The sad reality for many Christian teenagers is that they are in hiding. Trying to be one person at school, another at home, another at church, another online—it’s overwhelming. Living two different lives causes constant uneasiness. Trying to be something you are not, never works. Often times they feel alone in the battle.
Teenagers live in a world of constant pressures of trying to fit in. Sometimes, they just don’t fit in. That’s okay, they are in good company and need to be reminded of that. David was a shepherd boy who was the last to be chosen, laughed at by his brothers, overlooked by his dad, yet God made him a giant-slayer. Moses was a wandering fugitive before he discovered God’s plan. Then God developed him into an outstanding leader. Abraham was 100 years old when God gave him a son! Imagine showing up at high school with your 115 year old daddy! Sometimes, teens don’t fit in, they stand out. For us to help teenagers feel awesome, we have to remind them they are not of this world. God designed all of us to be with Him in heaven forever, because of this we will not fit in this world, but rather stand out.
This is where you come in. You have the opportunity everyday to make your students feel awesome.
1. Encourage “Being” More than “Doing”
Sometimes teenagers get little or no encouragement from friends, family or anyone else. If they do get encouraged it’s because of something they have done. They aced a test. They got up off their lazy butt and took the trash out without being asked (praise God for that). They scored a touchdown. These are great reasons to praise your teen and encourage them to do their best at everything. Nothing wrong with that, but they need to be encouraged, not just for “doing” but also for “being” who they are and who they are becoming.
You can encourage them with “Man you are a dedicated young man.” Or “You have exceptional character.” “God has given you a wonderful sense of humor.” “Thank you for just being you.” “I love your honesty.”
Our doing flows out of our being. Our actions are consistent with who we are. Help develop great character in our young men and women by encouraging and empowering them to be who God designed them to be and it will unlock their awesome-factor!
2. Carve Out Time to Be with Your Teen
Schedule time. Not to discipline, not to teach, not to “talk” to them—just time to be with them. It might be awkward. You might say, “How are you?” And they respond with the infamous, “fine.” But don’t worry. Press on. Find out what they are interested in. Here’s the reality, if you carve out time consistently to listen and be with your teenager, you will reap the benefits at the right time. You have to build their trust daily, by investing your time in them. It will pay off.
3. Words have the Power to Change Lives
Take 10 days to write something telling your teenager how awesome he or she is. Write it on note cards, sticky notes, cereal boxes, or on their forehead. It doesn’t matter where, it matters what. Speak truth, love and joy into their lives. Your words help shape them. Your words can bring joy and hope for the day. Tell them how amazing, how incredible and how awesome they are and that you love them no matter what. Remember was King Solomon said, “The tongue has the power of life and death . . .” Proverbs 18:21.
4. Stories Shape Us
I love that Jesus’ primary way of teaching was through stories. “The Kingdom of God is like . . .” He told stories to help shape our lives. Your stories about your life, about your family, about work, and about your teen can help teach, and train your teen. These stories can be, “Do you remember the time when you were about 7 years old and. . .” Or they can be more like, “When I was a teenager I used to love to . . .” or even “An amazing teenager is like . . . you are that teenager! I see incredible potential in you.”
5. Create A Magical Moment
You knew magic was going to get in here somehow. Yes, I do think about magic/illusions a lot. One of the things I do in my show is try to think about how to make someone’s day. How can I create a moment that is so magical that they will never forget that moment? What if you did that for your teenager? What if you took time to create a magical moment? Think in terms of Instagram. What moment would be Instagramable? Maybe you go cliff jumping together? Maybe it’s mom vs. teenager at Call of Duty!? Maybe it’s dad creating a tea party with his daughter? Maybe mom/daughter rents a truck drives somewhere that overlooks the city, and they sit on the tailgate sipping their favorite drinks? Maybe it’s throwing blankets and pillows into the back of a pickup and stargazing? What magical moment could you create that your teen would remember forever?
6. Stack the Cards with Awesomeness
Get a deck of cards and write powerful words about your teenager on each card. “You are funny.” “You are so smart.” “You inspire me.” “You bring me joy.” “I am so thankful for you.” “10 reasons why I like you, 1…” Then you play your favorite games with that deck of cards or you can look up some fun family games with cards. Some of my favorites are Spoons, I Doubt It, Spades, Idiot, Rummy, and Cribbage.
7. God’s Word Always Has Something Awesome For Teenagers
Look for verses that you can give to your teen to inspire, encourage and empower them to be the awesome teenagers that God designed them to be. You could hide these in books, backpacks, toilets and shoes (to name a few). The point is, God’s word is powerful, fun and life-changing. Ask God to give you the right verses to give to your teen, to remind them that they are “God’s masterpiece.”
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Photo credit: Evil Erin / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)