Your child has grown from the cute little baby that you brought home from the hospital to an always hungry young adult. The once little kid in the backseat has now grown up and, instead of asking a bunch of questions about how things work, your teen is questioning your authority. What can you do? You have reached the end of your rope and you need someone to help. Where is the spiritual Superman who can swoop in and rescue your relationship with your teen? Who is going to disciple your teen?
Deuteronomy 6:4–9 (NASB95)
4 “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
In this passage the Israelites were instructed to love God and told how to live in order for the next generation to do the same. They were told to always have an unwavering love for God on their mind. They were told to teach their children to love God with everything in them. They were told to live out their love for God in every part of their life. This verse makes it clear that the role of discipleship in the teen’s life is the responsibility of the parents.
In a recent survey, conducted by FamilyLife, of over 40,000 Christian parents, some alarming trends were discovered.
- Less than 50% of the parents said that they had regular family devotional times.
- 40% of the surveyed parents said that they rarely or never discussed spiritual matters with their teens.
- 25% of the surveyed parents said that they never pray with their teens.
- 25% of the surveyed parents said that they pray with their teens occasionally.
In comparing these statistics with the verses in Deuteronomy 6, we can see some major differences. The problem is clear. Who is teaching teens to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and might? Who is taking the responsibility to teach our teens?
The solution to the problem is in parents stepping up and beginning to intentionally disciple their teens to love the Lord with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might. How can this be accomplished?
- Make your love for God be the driving force of your life. Keep the “love for God” as a constant driving theme in your life. Make sure that you are setting apart quality time to strengthen your love for the Lord. Doing your Bible reading and prayer time at a consistent time allows you to be an example of growing in your relationship with the Lord. Your teen is watching you, and when you set an example as someone who is fully committed to living life based on an unwavering love for God they will notice.
- Teach your teen to love God with all their heart, soul, and might. This is not a one-time event but rather a constant lesson. When good things happen, point your teen back to God and show them how this can be used to strengthen their love for God. When bad things happen, point your teen back to God and show them how this can be used to strengthen their love for God. The verse points out that this is a lesson that happens when you are relaxing in your house, when you are out on errands, and ultimately when you are doing anything. To focus on the love of God in everything that happens helps your teen begin to develop a biblical worldview. The most meaningful moments in discipleship usually do not come from the words of instruction you will give to your teen but by the example you live out in your life.
- Let your house be defined as a house that loves the Lord. The command in this passage was to write it on the doorposts and on the gate. It will become evident to all that this house is focused on loving God. As other teens enter your house they will see that something is different in your house because you are demonstrating what it is like to love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. For example, they may see you speaking with kind words, in a gentle tone, and focusing on providing solutions to a problem or disagreement, instead of yelling, using a harsh tone, leaving, or threatening each other.
Are you teaching your teen the importance of loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind? Who is discipling your teen?