This post is part of a series to answer questions that I often receive from pastors, youth pastors, and youth workers when I speak at Christian camps. I am not able to go into all the detail that is perhaps needed but will primarily attempt to give an overview and a starting point. As in dealing with any issue that involves the lives of those around us, it is important that we research topics to increase our understanding and that we remember what I call “the time factor”. Investing in lives means a huge investment of our time. Applying truth and seeing genuine change take place requires time as well. So here is today’s question:
How would you address worldliness in an apathetic teenager?
This is a great questions and not only addresses issues in many teenager’s lives, but also in many of their parent’s lives too. Many in the church are apathetic and many are worldly and quite often, I would think the two are almost the same! If a person is worldly they will be apathetic and vice versa. How do you address it?
- By teaching the Bible.
Remember Paul’s statement to Timothy? “Thou has fully known my doctrine [and] manner of life” (2 Tim. 3:10). Often a teen is apathetic and worldly because she doesn’t know any better. That is why we teach doctrine. We must continually teach clear and specific truths from the Word of God. Be careful here, because sometimes we will teach our position and our preference rather than the truths clearly taught in the Bible. Some things, for instance, are undeniably clear. The warnings regarding alcohol are that way. The truths about women adorning themselves in modest apparel are too. Some matters are not as clear but principles abound that can help us make decisions regarding how we should live. The application may vary here and there, but the truth must be understood before an application can be made. So, we must continually teach truth. Doing so opens the door for the Spirit to do His work in the heart and in the life.
- By allowing teens to “see into” our lives.
Paul not only taught his doctrine to Timothy, he also allowed him to see his “manner of life.” The phrase refers to his way of living! This is huge to a teen. If they hear the truth, but can’t see that it is worth living based on the example of your life, they will seldom, if ever, embrace that truth. Inviting teens into your life is always a challenge. It is time consuming and demanding. It requires intentionality. However, some of the greatest influence we can have in a teens life will only be had by an investment of time. They need to see our marriages in action. They need to see our actions and reactions to our own kids. They need to see the steps we take to keep our lives pure. They need to see how we handle things on the good days and on the bad ones. To influence a teen to embrace our Christianity will take both the teaching and the demonstration of it in our daily lives. Take a teen with you when you have to visit the hospital. Have a teen help with a project around your house and have a meal or two with them. Invest in some coffee at a local coffee shop and just sit and talk. If your life itself is a life of genuine Christianity, you will have a great influence simply by allowing them to see it in action.
- By remembering to love them unconditionally.
Make sure that your teens know, no matter what, you love them. Say it to them in a text or in a letter or face to face. Show it to them. Cheer them at a game, buy them a special gift, and eat with them. Visit their school and have lunch with them. It may be an old and trite statement, but teens really don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
So teach the Bible, allow them to see our lives in action, and love them unconditionally. And, I almost forgot, never give up on them. A teen who may be moody and worldly and apathetic, may surprise you in the years to come and be one of the finest Christians in the church!
Thanks for reading,
Your sincere friend,