Parents: Your Teenager is Made for Impact
by David Sliker
I had been in youth ministry for fifteen years already—it was early 2007—when my wife had a powerful dream. In it, the Lord spoke clearly about four keys to effectively discipling youth. The Lord said to my wife, “Tell him (meaning me) to preach identity, intimacy, intercession, and impact!” The dream made sense to me immediately. It was the simplest road map for discipleship I had ever heard. I understood the progression immediately. What keeps teenagers from the greatest impact in life? A wrong sense of their identity in Christ.
The starting point of our journey in the gospel is our new identity. Being “born again” redefines who we are entirely. It redefines our worth or what makes us successful. In Christ we are loved first—freely and fully. We are fought for, we are cherished, and we are worth dying for. We are sons and daughters, brought into His family, and our Father loves us with all of His heart, soul, mind, and strength. The fullness of His love is set upon us and the fullness of His Spirit is set within us. His pursuit of us began even “while we were yet sinners” and at war with Him. Teenagers need to feel the power of God’s free acceptance in love.
The absence of free acceptance—from God and other believers—leaves teens fundamentally broken on the inside and incapable of relating in a healthy way with others. Once they accept the truth of how much Jesus loves them, it satisfies their longing for love completely. Then they can enter into healthy relationships with family and godly friends, knowing love is not earned but freely given and enjoyed. One of the rarest things for a teenager to possess today is confidence. And confidence as a beloved son or daughter of the Most High God goes a long way.
Security in grace and union with Jesus are the only ways to fully and confidently walk in the Spirit. When the revelation of free acceptance by God produces security in the depths of their hearts, our teens will allow Jesus to come as near as He wants to and they can be truly filled with the Spirit. They will become fearless in love—and thus trusting, voluntary bond-slaves who will follow Jesus wherever He leads.
Attempting to get our teenagers to be committed as servants of God before they are secure in love almost always produces some form of fear-of-man-based performance or external holiness. True holiness flows out of passion, which begins with their willing acceptance of God’s love for them. Passionate holiness (a red-hot heart with fiery gratitude) expresses abundant life, joy, and compassion. Religious holiness reveals a heart of fear, judgment, criticism, insecurity, and condemnation with no passion or joy as they try (and fail) to conform outwardly to principles.
When we fight for our teenagers to lay hold of their true identity, real intimacy with Jesus follows. They voluntarily develop a personal prayer life, the fruit of the pursuit of holiness appears, and they begin to love and respect the Bible. From there, training our teenagers to pray with and for others (intercession) unlocks their hearts to begin walking in boldness in the power of the Holy Spirit for great impact. We have been following this pattern in youth ministry and in the parenting our own teenagers for a number of years now, and by His grace we have seen incredible fruit! We are confident that you can as well.
For more information and insight on discipling the young people around you, the teaching series, Made for Impact: Loving Jesus Well in Your Teenage Years, is available online from Forerunner Bookstore. Whether you feel you need a greater understanding of what it means to disciple your teen or a reminder to help refresh your resolve, Made for Impact is a helpful tool that explores how teens can become effective workers in God’s kingdom and grow in maturity day by day.
- President, IHOPU
- Executive Director, Internships
David Sliker has been a senior leader at the International House of Prayer Missions Base in Kansas City, Missouri, for the past 20 years. Ministering and serving with his wife, Tracey, and their four children, Riley, Lauren, Daniel, and Finney, David’s primary ministry calling is as an intercessor. Additionally, he ministers internationally, equipping saints in prayer, the power of the Holy Spirit, passion for the Word of God, and the proclamation of Jesus’ return. He is the president of International House of Prayer University, where he teaches about prayer and intimacy with Jesus, missions, biblical studies, and the return of Jesus. He is the author of End-Times Simplified: Preparing Your Heart for the Coming Storm, The Nations Rage: Prayer, Promise, and Power in an Anti-Christian Age, and The Triumph of Beauty: God’s Radiant Answer to the World’s Growing Darkness.