Sometimes I enjoy reflecting on how my life has changed from high school to the present. As I do this semi-infrequently, I’m often encouraged by how I’ve grown. Sometimes as I do this, I feel a twinge of regret. During such times, memories of carelessness, ungodly attitudes, and behavior come rushing back at me.
In this article, I want to come alongside you and give you advice that will hopefully help you as you grow in your teenage years and beyond.
Be Yourself by God’s Grace
As a teenager today, you are faced with an incredible amount of peer pressure at your school. As a Christian, you have an incredible opportunity to stand up and make a difference by God’s grace.
As a Christian, the Lord has taken your heart of stone, and replaced it with a new heart, with new desires, and affections for Himself. The Christian life is a life lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
All around you are people who want you to slip up and use foul language. It may even seem to be “cool” by some, but it’s really not. As a Christian young man or young woman, you must resist this urge. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” The words we use matter, and they can never be taken back, only apologized for. Ultimately we will be held accountable for every idle word we speak.
By God’s grace be who you are now in Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”
Don’t be afraid to be yourself by God’s grace.
Grow in Your Knowledge of God’s Word
I first started reading theological works of all kinds as a sophomore in high school. I encourage you to start reading your Bible and other good theological books now.
One way to do this as you start out is to find out if your local church has a church library and check out books. Before you do this ask your pastor what books you should read; pastors love this question. Also, see if your parents will help you get some books perhaps for your birthday, Christmas, or for getting good grades on your report card.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be a Witness for Christ
In high school, people knew I was a Christian. Non-Christians expected me as a Christian to act in a Christ-like manner. Their ideas of what this looks like will be different from yours, which will give you an opportunity to share what the Bible teaches about a variety of topics. This is where growing in your own knowledge of the Bible and theology will help you immensely.
The most accurate theological answer you can give when you don’t know the answer is to say, “I don’t know”. When you say this to people, please follow it up with, “But if you’ll allow me, I’ll go study the question and get back to you.” This communicates to the person that while you don’t know the answer you care about the person enough to go find the answer to the question they are asking.
Most non-Christians will find this refreshing. Rather than being a know it all which is how many non-Christians view most Christians, you are admitting you don’t know and that you are committed to finding out. Even if the other person isn’t interested at least you were honest with them.
Non-Christians are wondering if you are the real deal. They wonder if you are one of those Christians who say one thing and then live another way. To the degree you take your own walk with God seriously, people will take your comments about your faith seriously. To this end commit to:
- Getting in a small group in your youth group at your local church.
- Spend quality time learning to read, interpret, and apply the Word to your life. Ask your youth pastor for help on this if you don’t know how.
- Make friends with older teenagers in your youth group. They can help you navigate the challenges you are facing now. Also, make friends with other Christians at your school.
You live in a very challenging time where images and videos abound tempting you to look at them on your various devices. In addition to this, members of the opposite sex dress provocatively to provoke you to lust after them.
Sexual purity is serious business. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman. Sex outside of this union of one man and one woman is called adultery. Adultery includes having sex outside of marriage to thinking or looking at any image or member of the opposite sex in a way that causes you to lust after them.
If you are a Christian struggling with sexual sin, I urge you to get help. Talk to your pastor, a mature Christian friend, or an older teenager in your youth group. Get help and accountability. There is hope and healing for you in the gospel.
Find An Older Christian mentor
Please find a Christian older man or woman (depending on who you are!) to help you to grow in your walk with God. This is a process I started as a young man in high school and continue today in my thirties. Doing this will provide someone you can share your struggles and who will help you as you make life-altering decisions that will shape the direction of your life. It’s important to lean in on someone of the same gender so that you can learn the most—Scripture says this is the model (Titus 2).
Over the past sixteen years since I graduated high school I’ve seen our world change dramatically. Your two or three years in middle school and three to four years in high school will go so fast you won’t believe it. Before you know it you’ll be graduated and headed either to college or out into the workforce.
Don’t waste the time you have now in middle school and high school to grow in God’s grace. Don’t waste the opportunity to become the young man or young woman God wants you to become. Instead, use the opportunity He’s given you to shine the light of Christ where you are. Be faithful, grow in humility; know that God will use you.
Dave Jenkins is the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, and the Host of the Equipping You in Grace Podcast. He and his wife, Sarah, are members of Ustick Baptist Church in Boise, Idaho, where they serve in a variety of ministries. He received his MAR and M.Div. through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. You can find Dave on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus, or reading more of his work at Servants of Grace.