How can parents disciple their teenagers to passionately love Jesus and live His mission?
The following are core principles (not “how to” gimmicks) for discipling our teenagers to passionately love Jesus and stand apart from the world by living His mission:
1. Possess the passion for Jesus that you desire your teenager to possess. Discipling our children must flow from who we are. We cannot pass on to our children what we do not possess. Our children will mirror us – our attitudes, actions, words, and spiritual welbeing. The apple never falls far from the tree. When our relationship with Jesus is nominal, our children’s relationship with Jesus tends to be nominal. When our relationship with Jesus is exciting, vibrant, and new, our children’s relationship with Jesus is likely to be the same. We set the spiritual tone of our children’s lives. Our relationship with God must be, what we want our children to become.
2. Share with your teenager what God is teaching you. Our children need to hear how God is actively working in our lives and changing us to be more like Him. This awakens our children’s spirit to the workings of God in their own lives. If we have nothing to share with our teenagers, then we are not “dwelling with God” and spiritual transformation will usually fail to occur in our children. Our teenagers need to see and hear how God is working to shape us more into His image. Impart to your children what God has imparted to you.
3. Pray with and over your teenager regularly. This means praying out loud and more than at dinner time or when they go to bed. When your teenager is struggling through relational drama, emotional pain, temptation, physical issues, etc., pray with them, at the moment, they share their life with you. When you pray, pray passionately, with the authority and power that has been given you through Jesus’ life and resurrection. Your example will teach your teenager to access the authority and power of God through prayer.
4. Ask spiritual questions regularly. Be slow to give answers; be quick to ask questions. Your questions have the power to launch spiritual conversations that form a strong spiritual foundation for the remainder of their lives. Questions will help your teenager wrestle with the truth of God and open opportunities for God to speak His truth into their lives as they formulate their belief system. Spiritual questions reinforce the fact that our relating with God and relating with others about God matters. Ask spiritual question and talk about God regularly.
5. Continue disciplining your teenager. God disciplines those He loves. I hope He is disciplining you. Disciplining our teenagers reveals love and directs them to the heart of God. Though your teenager will never tell you this, he or she longs for parameters that help to define God’s boundaries for their life. Discipline enforces those parameters and imparts spiritual sensitivity to the holiness of God. Continue to discipline your teenager with the same love that God disciplines you.
6. Set an example of Christ-likeness. Set an example in your attitude, conversations, and actions of what it means to passionately love Jesus and live His mission. Be with Jesus daily. Be filled with the presence and joy of God. Be incarnational. Mimic Jesus’ life, love, and authority. Talk about Jesus at church, in the market place, in your neighborhood, and in your home. Invite Jesus to be part of all you do. Live Jesus’ mission – make disciples, who make disciples.
7. What principle is missing? Comment below what principles you have discovered in parenting that are helping your teenager grow in Christ-likeness. We need to hear what you have to offer.
When we embrace these and other principles, in partnership with the grace and power of God, our teenagers will more likely be transformed into men and women who passionately love God and live the mission of Jesus.
To read more on the role of parents in the spiritual formation of teenagers click here.