Jesus on Parenting Teens: Relax, Jesus Will Seek Them

This is another installment in a series of posts entitled “Jesus on parenting teens”.  I’m prayerfully working my way through the gospels to dig out gems of parenting wisdom from Jesus Himself.   

pic004

JESUS SEEKS THEM  (Matthew 4:12-25)

As a Christian parent, there’s nothing I want more than for my kids to be radically sold out for Jesus.  One thing I pray for them daily is to establish a relationship with Christ that is truly their own, not just an extension of mine.

Several years ago, I wrote a song called “Second Generation”.  (I will post the lyrics at the bottom of this post.)  Volunteering with youth, I witnessed plenty of Christian kids who thought they could “inherit” their parents’ faith, and they were just going through the motions of religious life.  These were great kids, but I knew that until they really chose to follow Jesus themselves, their faith would falter once they no longer lived under their parents’ roofs.

I realized that parents were setting high expectations for their children in the spiritual realm.  Kids who are eager to please their parents tried to reach the bar that was set for them, but in the end, they were simply reaching for the wrong bar.

It was a hard truth for me to stomach, because I realized I had done the same thing with my own kids.  I was pushing so hard for them to have a faith that looked like mine, that I nearly shoved them out of it altogether.

I think some of this stems from a misinterpretation that is often portrayed in Matthew 4:12-25.  Jesus is walking along the Sea of Galilee, and he calls Peter and Andrew to follow Him.  Verse 20 says they followed Him “at once”.

I have heard countless Sunday school stories and sermons that have encouraged me to spontaneously drop everything I am doing to follow Jesus, just like the disciples did.  While there would be nothing wrong with doing that, there’s more to the story.

It’s important to know that Peter and Andrew already knew Jesus.   He wasn’t just some hip guru passing by who compelled them to leave their jobs and family (which, by the way, is another misnomer.  They still fished for a living, and mention is also made of their families.)  Prior to Jesus showing up that day, Peter and Andrew had been followers of John the Baptist, and were there when John revealed who Jesus was (John 1:29-40).

Also interesting to note is that Jesus sought them out. Jesus had gotten word (v. 12) that John the Baptist had been thrown in the slammer, so Andrew and Peter had just lost their spiritual guide. Even though they knew about Jesus, and John had told them Jesus was greater than himself, they did not go running to Jesus to ask Him to be their new teacher.  Jesus came to them.  Though the Scripture doesn’t say, one has to wonder if this was even the first time He asked.

Like Peter and Andrew, our kids already know Jesus.  Like John the Baptist, we have been “preparing the way” for Him in their lives.  And guess what…Jesus is seeking them.  He is looking for them when they wander, like the Good Shepherd that He is.  He is asking them to follow Him.

It seems part of the plan was for John the Baptist to be out of the picture in order for Jesus to start HIS ministry to the disciples.  When our kids are about ready to enter the “real world”, it may be time for us to back off.  Jesus doesn’t need us to be the spiritual police in our kids’ lives.

That does not mean we stop talking about the things of God.  John the Baptist didn’t, even while in prison.  It just means we relax, step back, and let Jesus do His thing.   Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Relax the rules on church attendance/church choice.  I realize this is controversial.  In my experience as a youth leader, there is nothing less productive than trying to help a child grow in their faith when they don’t want to be there (i.e. their parents have forced them to be there).  Also, some kids are uncomfortable due to social anxiety or a very introverted personality.  Forcing them into group settings is not valuable.  Find alternative ways to expose them to the Gospel.  This does not mean you preach them a sermon or make them do a Bible study with you!  YouTube is a treasure trove of great preachers and teachers, and there are even online churches.  Make way for a mentor in their lives who will spend time with them and help guide them in matters of faith.
  2. Find creative ways to worship that appeal to your teen.  I already touched on this in the previous point, but also look for ways to do this in every day life.  If your kid is into music, note songs they really love, and dig out a theological truth (if there is one).  Find Jesus in current culture and dialog about it.  I know, this is difficult, but doing so teaches kids to think critically about the world in which they live.  Don’t be afraid of the hard issues or questions.  Your teen is already forming his/her own opinion on things; this is your opportunity to weigh in.  The trick here is to listen first…let your teen share their view.  If you disagree, try not to react negatively, but thoughtfully, so they know you are listening and considering their take.  Offer your perspective in a gentle, humble manner, and back it up with God’s Word. 
  3. MOST IMPORTANTLY, model Christ in your own life.  Kids who grow up in a Christian home often tend to see Jesus as a task master, rather than the lover of their souls.  Make sure your kids know that Jesus is GOOD news!  Let your kids see you enjoying the time you spend reading the Bible and praying.  Talk about how Jesus is helping you in various struggles.  Share when you have a victory or answer to prayer. 

Finally, don’t lose heart if you think your teen has lost interest in Jesus.  Pray daily and know that Jesus will never stop seeking them.

SECOND GENERATION  

You know the vocabulary
Learned the words by heart
Hide behind the mask of decency
Pray it won’t get blown apart
You leave feeling empty
Knowing this doesn’t work
Wishing you hadn’t bought the tradition
Left holding a hollow hurt
 
You are the second generation
You are a frozen fire
You are the second generation
It’s your turn to walk the wire
You are the second generation
Finding faith to make your own
You are the second generation
And you’ll never be alone 
 
Who decided this for me
How did this become the plan
Want to be alive, not just living
Breaking out the hidden man
Won’t leave feeling empty
Knowing this will work
Time for one man’s new tradition
Trading in the hollow hurt
 
You are the second generation
You are a frozen fire
You are the second generation
It’s your turn to walk the wire
You are the second generation
Finding faith to make your own
You are the second generation
And you’ll never be alone 
 
All eyes judging me
Have to shut that door
Set me free, set me free
Set me free, set me free
 
I am the second generation
I am a frozen fire
I am the second generation
It’s my turn to walk the wire
I am the second generation
Finding faith to make my own
I am the second generation
And I’ll never be alone

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted in faith, family, parenting, teenagers and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>