What Teens Need from Us More Than (Almost) Anything Else
by Fia Curley
In an age in which sin is swept into the dustpan of celebration and distributed throughout various channels in society, parents must realize the formative role they play in the foundation and growth of their children’s spiritual development.
There comes a time when every parent must have those much-needed conversations with their teens in order to prepare them for what’s ahead. Some parents may feel uncomfortable, unprepared, or unqualified; others may not even know where to start. But talking to your teens about what awaits them is vital.
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15–17)
As this world continues to be tossed to and fro by the whims of culture and competing ideologies, it’s important that teens hear from their parents the authentic truth of Jesus’ ability to love, lead, save, clean, heal, and deliver. More than just a routine of right actions, parents can help usher their children into an authentic relationship with the Lord in which they know their God.
One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4)
Every parent has the opportunity to see God give their teens “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of [their] understanding being enlightened; that [they] may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.” (Ephesians 1:17–19)
Unfortunately, everything about our culture is set to entice and lure young people into believing they only live once. But the truth is that each human soul was made to live forever. It’s true that our bodies will die, but the spirit of every person will continue to live. Our teens must know this truth. And they must know the One whom they can rely on in this age, as well as in the next.
While we often think of missions as an ongoing project occurring in the farthest reaches of the earth to people from different cultures, a primary mission field for parents resides right within their own home. Those in desperate need of the gospel are not only thousands of miles away. Most often they are downstairs in the family room or in their rooms plugged into media, receiving messages and paradigms based on someone else’s way of thinking.
The only thing that can truly counteract the false gleam of sin is the beauty of Jesus.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11)
That’s why an authentic, growing relationship with Jesus, in which teens are confident in God and relate to Him as the God who became fully man, is necessary for every teenager.
As a parent, you have the unique opportunity to dispel myths and rumors, field questions daily, and actually help lead your child to search out a genuine relationship with their Maker for themselves.
An intentional relationship with God is rarely one that is entered into without an introduction. That is why the Lord made it clear that as His followers we are to,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19–20)
One observation rings true: when parents want their children to be good stewards of money, they teach them about money; and when parents desire for their children to be productive members of society, they teach them about morals, ethics, and hard work. Young people are never left to their own devices to figure out how they feel about chores, the house rules, their family members, possessions, or a parent’s standards. The same approach can be set for their spirits—the eternal part of them.
Just as Jesus is on the throne interceding for us, parents can follow this example by praying for their children to see Jesus as He is—as a compassionate and holy man, and not just a brand ambassador for a weekly activity or a friend to call when they need a little extra help.
Jesus is not insurance, and He is not a band-aid. He is God. But children aren’t born fully cognizant of this truth. It is revealed to them by the Spirit of God.
Parents have the unique opportunity of being able to help guide teens into this truth in the midst of car rides (to and from school or band practice), over evening meals, and while running errands. And while all parents desire for their teens to have accurate information about God, like many other conversations, this is less about how much you know and more about getting the discussion started so your teens are on the right path to discover more and grow in intimacy with Jesus.
You can encourage your teens to seek the Lord through the simple but effective plan of helping your teens know God, trust Him, and talk with Him.
Help Your Teens Know God
A consistent aspect of children’s nature is that they may not always do what their parents tell them to, but they often do what they see their parents doing. When you, as the parent, exemplify the daily relationship of walking with the Lord, it is easier for your teens to gain an understanding of what an intimate relationship with Jesus can look like. As you read your Bible and devotional, take moments to fellowship with Him, and seek Him in your family’s affairs, teens are better able to grab hold of the practical outworking of intimacy and apply it in their own lives. Parents can easily call their teens to an authentic, growing relationship with God by simply displaying their own daily interactions with and dependency upon the Father.
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The
Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. (Psalm 145:8–9)
Help Your Teens Trust God
Most children grow up believing their parents are stronger, wiser, and less flawed than they are. While you don’t need to divulge all of your areas of weakness, being honest about a person’s inherent sinfulness and your own need for the Lord and His leadership can help teens understand the state of every person without Christ. Even in your flaws, you can point to the One who makes all things new—who has faithfully led you and provided for you throughout your life—which will help lead your child to look ultimately to Christ for all things.
The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. (Psalm 145:14–16)
Help Your Teens Talk with God
When teens know they are fully loved and greatly desired by the most powerful and kind ruler alive, their confidence is built and their identity developed as sons and daughters of God. The more teens talk with their Father, the greater insight they have into His character and ways. As they read the Bible, pray, and meditate upon Scripture verses, teens are able to grow in the knowledge of God and grow in intimacy with Him, knowing His voice. From this place, they are better equipped to confidently pursue their calling in partnership with the Lord.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. (Psalm 145:18–19)
Then we will see the Lord answer the cry of our teens’ hearts:
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith. (2 Thessalonians 3:1–2)
Then we will witness that the Lord, who is faithful, will establish and guard our teens from the evil one as He directs their hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.
How are you helping your teens grow in intimacy with God?
To help your teens grow in intimacy with other young believers, we offer Fascinate, our annual high school conference. This event offers times of encounter as teens seek after the Lord and engage in prayer, worship, powerful teaching, and moments of ministry in a corporate atmosphere.
Fia Curley served on the NightWatch at IHOPKC for many years, participating in prayer, worship, and intercession from midnight to 6am. Currently attending college in New York, she enjoys blending her passion for prayer, worship, and journalism as she labors with the Lord to see His goodness revealed to families, government leaders, and immigrants from non-Christian nations.