Monday, February 15, 2010

The problem with these teens today is ... us!

Good morning my friends. It is a great challenge teaching adolescents these days. I am not referring to Math and English but instead some simple Biblical doctrine. It is not that they are less teachable than previous generations because I find they are filled with talent and abilities beyond their own understanding. They all have such incredible potential that often I am amazed at what could be if they would only put some effort into what they do. The great disadvantage they have is that they are surrounded by such terrible examples of godliness. They see all our hypocrisy and fail to see the point of why they should even try. When we start complaining about the behaviour and attitudes of our teenagers we should first take a good look in the mirror.

One of my greatest challenges is to teach them about authority and the need to submit to it. Paul reminds Titus that to teach this is part of his responsibility to the people he is guiding:

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. (Titus 3:1-2)

All children learn best when they are following a model, the example set by their teachers. They learn from everyone in their small world by what is said and what is done. Every time we complain or tear down the various authorities in our lives they are learning. Every time we slow down when we see the police and then speed up again when they are gone our children are being molded. When they see us lying to avoided paying taxes or talking against our politicians they are learning. When we switch churches because we don't like the pastor or some elder we are teaching them to avoid submitting to authority. All this early training starts being put to the test when they start becoming a little independent and usually it is played out in their own private part of the world, school.

When we try to teach them that they will always be subject to authority all their lives, it is like speaking a foreign language to them. When we teach them to submit themselves to that authority they laugh, because they don't see it modeled around them. Authority for them is a matter of control. As long as the authority is present they will obey but as soon as that authority is out of sight they will do what they want. That's control not obedience. The Doctrine Paul is laying down with Titus is not about control but about obedience,

Our God has no interest in controlling us. If that is what he wanted then he would have created us so that we had no potential for disobedience. Instead he wanted a creation that would freely love him. He created us so that we would be able to choose to love him, choose to obey him. What many of us fail to understand is that obedience is an act of love and respect. Jesus taught his disciples:

 If you love me, you will obey what I command. (John 14:15)

We fail our children when we teach them control out of fear instead of obedience out of love. If we fail to teach them obedience to God out of a place of love and respect then they will also not learn to respect us as parents, or their teachers at school, or the police, or the governments or any other authority.When I say teach I mean model. If the parents, teachers, and elders are failing to set the example then we can't expect our teens to know and understand why this is so important. Instead of complaining about our disobedient and rebellious teenager we should all take a good long look in the mirror.

A first good step is to confess to our teens our own sins in this area of Biblical teaching. Once we have shown them that we have been wrong we can start showing them how to do it right. . Perhaps they will be confused at first but if we remain consistent and we demonstrate how important this is we may begin to see changes in them. In it all remember to pray; God still does miracles.

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