Children in Crisis

It seems that adolescence has as much to teach the parent as it does the child. Many parents experience full-on panic attacks as their children enter adolescence, and this reality speaks volumes about the faith of the parent. First, I don’t believe that parents are taught the normal progression of God’s work with man. We are given independence, mess up our world, and choose Jesus to sort out the mess and ourselves. People are too often told that if they follow certain formulas, they can bypass God’s order. God’s order can never be undone. Every single person that comes to Jesus will come in some form of brokenness. Christianity is for those at the bottom rung of the ladder. The servant God, who became a man, a carpenter, started it. The “founders” were largely simple, uneducated men from a variety of walks of life. Given the state of the original founders, why did Christianity become something that is exclusive? Well, fleshly men want to make it exclusive; they can’t stand the fact that it is for the weakest. They always seem to have a “special” formula, which, if followed, will set apart and make disciples more exclusive. Those in the exclusive club don’t believe that we all are equal in Jesus. Parents fall victim to these special formulas because they want to believe that if the formula is followed, they won’t have any problem with their children and can live in comfort. It is the parents’ fault for being deceived. I am asked, “Well, what about all those kids that never have any problems?” My answer is the same, “What kids? All have sinned, have they not?” Also, in counseling I hear the things that the parents never will. There are no “perfect” kids. A child must follow God’s order! Before a child can believe, he must first have been unbelieving. In adolescence pride (unbelief) is active, which causes independent decisions, which results in failures and sin. The consequence of the aforementioned is the personal need for Jesus. Again, it is the order of things. However, what I see happening in the parent is often more vexing that what I am seeing in the child. The child in his unbelief and bad behavior pulls the parents into lack of faith. The dynamic should be the parents’ pulling the child up into their faith in a God Who is big enough to care for all of them. But the opposite is true as soon they are as unbelieving as the child. They can’t believe that God will work, that the order of things is wise, or that the child, like the prodigal son, will return. This unbelief gives rise to a flood of activities and covert messages. The teenager is forced into the youth group, where, it is hoped, since God has dropped the ball and isn’t working, maybe the youth leader can do something. There is a search for a person or place that can “fix” the child. [There can be a need and a place for faith-based intervention, but not that which is replacing the need for faith.] Now at this point, as I am talking to parents, the complaint comes, “Well, are we just to let our teens go do whatever they want, ignore the consequences, and give up?” That statement actually addresses three separate issues. First, stop thinking about what you should do as a parent and start thinking about what you are to do as a child of the most High God. What are you to be doing today? What is God telling you to do? Not just with your kids, but your family, your mate, your job, and most importantly, what are you doing with Him? This is the advice that Samson’s parents got when they questioned the angel as to what they were to do for the boy. Live separated to Him, obey Him, and you will be the believer that you need to be. Everything else will flow from that. Second, I am not saying that you do nothing, but is your faith in the doing or in your God? I liked having family devotions at night because I believed God wanted me to have them. However, I never for a minute believed that the devotions would make my children Christian; that is God’s job. Yes, we do have standards, we do enforce them, we do what is good for the child, and we do fight for our stands. But unless God puts His fire in a person, none of the above will change him. We do protect our children, for one day we will hand their lives over to them, and we want to give something of value. Third, it reveals that the parent really only sees two options: Either the child is formed into the image of God by the parent or an image of the world by the child’s own choices. What about Jesus? What about the Holy Spirit? What about the promises of God? What about God? Now, I end where I began, with parents hitting the panic button because they have no God! Your parents didn’t put the fire of God in you; I can’t imagine that you will put it in your child. However, you can trust God to do it as He follows His order. It is very easy to tell the difference between the child that has been touched by his parents’ teaching and the one that has had a personal touch of God. Which do you want?


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