Today I write on behalf of teenagers. Frankly, I’m glad I’m not one today for many reasons—not the least of which is I would not want to face the temptations teens face today. I do remember my teen years, though, and I still think about some of the times when I desperately wanted guidance and encouragement back then. Here are some of the conversations I wish someone had shared with me:
- “You’re not the only one struggling as a teenage Christian.” I was certain I was. Surely nobody was battling temptations like I was. At least, nobody was talking about it. That was part of the problem.
- “Let’s talk about pornography and lust.” I cannot say strongly enough how I wish a Christian man had cared for me enough to initiate that conversation. Fathers, waiting until you catch your teen in this habit is an abdication of your responsibility.
- “I’ll show you how to read the Bible and pray every day.” I wanted to do it because my pastor told me I needed to do it. Nobody taught me, though, so I struggled trying to be obedient. No teenager should have to learn these disciplines on his or her own.
- “God forgives you, but you’ll probably remember your sinful choices the rest of your life.” Had I known 40 years ago that I’d still occasionally hurt over my past sin today, I think I would’ve made some different choices then.
- “Be ready for God to change your plans.” As a teen, I knew exactly what I was going to do when I grew up: teach high school English. God had other plans.
- “Let me help you learn your theology well because you’ll be challenged often.” High school classmates respected me, but they disputed my beliefs. College professors in a public institution questioned my faith. I’m sure the battles are worse for teens now.
- “Date only believers.” My experience is that more often than not, the nonbeliever influences the believer more than the other way around.
- “Don’t be a jerk.” I was at times, especially when I thought I was better or smarter than others. I wish someone had confronted me in my arrogance then so perhaps I wouldn’t deal as much with arrogance now.
- “Even teenagers die.” That’s morbid, I realize. None of us knew that fact, though, until a classmate died—and no one talked us through our questions.
- “The choices you make today can come back to haunt you.” That’s probably even more the case today. Facebook posts, tweets and other social media options reveal a teen’s foolishness to others, including college recruiters and future employers.
Parents and grandparents, have the conversations with your teens. Someday, they’ll be glad you did.