“When the people return to their homeland…I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them.” Ezekiel 11:18-19
One of the hardest issue that I have found that I deal with, and I deal with it often, is “to what standard can I hold a teenager?” And I know that answer.
Its just that there is so much competing for a teenagers attention. And often I wonder if it’s the teenager that the “so much” is competing for, or is it deeper than that, did it begin somewhere else, or in someone else. It has never been harder than it is right now to disciple a teenager. I believe that. I know, I know that is has always been hard to disciple “youth”, and I am sure it was hard when I was a teenager, but I totally believe that it is different today! It’s next to impossible to “get” on a teenagers calendar with all the activities that they are very much a part, and they know this, and honestly, many of them hate their own calendar, often times because they have no say in it, or are afraid to say so!
I discipled a teenager that struggled with anxiety. I know this struggle, and it sucks, but their anxiety kept them up for many hours during the night. Their battle came from where they find their love, acceptance, worth, and significance…sports. And I saw it all over this persons face when we would meet to talk. Their everyday summer schedule alone was INSANE, a sport in the morning for 3 hours, a summer class after lunch, and then a travel sport every night!
When did this become ok?
I asked my parents if they would have allowed this when I was a teen and their answer was spot on, “No, we wanted to be a family?” I definitely think that strikes a nerve with a lot of people, and going into defense mode would seem to be the correct posture for you. A mentor of mine once told me, “your life should never be on the defense.” I thought that was interesting! But when did this become normal, and it is. When did we think a 13 year old teenager could handle such a schedule? Anxiety? It makes complete sense.
I had another teenager text me late one night explaining to me how they felt forgotten in their own home because their parents were so consumed with the other siblings sport. The teen texting me felt as though their own desires didn’t matter because it conflicted with the other siblings schedule. This teen wanted the parents to come to church.
I get that there are a few issues here that I am dealing with, and this may be more of a rant then anything, and maybe it’s just that I am trying to work it out in my head! I have such a desire, SUCH A DESIRE to disciple teens because I want them to get it, I really do. I definitely don’t see an end to this lie that so many have believed about so many activities being the answer, its HUGE, it really is! And it may have even become an idol for you and your family. I probably should not have said that. But what I think has happened is that a lot of people have left home, and maybe it wasn’t even you or me, maybe it was generations ago, kind of like the Israelites in the Old Testament! It was generations ago that left truth and the generations later just kept doing what they knew. I think this could reality today.
I don’t know what it is for you. I know what is was for me, and what it still is for me. I battle everyday, fighting what I want over what the Lord wants for me. I am so “prone to wonder”, not just during the month, but even multiple times during a single day. I am no different from anybody. But, what I do know is that God made a covenant with me through Jesus Christ, just like the covenant for the generations during the Old Testament time, His covenant promises that Jesus is enough, that Jesus is the gospel, and it requires a faith on my part. That is the truth. This faith keeps me from wondering to far, from leaving the God I love!
The standard to hold teenagers to is the Word of God. It’s what we use to disciple, and it requires a faith to change the affections of the heart. But it is hard to hold teenagers to that standard when we ourselves have left home and began believing a lie.
Could it be that we are leading our kids to believe that although Jesus is important, there is just so much more out their to experience that just seems better and more fun. I am with you on this…I am fighting this fight with you! I want the “singleness of heart!”
Read Ezekiel 11:18-19 and come home!