Parents, don’t you love teenagers?? Your teenagers, other people’s teenagers (maybe), you know you love them! Right? I am not a parent, but I have been in youth ministry since I was 18 years old and I have also been a teen. This generation is one of the most unique, most creative yet most distracted generations we have had and my desire to reach them must come in different methods. The gospel however will never be altered, never shaken, and always should be the foundation to every generation. I personally believe that the teenage years are the most pivotal when making a decision to follow Jesus forever.
But, how do you as a parent know if your teenager is actually growing in Christ? I want to give you some ways you can look for this growth with an accumulation of my personal experiences as a teen, from what I have observed as a youth pastor, and parents descriptions to me in what they have also seen in their own teen’s growth.
8 Ways you can know your teenager is Growing in Christ:
- Your Teen will Ask Questions about God’s Word – When I was 15 and Christ got a hold of my life, I never hesitated to ask questions about what God revealed to me in His Word. I would walk into my parents room at 11:00 o’clock at night, wake them up, and ask a question. I would get to the church earliest enough on Wednesday nights just to bask in the wisdom of my youth pastor Steve Spence to grow spiritually equipped in the word. Curiosity of God’s word is a sign of growth. Psalm 119:9 says “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.”
- Your Teen will Desire to be a part of the Church at a Certain Capacity – There’s a reason I say CERTAIN capacity. As a youth pastor, it’s hard to say this because this means not every youth will be involved with the youth group. It’s just reality. However this does not mean the Teen is not growing, serving, or loving their church. The Ten Commandments do not say “Thou Shalt not neglect your youth group worship service and groups!” However the scripture does say “Do not neglect the gathering of the saints” in Hebrews chapter 10 verse 24. An involved teen in the church is a teen that has been influenced in the right direction and is seeking to be an influence. Your teen will make being a part of the church more of a priority than anything else.
- Your Teen will Display a Different Attitude towards their Siblings – While this statement is nowhere near perfect, there will be some level of maturity and love coming from a brother or sister to their siblings. Growing up, my brother Daniel and I practically hated each other. When we both got older, my senior in high school, we developed an incredible friendship. I was even best man in his wedding. I always talked to him about the gospel and wanted to be there for him when he struggled. Your older son or daughter, even sometimes begrudgingly will love their younger siblings by spending time with them, taking them to their favorite activity with the intention of influencing them towards Jesus. Once again, they will still fight, still annoy each other, and still act like they hate each other sometimes, but that is a sign of sibling tough love rather than a lack of maturity in Christ. Even Jesus got annoyed of His disciples! Jesus called Peter Satan! I have been called Satan by my brother multiple times!
- Your Teen will Begin to be more Honest with you (if you make your EAR available) – Sometimes teenagers just want an ear. I believe teens don’t think adults or even their parents understand where they are coming from because as adults, we want to spit wisdom or advice without “really listening.” However, I have observed through conversations with teens, they just want their dad or their mom to be an ear! Sons want fatherly advice and daughters want emotional momma support.
- Your Teen will Feel Uncomfortable about the Sin they See and Hear at school by Peers – I use to come home upset or even vent to my dad or youth pastor about the things I saw and heard at school. My urge to preach when I was 17 was God birthed but also because I wanted to see a generation of students grow up and not waste their lives. I would weep when a teenager died of being ran over by a truck because he was drunk and fell asleep in the woods (true story). It would break my heart to see guys at school treat girls with disrespect and as objects. THOSE kinds of convictions will be evident in your teen. They will choose “not to conform to the patterns of this world but will be transformed by the renewal of their minds” as Romans 12:2 says. Sins of peers will disrupt a teens soul because they know sin is a waste of time and life. No Christian teen wants to see other teens suffer because of sin choices.
- Your Teen will be Convicted about Disobeying You – A teen who is pursuing Jesus and understanding to “Honor their Father and Mother” will show respect and apologize when they have wronged you. I believe that is a way the Holy Spirit intervenes when they have mouth-offed to you for thinking they are right. I have seen it in teens attitudes on Wednesday nights at Youth Group, being disrespectful but then apologizing later because of their defiance. I believe a teen under conviction will show respect and die to their selfish pattern of disobeying you.
- Your Teen might start Caring about God’s will for them more than Your Will for them – I have no idea what it’s like to have a son or daughter and want so bad for them to take the direction I feel they should take. No clue! I can only dream and imagine. You may have the perfect-set-trust-funded-scholarship-will for your teen. However, God uses teens in incredible ways, in ways that you may have not prepared for them. I have observed that when a teen catches fire with a passion to pursue Jesus, they will discover an adventure and the only thing that could be in their way…is you. If your teen is talking about going into ministry, starting a non-profit, starting a bible study at their school very early in the morning, switching colleges because they felt the spirit of the Lord legitimately tell them to go where no one else will to share the gospel…support them! It is a good thing to notice your teen caring about God’s will and not wanting anything in their way to obey it. Give your teens direction, help them prepare, but let them go. Trust me, God is up to something in their lives!
- Your Teen will Challenge YOUR faith – I want to encourage you parent as well as challenge you. Your whole point as a parent is to equip your family and nurture them to follow Jesus. If you are being challenged by your teen in your own faith, your teen may just be growing as a leader! One of the most humbling things I have ever heard my pops say to people, knowing how Godly of a man he is, saying “Derek is the spiritual leader of our family.” Are you challenged by your teen’s walk with Christ that it may just be pushing you further into Christ as well? Can you brag on them to others and humbly admit, that your teenager just might be changing your life?
There are most likely more than 8 ways you can know your teens are growing in Christ! However I pray these 8 will get you started in evaluating your teens life as they seek Jesus! Join them in that journey!