christ)
I have one word for you to meditate on: gratitude.
“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Genuine, other-focused, Christ-centered love is not born through begrudgingly succumbing to duty. No, love is born out of remembering and celebrating. When I remember the lavish, faithful, patient, forgiving, and empowering love that has been poured on me, I will want to give that love away to someone else.
So today, be filled with gratitude for the love of Christ that has been poured down on you, and that has changed your life trajectory forever. Then you will be motivated to look for opportunities to love like Jesus.
- Post from Paul Tripp