Recently I was reading an article by Tedd Tripp called “Dazzle Your Teen.” He had some great insights into giving your children a vision for worshiping God.
So to do that you have to start with a question: What rules your life?
If we are honest with ourselves, our answer would be: lots of things, that none of which are God. We are constantly fighting to keep the balance in our relationship with God as parents, as children of the Most High God. So if that is true of parents shouldn’t it follow that teens are in the same situation?
Here are some things that Tedd calls “God-substitutes” that affect a teen on a daily basis.
Pride and performance: Teens want to be the best. Our culture is built on this test taking culture. Get a good grade on your SAT’s and you will get a good job, get a good job and you will get a large house with a family. The list goes on. We see this with athletes celebrating when they score.
Pleasure and sensuality: Teens get a rush from doing new things, finding heart pumping things to do. The term adrenaline junky would apply if this was a substitute for God.
There is a direct connection between the drive for sense experience and pleasure and the culture of boredom.
Possessions: Teens are packrats. They collect stuff. They polish their stuff and display it. They want assurances that no one will touch their stuff. They’re oriented toward a life that consists of the abundance of personal possessions.
Fear of Man: Teens want to be cool. A recent song by Echosmith has a chorus that sums up the desires of most teens:
I wish that I could be like the cool kids,
‘Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in.
Teens often take cues off of others on how to act or speak. This is why the old adage is still true that bad company corrupts good morals. They want and desire to be part of the “in” crowd.
The Calling of a Parent
Look at Psalm 145:3-21 and as an exercise while your reading:
Underline everything about God. What’s left is how to respond to what you have underlined!
Psalm 145:3-21 (ESV)
3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your[a] mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
[The Lord is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.][b]
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
Our God is greater than anything of this world and if we are honest as parents we struggle with some of the four God-substitutes above. Because God has called us to be greater parents only through His power, we can overcome what is keeping our teens from being ruled by God-substitutes.
As we see teens try to fill their appetites, we need to help them understand the greatest delight.
Teenagers need to hear this message all the time: We have a glorious God. Life is found in knowing him. Life is not found in the abundance of possessions, satisfying your appetites, having a string of successes, or all other things. The greatest joys you can possibly experience as a human being are those joys found in the presence of God. In eternity you will still expand your understanding of those eternal pleasures found in Him. The greatest beauty, the highest value, the deepest satisfaction, the longest lasting joy, the most satisfying delights, the most fulfilling pleasures, the most wonderful friendships, the most satisfying experiences are not found in going places, doing things, and owning things. They are found in knowing God.
The largest obstacle that we encounter while seeking to fulfill the calling of a parent is that we are living in a fallen world. Teens are facing more than ever God-stubstitutes trying to ruin the seeds of what your teaching them. They are gossiped about, bullied, they have friends that are having sex, do drugs, drink, commit crimes, and more than likely are in a home that has only one parent. “They face rejection and attacks from people because they live in a fallen world.” If God is not in the picture, let me correct myself, if God is not the picture, they will be lost before they have been able to mature.
To know God in the midst of all the turmoil of life, to know God, to be a person who dwells in the presence of God, to be a person who is set on a rock by God, to be a person who is above the fray and above the storm because you are bound in this relationship with God–that’s what you are made for. Everything that has meaning is ultimately designed to center on God.
So I want to leave you with a question: What rules your life?
(all quotes outside of scripture are from “Dazzle Your Teen” by Tedd Tripp, except lyrics from Echosmith’s “Cool Kids”)