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Featured Topic: Teenagers

Helping Teens through Turbulent Times

“They [adolescents] now seem to love luxury, they have bad manners and contempt for authority, they show disrespect for adults and spend their time hanging around places gossiping with one another. They are ready to contradict their parents, monopolize the conversation and company, eat gluttonously and tyrannize their teachers….”
—Socrates about 400 B.C.

The quote from Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher and teacher, sounds like it could have been pulled from today’s newspapers. It appears teens have always experienced turbulent times, and they have been troublesome to those around them. Socrates seems to have little sympathy for the enormous changes young men and women experience during adolescence, he is focused on behaviors rather than getting below the surface. Who knows . . . as a teacher perhaps he was a victim of their perceived tyranny, referenced at the end of the quote.

Fast forward multiple centuries and teens today are disrespecting parents, showing contempt for authority, and behaving rudely, just like Socrates described, but Dr. Joe White sees things a little differently. Considered an expert on teenagers, he knows outer misbehavior will not be altered without inner transformation. He is sensitive to the extreme pressures, the pushes and pulls from all directions that can eventually topple teens. And he can relate to the rampant rejection often experienced during adolescence, pain for him that God has shown to be powerfully purposeful. Having ministered to thousands of teenagers for more than five decades, Joe assesses his turbulent teenage years: “Being the little loser taught me to care. To this day I have a soft spot for hurting kids. I’m always ready for a letter or phone call or conversation with a teenager . . . who is like I was.”

All people have three inner needs: Love, Significance and Security

The search for Love:

  • Teenagers with a misplaced dependence say:
    “I can’t live without my friends / the opposite sex and must be told I’m loved.” (Jeremiah 31:3).
  • Teenagers with their dependence on God say:
    “I need a personal relationship with Jesus, I’m accepted by God and that I’m loved by God just as I am, no matter what.” (John 15:12)

The search for Significance:

  • Teenagers with a misplaced dependence say:
    “I have to date someone good looking, excel in sports, and have my own car.” (Proverbs 14:8).
  • Teenagers with their dependence on God say:
    I need to know I have God-given worth, realize that I was designed by God and that He has a purpose for my life, and that God will give me increased responsibilities as I am faithful in small things. (Psalm 57:2)

The search for Security:

  • Teenagers with a misplaced dependence say:
    “I have to be really popular, fit into the group, I have to belong to the right social club and have my own (things).” (Romans 12:2).
  • Teenagers with their dependence on God say:
    “I need to realize I’m a child of God and I belong to the family of God. I need to be disciplined and not yield to the pull of the world, view God’s truths as benevolent boundaries. I need to know the Lord will never leave me nor forsake me.” (Proverbs 14:26)

From God’s Word

• For the teenager

“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

• For the parent

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

More verses: Ephesians 3:16-19, Proverbs 12:15, Jeremiah 29:11, Proverbs 22:6